updated 8/26/2011 3:02:14 PM ET 2011-08-26T19:02:14

A Roman Catholic high school dropped plans for a Ramadan dinner after hearing complaints about its partnership with a Muslim advocacy group that federal officials have linked to a terror financing case.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr received "emotionally charged" emails — mostly from outside the area — and asked the girls school to cancel plans to host the Friday night dinner, Kirsten MacDougal, president of Mother of Mercy school, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. The dinner to build goodwill with Muslims will be held instead at a church parish center.

There were no threats among the "heated" complaints over the school's plans to co-host the meal with the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, but the archbishop didn't want to take chances with children's safety, Dan Andriacco, a spokesman for the Cincinnati archdiocese, told The Associated Press on Friday.

"There was an elevated emotional temperature on the part of some people that caused the archbishop concern," Andriacco said.

Roula Allouch, board president of the local CAIR chapter, said she considered canceling the event after she learned of the school's decision, but was grateful that a local group of lay Catholics would rent the parish center to CAIR for the meal.

"It's unfortunate for an event with the purpose of bringing together people of faith" was almost canceled, Allouch told the newspaper.

Andriacco said he had not seen the complaints, but believes they mostly centered on concerns over the national council.

Schnurr was not available for comment.

The school planned to co-host the dinner after groups of Mercy students and students linked with the council worked together on community service, and several families were planning to attend, MacDougal told the AP.

"We share the concern over safety, but it is sad that this has distracted from our positive intent on both sides," she said.

MacDougal didn't know how many complaints the archdiocese received, but said they were mostly emails from people who follow the news about CAIR's national office.

CAIR, based in Washington D.C., is a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. It has been on the radar of federal agencies investigating terrorism for years, and the FBI no longer works directly with the group. Local agents do talk to CAIR officials and have investigated claims of civil rights violations against Muslims, said Mike Brooks, the FBI spokesman in Cincinnati.

"They are not considered to be a terrorist organization or anything like that," Brooks said.

MacDougal said her school and the archdiocese still support interfaith dialogue, but the dinner's proximity to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 also was a factor.

Tom Tegenkamp — whose daughter wanted to attend the event — understands the concerns, but said it was a "shame this had to be canceled over security concerns."

Another Mercy parent, Kelly Jennings, told the Enquirer that she was glad it was canceled.

"There were a lot of parents who were up in arms about it," she said.

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islam, a time when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during the daylight hours but break their fast with a meal at night that is sometimes shared with non-Muslims.

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Photos: Free speech or hate speech?

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  1. Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum think tank in Philadelphia spoke at Everett Community College in Everett, Wash. as part of an "Islam in America" series. Ibrahim, author of “The Al Qaeda Reader,” argues that true adherents of Islam are compelled to wage jihad and present a threat to the United States. Muslim civil-rights groups tried to persuade the college to cancel the event, arguing that Ibrahim is fanning anti-Muslim hatred. "I have nothing against Muslims," Ibrahim says, "I have a lot of Muslim friends, believe it or not." (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. "America is, if we're not careful, very close to 1938 Germany," says Jeff Siddiqui, a local realtor who is a practicing Muslim and Pakistani American. He listened to Ibrahim's talk and said it was full of inaccuracies that contribute to misunderstanding of Muslims. "I’m concerned and fearful for the environment my children and their children are going to grow up, surrounded with generations of people who have been infused with false information about Islam." (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. "We started getting push back from people who didn't want Mr. Ibrahim to come talk," says Craig Lewis, Dean of Communications and Social Sciences at Everett Community College, who invited Ibrahim to the college's series of lectures.“Finally we decided that if we were to going to un-invite one then we were going to have to un-invite everybody—or vice versa... We decided... to keep the dialogue open.” (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. "I came to listen as an opposing view," says a woman who calls herself Sister Mohammed. Mohammed founded the Islamic Resources by Mail, a non-profit that provides Muslims with information on mosques and schools, Islamic materials, halal foods and other needs. "My main concern is whether this person is trying to deprogram Muslims." (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. "Where I come from in Texas I didn't see too many Muslims, so I've always been curious about the religion." says Kevin Marshall, Navy veteran and student of secondary education at Everett Community College. After hearing Ibrahim's talk, Marshall said: "I have more questions now than when I first sat down." (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Jared Marr, 19, a history buff came to see Ibrahim speak as part of a World Civilizations class. "It was really interesting," he said after the talk. He didn't buy into the central tenet of the talk. "There are plenty of moderate Muslims, but you do have Muslims on the fringes," he said. (Jim Seida / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
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