Hate Comes to Orange County

| March 4, 2011 | 3 Comments

Anti-Muslim Protest in Yorba Linda Signals Growing Close-to-Home Hatred of Muslims

Credit: OC Register
ICNA
Relief hosted a February 13, 2011 charity fundraising dinner in Yorba Linda, CA. ICNA (The Islamic Circle of North America) aimed to help raise money for women’s shelters and help relieve homelessness and hunger in the United States.

The event was disrupted by protestors flanked by towering American flags, who verbally assaulted attendees; families, women, and children were subjected to aggressive and ignorant chants as they entered the building.

The protests was sponsored by “We Surround them OC 912” (a local Tea Party group), Rabbi David Eliezrie of the North County Chabad Center, and North Orange County Conservative Coalition.

Guest speakers included local elected officials such as Congressman Ed Royce, who had this to share:

“A big part of the problem that we face today is that our children have been taught in schools that every idea is right, that no one should criticize others’ position, no matter how odious. And what do we call that? They call it multiculturalism. And it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make the critical judgment we need to make to prosper as a society.”

What’s surprising about Ed Royce is that he chairs the international terrorism subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While I would otherwise agree with some of his intelligence analysis, such as one featured in Red County in September 2010, I find he discredits himself with the affiliations he’s makes at this protest. What’s more, Royce gets it wrong when he condemns multiculturalism. The problem isn’t multiculturalism; the problem is political correctness.

icna_2Villa Park Councilwoman, Republican Deborah Pauly put on a more horrid display than Royce by adding…

“Let me tell you what’s going on over there right now, make no bones about it, that is pure unadulterated evil.” Her speech interrupted by shouts of approval and applause from the crowd, she continued, “I don’t even care if you think I’m crazy anymore. I have a beautiful daughter. I have a wonderful nineteen-year-old son who is a United States Marine. As a matter of fact, I know quite a few Marines who’ll be happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.

And finally, Republican Congressman Gary Miller had this to say…

“That’s the only reason I’m here today. To give you a flag and to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of what you’re doing. I’m proud of this country and what we believe in. And let’s not let people who disagree with it, destroy it.”

Protester comments weren’t any better, and included shouts of “Go Back Home” and “Terrorists” among simple-minded statements such as “Muhammad was a terrorist. Muhammad was a pervert. Muhammad was a fraud. Muhammad was a false prophet.”

While Muslims will definitely be furious over such direct attacks on the prophet, this Muslim doesn’t see a problem with critical analysis of Muhammad. However, what was offered at the protest wasn’t critical analysis or questionable commentary; in my opinion, it was arguably vile and provocative hate speech said out of spite and for the sake of getting a reaction from the attendees.

Other protestor also proved they didn’t have two brain cells to rub between them, with shouts hurled across the parking lot, including “Stupid Terrorist. Go home. Go home. Go home. No sharia. Do you beat up your wife too? Are you a molester?”

Event attendee Adel Syed commented to ABC 7 News, “I’m being told to go back home. I’m actually from Fullerton [CA], so I don’t know where back home is for me.”

The hateful words continued with, “you beat your children and rape your women. Why don’t you go home and beat up your wife like you do every night. You probably have sex with a nine year old and then marry her,” while protestor Karen Lugo told the OC Register, “This is not about hate. We are not hate mongers.”

“It’s not right for terrorism to come to Yorba Linda. I always stress the need to be peaceful and positive,” added protest organizer Steven Amundson.

Yet the now-tired association between Muslim and terrorist once becomes a central issue. At the very least, Steven should have done a better job of rallying his protestors and making sure they were informed and behaved within reason. Rather, we have belligerent cries of “Take the Sharia. Go home. Eat sand. You terrorist lovers,” and “We’re patriotic Americans and we love our constitution and it’s going to stay that way. One nation under God, not Allah. Get out of here. Never forget 9-11”.

Again, there is no difference between God and Allah. They are two different names for the same diety of monotheistic faiths.

As an American, a patriot, and a conservative, I’m embarrassed for America because I know we’re capable of being better than this. I’m embarrassed for Christians because I know the hate these “Christians” dished out is hardly in keeping with Christianity and the teachings of Christ. And I’m embarrassed for Republican leadership because I’m seeing more and more anti-Islamic sentiment within a party I know possesses honorable values at its core; they also are capable of better and I for one am getting tired of waiting around for someone to be better.

These protestors, the elected officials on their soap box peddling to an uninformed and close-minded audience, represent some of the very worst of our society. They appear civil but their hateful actions show that not only are they uninformed, but that they choose to remain uniformed. Just like the Muslims they condemn who choose to only view the world within the constraints of their own perspectives, these officials and protestors also choose to view Muslims and Islam within their own tunneled vision.

Their cries invoking America and their flag waving is just as hypocritical and misdirected as terrorists shouting “Allahuakbar” or “God is Great”. Neither understands nor represents the thing they claim to be or be acting on behalf of. These people are not true patriots, nor people of faith, just as terrorists who kill in the name of God couldn’t be further removed from Him.

What we have here is far beyond the bounds of Islamophobia. There is no fear of Islam here; there is just an outright hatred of Islam and Muslims. And as far as the lofty credentials go when it comes to these elected officials, they’re about worth as much to me as used toilet paper. It’s one thing for the crowd to have acted as they did; they’re a mob. But elected officials have a duty to show a little more intelligence and not fuel fires.

If these people REALLY care about Islamism, and truly wish to deal with the problem, then the solution isn’t attacking Muslims at an event – which will only increase Muslim insecurity, causing them to withdraw and ferment anti-American “they hate us” sentiment. Ask yourselves this, did ONE sentence, one speech or one poster board sign do ANYTHING to redirect even ONE Muslim away from what YOU perceive as radical Islam?

No. What it did do is make them more vulnerable to the words of flamed anti-West, anti-Israeli rhetoricians that would have their ears as soon as they walked through those doors.

The only thing these protestors and elected officials did is ensure the problem gets worse. They proved there is a hatred of Islam, especially as more and more elected officials feel confident enough to voice inaccurate, hateful, and threatening speech in a public forum.

ICNA affiliate Waqas Syed puts it best when he says,

“These qualities [cooperation, collaboration, peace, and mutual understanding] should be foremost represented in our elected officials, yet it is with great disappointment that we witnessed Congressmen Ed Royce of Fullerton and Gary Miller of Diamond Bar being complicit in the toxic, inflammatory rhetoric that was spewed against the half million American Muslims they have sworn to protect. Their participation in such rallies is inappropriate and irresponsible, to say the least, and essentially shows a lack of leadership and judgment.

To Congressmen Ed Royce and Gary Miller—it is your civic duty to represent all constituents, yet time and again you have stood beside those who seek to strip American Muslims of their fundamental rights. You distribute flags at a rally against our fundraising dinner, but do not extend that service to the dinner itself. You speak out against American Muslims in Yorba Linda, but do not speak for us. Your biased actions contribute to a climate of hate and intolerance, and suggest that American Muslims are somehow less American simply by virtue of their faith. I urge you to revisit your oath and uphold the constitution and your responsibility to the citizens of your district.”

ICNAWaqas’ commentary aside, the real problem is ICNA, which has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The fact that the evening’s fundraising event speakers included Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Imam Siraj Wahhaj doesn’t help the defense of ICNA’s innocence in the eyes of the Muslim community.

These facts should have been the protest’s focus, rather than protestors making fools of themselves by attacking the Muslim attendees with complete nonsense commentary. I can guarantee many attendees were not even aware of ICNA’s suspicious activities and would have benefited far more from a calm peaceful organization where the core issue, ICNA, was addressed with a degree of intelligence.

As for the attendees, I give them great credit for not engaging with the protestors, for not shouting back as far as I can tell, for walking through the protesting crowd peacefully. This couldn’t have been easy to do and I give each and every attendee full credit for remaining so composed.

With hate levels rising, Muslims need to start getting informed. We need to know where the opinions are coming from, which are based on truth and which aren’t. If you’ve heard something negative about ICNA, don’t just ignore it but investigate it. Stop being defensive.

See what’s being said about your faith, about your community and organizations, even if you don’t believe it. Above all, get involved with your community – and I don’t mean just your Muslim community.

And finally, dress the part. Looking like a migrant Muslim farm worker who just stepped off the boat isn’t going to give the right impression that you’re a sharp, well-educated member of American society. Ditch the ethnic wear and accept a more stylish wardrobe – or learn to seamlessly fuse the two. Men should be in suits or business casual attire in such public venues as fundraising events – especially if you know there’s going to be protestors present. Women, while they can still be covered, shouldn’t look like they’re messily wrapped in layers of bed sheets.

As Muslims we can’t just play victim and say “oh look how they’re treating us.” We have to be smart. We have to educate ourselves. We have to step outside our comfort zones. And we have to accept the call to duty to do our part to create positive changes in our society.

Editor’s Note | March 4, 2011

Not surprisingly, the featured video by CAIR misinforms the public and makes it appear that there was one general protest and rally, when in fact there were two.

icna_5While the rally organizers are distancing themselves from what they say were rogue protestors, it doesn’t change the rhetoric of Villa Park Councilwoman, Deborah Pauly, who I’m told is also the Vice Chair of the Orange County Republican Central Committee. Nor does it take away from Royce’s associations and his inaccurate stance against multiculturalism.

Please also refer to the insightful comment offered below by reader “Brooklynjon”, who had this to share:

Reading the article about the day’s events in the Orange County Register – http://www.ocregister.com/news… – it seems that there were, in essence two protests that day. One protest consisted in roughly 1000 people gathered listening to speeches which evidently denounced two of the speakers at the ICNA fund raiser, Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. I do not personally know these men, but evidently one was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the other notably supports groups listed by the State Department as terrorist organizations. It seems plausible to me that one can be opposed to these particular individuals without harboring hatred to the peaceful majority of American Muslims, or to Islam in general. Of note, this protest occurred outside the venue, did not interfere with the speakers or the attendees, and was apparently peaceful, both in the letter and the spirit of that term. This protest was attended by a US Congressman, and evidently “a couple of rabbis” among others. Again, not having attended personally, it does not seem to have been an entirely inappropriate venue for the congressman or the rabbis.

According to the article, there was a second protest which broke off this larger protest. The second protest, according to the article, was around 50 yards from the community center entrance, and consisted in around 100 people. These individuals were captured on video shouting things to those people arriving for the fund raiser. No doubt the things that were shouted were mean-spirited and in exceptionally poor taste. Although I support the right of these individuals to say things in poor taste (so long as they don’t inspire violence), I can’t say I agree with the sentiments expressed. Nevertheless, there were apparently no threats of violence, there was suitable police protection, and there was an appropriate distance maintained. Photos on the OCRegister’s page show people attending the fund-raiser, walking past the protest, and laughing, apparently untroubled and unthreatened by distasteful epithets hurled their way. Also noteworthy is that the speeches by the allegedly objectionable speakers were not interrupted in any way. It appears that free speech was the big winner that day, for better or for worse.

….

Secondly, the controversial speakers did, evidently, get to speak without incident or interruption. This notably contrasts with what happened almost exactly a year prior when Ambassador Michael Oren was invited to speak at UC Irvine. At that event, the ambassador was repeatedly shouted down and interrupted in an attempt to prevent him from speaking. This was, of course, not the first time an Israeli politician’s speech was disrupted in North America, and not the first time an objectionable speaker was disrupted by Muslims at UCI – http://www.jewishjournal.com/t… But it is notable for its location, and for the respect for controversial free speech displayed by one group – http://www.jewishjournal.com/t… – and the lack of respect for it displayed by the other. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

 

>> See related article: “ICNA Protest Organizer Responds to ‘Hate Comes to Orange County'”.

 

 

 

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Category: U.S.

About the Author (Author Profile)

Shireen Qudosi is a Top 10 North American Muslim Reformer. She founded Qudosi Chronicles shortly after 9-11 when she noticed a widespread failure in honest conversations about Islam. Since it’s launch, Qudosi Chronicles has developed a broad and diverse following that has helped spark Muslim reform. Shireen is half Pakistani, half Afghan and a Sufi American Muslim who feels strongly that Islam is fated for an evolutionary leap in consciousness. And that leap is necessary in order for a global world of people to take the next collective step in advancing human dignity and excellence.

Comments (3)

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  1. Alex says:

    Very well said. Republicans ought to be ashamed, and Christians too.

  2. Brooklynjon says:

    Shireen,

    Let me first say that I was not at the event on February 13, neither do I know anyone who was there. Let me also say that I believe strongly in the right of free speech, and free practice of religion, as bedrock principles of our country, applying equally to speech that I approve, and speech that I find noxious.

    Having said that, I appreciate your nuanced view of the events of February 13, but I wonder if you got it quite right.

    Reading the article about the day’s events in the Orange County Register – http://www.ocregister.com/news/america-288163-fundraiser-wahhaj.html – it seems that there were, in essence two protests that day. One protest consisted in roughly 1000 people gathered listening to speeches which evidently denounced two of the speakers at the ICNA fund raiser, Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. I do not personally know these men, but evidently one was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the other notably supports groups listed by the State Department as terrorist organizations. It seems plausible to me that one can be opposed to these particular individuals without harboring hatred to the peaceful majority of American Muslims, or to Islam in general. Of note, this protest occurred outside the venue, did not interfere with the speakers or the attendees, and was apparently peaceful, both in the letter and the spirit of that term. This protest was attended by a US Congressman, and evidently “a couple of rabbis” among others. Again, not having attended personally, it does not seem to have been an entirely inappropriate venue for the congressman or the rabbis.

    According to the article, there was a second protest which broke off this larger protest. The second protest, according to the article, was around 50 yards from the community center entrance, and consisted in around 100 people. These individuals were captured on video shouting things to those people arriving for the fund raiser. No doubt the things that were shouted were mean-spirited and in exceptionally poor taste. Although I support the right of these individuals to say things in poor taste (so long as they don’t inspire violence), I can’t say I agree with the sentiments expressed. Nevertheless, there were apparently no threats of violence, there was suitable police protection, and there was an appropriate distance maintained. Photos on the OCRegister’s page show people attending the fund-raiser, walking past the protest, and laughing, apparently untroubled and unthreatened by distasteful epithets hurled their way. Also noteworthy is that the speeches by the allegedly objectionable speakers were not interrupted in any way. It appears that free speech was the big winner that day, for better or for worse.

    Two things struck me, however. On the video posted by CAIR – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NutFkykjmbM – images of the daytime protest, which seemed to be a calm protest against the allegedly extreme ideology espoused by the speakers, was deliberately conflated with images of the small group projecting invective at the attendees. CAIR also noted the presence of a notable rabbi from Chabad who I could not definitively place at the protest, and certainly not in the small group saying hurtful things about Islam. Their intent is clear: any legitimate criticism of controversial figures is immediately spun into illegitimate hate speech. Anyone who might have anything negative to say about any Muslim is branded a rabid, foaming Islamophobe. This is obviously a deliberate smear campaign meant to silence any legitimate criticism.

    Secondly, the controversial speakers did, evidently, get to speak without incident or interruption. This notably contrasts with what happened almost exactly a year prior when Ambassador Michael Oren was invited to speak at UC Irvine. At that event, the ambassador was repeatedly shouted down and interrupted in an attempt to prevent him from speaking. This was, of course, not the first time an Israeli politician’s speech was disrupted in North America, and not the first time an objectionable speaker was disrupted by Muslims at UCI – http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/hotbeds_of_anti_israel_rhetoric/. But it is notable for its location, and for the respect for controversial free speech displayed by one group – http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/using_anne_frank_during_palestinian_awareness_week_20090512/ – and the lack of respect for it displayed by the other. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w96UR79TBw

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