About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ayloush: Condemn hateful rhetoric against Muslims (OC Register)

April 05, 2011|
Orange County Register 

Let me clear a few misconceptions about the American Muslim community, generally used as a cover to fuel anti-Muslim sentiment:

1. American Muslims support the exercise of First Amendment by individuals or groups to protest speakers, voice concerns, dissent, and even spew hatred. We support the same constitutional right to challenge bigotry and its enablers, particularly if the enablers are public officials who are sworn to protect the Constitution yet engage in promoting bigotry against an entire faith or ethnic community.

2. American Muslims categorically condemn any and all acts of violence against civilians – a principled stance rooted in our Islamic faith. Only a week ago, the Register quoted me on this subject. Moreover, American Muslims have zero tolerance for bigotry against any group of people based on religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Therefore, any attempt to paint American Muslims as otherwise is abhorrent. Now, here is a summary of events that unfolded at the Feb. 13 ICNA Relief charity dinner:

A group of right-wing activists and groups mobilized a wide grassroots effort to protest two speakers – a legitimate activity – at the charity dinner. The charity dinner was held to raise money for women's shelters and to fight homelessness.

CAIR-LA did not organize the charity dinner, but being a civil rights organization sent observers to document possible anti-Muslim bigotry and hate at the protest rally.

The "peaceful protest," as described by Rabbi David Eliezrie, was not so peaceful. Starting a couple hours before the charity dinner, the speakers whipped up anti-Muslim sentiment among protesters with their comments. Karen Lugo, a California Civil Rights Commission advisory committee appointee, advocated discriminating against Muslims, saying: "When we have a group that is asking for special preferences and special treatment, it is not a matter of discrimination to say no when a group is less than one percent of our population."

Councilwoman Deborah Pauly said at the rally: "These who are assembling are enemies of America. They are your enemy. They are my enemy because they seek to destroy it." The councilwoman further said in her speech, to the applause of her audience, "I know quite a few Marines who will be happy to help these terrorists [pointing toward the location of the Muslim charity dinner] to an early meeting in paradise."

News articles reported Rabbi Eliezrie as a speaker at the rally. Does Rabbi Eliezrie, as a Jewish leader, not see the sad parallel between this dehumanizing rhetoric and that of 1930s Nazi Germany which later led to the horrors of the Holocaust?

In light of the above professed anti-Muslim rhetoric, is it any surprise that many of the protesters started yelling hateful slurs such as "Go home terrorist." "Muhammad is a pervert." "Muhammad is a child molester." "Go home and beat your wife. She needs a good beating," once Muslim families began showing up to the charity event? Some protesters even blew shofars, declaring a battle against Muslims.

Public officials and protesters have a right to protest any speaker, but it is not acceptable for them to use such protest as a pretext to launch and incite a hateful attack on an entire religion and its followers, and support violence and discrimination against them.

Instead of insulting Americans' intelligence by attempting to re-write the history of the "peaceful protest" and blaming CAIR-LA's video – which we completely stand by – for exposing the hate fest, Rabbi Eliezrie and rally speakers should have the moral integrity to take responsibility for their role in enabling this despicable incident against peaceful families and children. They have a responsibility to condemn the hateful rhetoric at every stage in the rally and apologize to the American Muslim community and Orange County residents for the pain and embarrassment they have caused.

Let us begin a process of healing by becoming agents of unity and peace rather than engaging in McCarthyesque tactics to demonize and marginalize American Muslims.

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