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TAMPA, Florida (AP) - The two Florida chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations are merging into a single operation.

CAIR officials in Florida said Wednesday they are merging their Tampa and South Florida operations into a single organization. The newly-named CAIR Florida also plans to open satellite offices in other cities in Florida.

The group is an advocacy and civil rights champion for Muslims in Florida. It has 11 staff members, including five attorneys.

Nezar Hamze, who ran the South Florida operation, will be the statewide regional operations director.

Hassan Shibly, who ran the Tampa office, will be CAIR Florida's statewide chief executive.

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