Tea Party Protest Against Temecula Mosque Points to Rising Tensions Between Islam and Right Wing Groups
Summary: The sinking ship known as the Southwest Riverside County Tea Party Citizens in Action Group spurs ignorance and causes further damage to Tea Party and GOP image. July 30th plans to protest the existing Temecula mosque shows SWRC Tea Party is motivated by hatred of Islam. By bringing dogs to mosque grounds, singing in protest of the belief that Muslim women are forbidden to sing, and with the local pastor claiming the mosque will increase the presence of Muslim extremists, the SWRC Tea Party proves to be out of touch with reality.
Heightened tension between Islam and self-proclaimed American Patriots are on the rise. With the Ground Zero mosque protests inciting nation-wide Islamophobia paired with accusations of Tea Party racism, it’s no wonder that one of the biggest battle grounds that brings these two heavyweight issues face to face is in our own backyard – Temecula, California.
The city of Temecula has a Muslim demographic. The Muslim demographic have long since had a place of worship. However, they needed time to raise funds to convert a basic warehouse like structure into a proper mosque.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean minarets, it does mean having a center that allows Muslims to have a building with a layout that has functionality – just like any center, religious or not, would need in order to be an effective use of space.
Muslims from the Temecula mosque took the time and effort to raise the money and they have a right to convert their makeshift warehouse mosque into something that makes sense and is in keeping with local ordinances. As far as I know, there are no zoning issues or other complications. There is no local history of association with fringe radical groups or suspicious individuals.
STEREOTYPES + MISCONCEPTIONS FRAME THE SWRC TEA PARTY “ARGUMENT”
Local residents are voicing their disagreement over the plans, even going so far as being “upset about the construction plan because the mosque and the community center will turn the town into ‘a haven’ for Islamic extremists.” This comment, as reported by the L.A. Times was made by a pastor of a neighboring Baptist Church.
The presence of a mosque being linked to a rise in Islamic extremists makes it pretty clear the pastor believes Muslims automatically equal extremists.
When hit with sheer stupidity, there’s sometimes very little you can say more than a stunned “wow.” But hold on to that stupefied reaction because there’s more.
According to Valley News, the protestors also plan on singing for an hour beginning at 12:30 pm because according to them, “Muslim women are forbidden to sing.”
Let’s now hear that collective “Wow.”
If you’re going to protest something, if you’re going to create a public spectacle and put your Christian-Conservative-Republican-Tea Party-Patriots identity on display, then please have enough common sense to know what you’re talking about. Nowhere in Islam are women forbidden to sing. Nowhere in Islam is singing forbidden. If anything, the call to prayer itself can be quite musical.
And when it comes to mosques and a rise in extremists, you have the right to that comment if you’ve done your homework and shown a history of that specific mosque having links with known radicals, or if the mosque is funded by radical groups. As far as I know, that’s not the case in Temecula.
This Tea Party, just like many other Islamophobes, are confusing Wahhabism (a Saudi-originated, fringe cultural manifestations turned faux religion) with core Islamic beliefs.
That’s like taking the cult teachings of a so-called Christian that just happened to gained popularity giving the right climate to breed in, with the teachings of Christ himself. The two aren’t equivocal. Cult teachings are not part of the core faith.
Yes there are Wahhabis and extreme radical Muslims that take contort Islam. That is an issue, but that’s not the issue here – nor can it stamped as a characteristic of Islam. In fact, the Quran itself frowns upon excesses in religion by making unlawful something that has been made lawful.
Singing is no exception. If singing is forbidden for Muslim women, then why does the Arab world covet some of the most widely regarded female singers, like Haifa Wehbe and Nancy Ajram?
Singing is also often the cornerstone of some Muslim classrooms, just like it is a staple in other non-Muslim classrooms. I know one Muslim teacher in Southern California who has long worked for Islamic schools and who plans entire curriculums around songs. The day starts with songs and classical music is often playing softly in the background while children work on assignments.
So where exactly in Islam does it say that singing is forbidden for women? It’s pretty clear that people haven taken some unresearched email or some circulating video for face value.
It’s mind blowing the level of sheer ignorance these people have. Yet they stride and protest with such confidence, with absolutely no clue about anything beyond their own collective cesspool. With synapses as frail and broken down as old cobwebs, and with neurons firing electrical charges with the confusion of geriatric driver in a three wheel rickshaw, it’s no wonder that the group is completely out of touch with reality.
THE REALITY CHECK
Unfortunately, inflamed self-proclaimed American patriots are forgetting that America ensures the right to worship freely, as long as those practices don’t infringe on the rights of others.
Quite frankly making fools of themselves, a common trait among extreme right wingers, they’re quick to form a collective but slow to think anything through. If there was any real intellect behind all this activity, they’d realize that decision ultimately rests with the city and that the city has no jurisdiction to rule over political or religious issues; they’re limited to strictly reviewing land use issues.
So who’s the mastermind behind the SWRC Citizen Action Group protests against Temecula’s Muslim community? That would be none other than Diana Serafin, who is also part of the Meetup groups for Clayton Thibodeau for Congress 2010 and The Riverside Ron Paul 2008 Meetup Group.
Courtesy of Jeffrey Imm, founder of Responsible for Equality and Liberty (R.E.A.L),the Southwest Riverside County (SWRC) Tea Party Citizens in Action group has been <;/span>repeatedly promoted on the national Tea Party Patriots website. Diana Serafin has also been promoting the “Southwest Riverside County Tea Party (CA)” on ResistNet.com.
Furthermore, while the Tea Party doesn’t have any centralized leadership, the event has made it to the national Tea Party website. Allowing the event to be posted is tacit consent for the planned protest. Where’s the accountability, the quick motion to denounce the protest – or does it take national news calling the Tea Party a bunch of racists to get a response?
And if you claim that you can’t comment or take action because you’re not familiar with this group, then GET familiar. Make the call. Diana Serafin can be reached at 951-677-7884. Get in touch with the National Tea Party website and bring their attention to the event posting.
Saying that it doesn’t concern you, that you’re not familiar, is NOT a valid excuse. If I can spend a great deal of my time researching and writing countless gratis articles that demand Muslim accountability on a number of issues, then you can spend 10 minutes on a phone call to get familiar.
The SWRC Tea Party IS affiliating itself with the Tea Party Movement. The protesters are primarily Christian and Republican. What they do reflects on you if you identify with any one of these groups. So, tell me again…how does it not affect you?
SWRC Proves Zombie Culture Isn’t Something Just Associated With Geeks
In lockstep with other ignorant outbursts void of thought, SWRC Tea party is clearly taking a cue from recent protests in Tennessee against a mosque where dogs were also brought to the scene. What do dogs have to do with it? According to Muslims, Islam finds dogs to be unclean – a statement that I completely disagree with. If Islam is based on the teachings of the Quran, then we should look to the Quran on the issue of dogs, which doesn’t saying anything of the sort. Rather, Hadiths (second hand sources on what the Prophet Muhammad said) tell stories of the prophet noting that dogs were unclean.
There are many Muslims who have dogs as pets. However, dogs are not allowed near prayer areas, which are meant to be kept clean – hence the absolution process prior to prayer and the request to remove shoes (a common custom in the East, even outside of Islam). So it comes as no surprise that dogs on mosque grounds would be seen as highly offensive. Even so, many mosques are breaking with the taboo when it comes to guide dogs for disabled Muslims.
The SWRC Tea Party’s plan to include dogs is a purely provocative move geared toward incitement. It’s rude, aggressive, and highly offensive. It doesn’t serve the protest’s aims, nor does it have anything to do with overall argument. If Muslims are to be offended, then is the one moment where they’d be completely justified. If carried out as planned, the Temecula mosque protest will be a hate crime.
The SWRC Tea Party needs to take a cue from recent history, where a Mormon church also raised protest, with local Christian conservatives complaining that their quality of life would be disturbed by Mormon weekend activities. Despite complaints, primarily stemming from two local churches, the Mormon church was granted permission to build.
What strikes me as ridiculous is the blatant religious discrimination that’s painted off as concerns for land use. When you’re primarily a specific demographic (Christian conservative), when your own pastors are spouting the most ignorant bigot-ridden statements, and when you bring Bibles to a protest, you’re clearly making it a religious issue.
And what’s as sad as crazed Wahhabi–influenced radicals acting in the name of Islam, is the fact that the these groups discredit themselves and the ideals of their associations.
Referencing the coined term, “What Would Jesus Do,” these Christians are far removed from their Christian ideals in which true followers of Christ would never act with the hatred that’s demonstrated here.
And as self-proclaimed American patriots, they shame patriotism by confusing emotional outburst based on ignorance and superiority complexes with the integrity and intelligence that marked the greatness of true American patriots. They prove that zombie culture goes beyond just niche movie market for geeks, but is a very real syndrome of a growing number of people who believe that action for the sake of action is enough – a collective quick to circulate hype emails, who infuse absolutely no critical or original thought, and who entertain no opposing argument. And just like a zombie horde, they show up as an incoherent cacophonous mass who offer no positive contribution to a great American landscape. Rather, they strengthen international stereotypes about Americans being completely tunnel visioned with no clue about anything outside themselves.
WHAT MOSQUE PROTESTS SAY ABOUT AMERICA’S FUTURE
Temecula isn’t an isolated incident. Across the country, there have been an increasing number of protests against local mosques. The coast-to-coast Anti-Islam sentiment stems from the plans for a mosque on Ground Zero.
While the mosque on Ground Zero is a failed idea in which the founders need to quickly realize the lack of sensitivity it shows and the overall implication it has for Muslims in America, the move is clearly connected to local backlashes spreading across the country, from Tennessee to Temecula.
This is a real problem for everyone – for Muslims, for the Tea Party, for Republicans and Conservatives, Christians, and for an administration that has its head stuck so deep into the ground that it thinks just hiring a bunch of Muslims and making a couple of speeches is going to solve the problem.
America is headed on a collision course and these outbursts are symptoms of a very serious overall problem. Unless the right measures are taken, unless accountability goes beyond just the handful of people speaking out against hypocrisy on either side, we’re headed for a serious disaster that will redefine the American landscape.
I have very little hope that any of the non-Muslim affected groups will speak out on this. There is a paralyzing reluctance to criticize those within your own group, even though I strongly believe that loyalty to an ideology does NOT extend to loyalty to an individual who has failed it. We have GOT to start separating failed individuals and failed movements from the ideals themselves. If you do believe in the ideal, then surely you could not stand by as someone pirate’s it to suit their own agenda.
Be the thing you claim to be. Start with a call to SWRC Tea Party organizer Diana Serafin, who can be reached at 951-677-7884, and then take a moment to repost this article to your Facebook account.
Shireen Qudosi is an American, a Sufi Muslim, and a Conservative. She can be reached at email@example.com
>> Menifee, Hemet, and Murrieta Tea Parties submitted a press release denouncing Diana Serafin, any affiliation with SWRC, and condemned the use of dogs in protest.
Men at Temecula Mosque | Photo by Irfan Khan for L.A. Times
Islamic Center of America Vandalism | Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times