VENICE, FL - Some say what was supposed to be a solemn tribute to the victims of nine eleven turned into a political rally of sorts in Venice.
A speaker invited to the event by organizers went on what he himself calls an anti ideological Islamic speech about those responsible for the attacks. Now some are questioning if it was the right time and place.
For roughly 20 minutes Tom Trento from an organization called The Untied West spoke about his opinions on Islam. Most were not favorable. "Islam is primarily a governmental political system with a religious veneer"
"It took us by surprise. I had no idea who the man was." Venice Mayor John Holic was also a speaker Wednesday. He's one who believes the speech was uncalled for on the anniversary. "It was a very inappropriate thing to do at a memorial service. Especially to spring it on people. The tone of the person. What he said. How he said it. In front of students."
"Some people were obviously taken aback." Gene Sweeney headed up the effort to bring the 9/11 memorial to Venice and also put the ceremony together. He says he agrees with everything said and that it was an appropriate time and place. "When are you going to do it? On Christmas day? On Thanksgiving? We mention it on Veterans Day. Do we do it on the 4th of July? Why not do it on 9/11?"
According to reports the Southern Poverty Law Center says The United West is classified as a anti-Muslim hate group based in Lake Mary. In his speech Trento said the United States Military lists them as a "hate organization." He goes on to say they only "Hate those who hate the flag and want to destroy the constitution."
Trento finalized his speech with providing free copies of a DVD called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West." Trento also ofering to sell some books which he says speak to the threats against America.
Holic was also uncomfortable with that. "Then have the audacity to hold up a book and say I'm selling this book. It's here if you want it. That's not what a memorial service is all about."
"If something came as a surprise as selling a book then I would be the first to say I was surprised in that regard," says Sweeney. He says it's a shame the entire two hour ceremony which included those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and in the fight for freedom afterwards is being overshadowed.
Holic says people just should have known before being apart of it. "I am all for freedom of speech if it were booked that way and we were told this was going to be an anti-Islam rally. Then I would have the choice not to come."
Trento told us over the phone Thursday that his speech was not anti-islamic but "anti ideology of Islam."
You can see the whole speech and the rest of the service at www. theunitedwest.org