The silence from those who organized and promoted a California anti-Muslim protest that devolved into a revolting display of hatred has been deafening.
A major Muslim organization released a video compilation (no longer available) earlier this week that depicted a Feb. 13 rally in Yorba Linda promoted by several Muslim-bashing groups, conservative organizations, local and national politicians, and some Jewish leaders. Although the rally started out as a strident but peaceful protest against a Muslim fundraiser that included two highly controversial speakers, a group of about 100 protesters broke away from the main crowd and launched into a series of vicious tirades.
The video is chilling. Small children, clutching their parents’ hands fearfully as they arrive at the fundraiser, cower as people behind police lines wave American flags and scream, “Go back home! Go back home! Terrorists! Terrorists!” A tiny girl in a pink hijab walks past the camera as a man’s voice rises above the crowd: “Muhammad was a child molester!” he shouts. A woman, standing behind a police barrier, bellows at the Muslim cameraman. “You’re a terrorist!” she screams. “Go home, go home! … Do you beat your wife, too? Are you a molester? … You beat your women, your wife and your children. Why don’t you go beat up your wife like you do every night? Why not go have sex with a 9-year-old, marry her?”
The video, which also features a city councilwoman saying she knows some Marines who would be happy to send the “terrorists” attending the fundraiser “to an early meeting in paradise,” has caused an outcry from progressive journalists and many others. But not elsewhere. In fact, there was a triumphal tone from many, including some who might be expected to know better. “We protestors [sic] all represented our city well,” Yorba Linda Councilman John Anderson wrote after the event.” It was a “triumph,” crowed Pam Geller of the hate group Stop Islamization of America. The Jewish Journal wrote an account nine days after the rally that made no mention of the insults from speakers and other protesters, instead depicting a motherhood-and-apple-pie event populated by a wide array of people opposed to “hate.”
The fundraiser was organized by the relief arm of the New York-based Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) to raise funds for local services like women’s housing, disaster relief and funeral assistance. It quickly became controversial because its main speakers were Imam Abdul Malik Ali, who has made a whole series of patently anti-Semitic comments, and Imam Siraj Wahhah, who was a character witness for a blind New York City sheikh convicted in a terror conspiracy.
Yorba Linda Mayor Nancy Rikel, responding to a raft of angry E-mails, tried unsuccessfully to get ICNA to choose new speakers. Waqas Syed, the deputy secretary general of ICNA, told Hatewatch that both speakers were told to refrain from political oratory and did, adding that the whole episode had convinced ICNA to rework the way it vets speakers. He would not condemn Ali’s anti-Semitism.
A protest against such speakers certainly seems legitimate, and even the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the group that released the Yorba Linda video this week, said clearly that it supported the speech rights of the protesters. But as the CAIR and another video reviewed by Hatewatch make plain, the protest went from bad to worse as Muslim families began to arrive at the fundraiser.
“Let me tell you, what’s going on over there right now, make no bones about it, that is pure, unadulterated evil,” Deborah Pauly, a councilwoman from nearby Villa Park, barks into the microphone in some of the more hair-raising comments of the day. “Most Americans have no idea what’s going on right now and part of the reason why is we have been quiet. Those of us who know what’s going on have been cowed into silence out of fear. And I’m telling you we cannot afford to do that anymore. We have to go out and speak to our friends and our neighbors. We need to make sure everyone knows and I don’t even care, I don’t even care if you think I’m crazy any more. I have a beautiful daughter; I have a wonderful 19-year-old son who is a United States Marine. As a matter of fact, I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.”
Also speaking at podium was U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), who attacked “multiculturalism” because it has “paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make critical judgments.” Another congressman, U.S. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar), told the crowd, “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of what you’re doing.”
Some of what part of that crowd was doing was captured in CAIR’s six-minute video. They held signs and shouted at arriving families that Muhammad was a “child molester,” a “pervert” and a “false prophet.” “Take your Shariah,” one man shouted in a reference to Muslim religious law. “Go home. Eat sand!” The crowd’s venom was not in the slightest tamped down by the many children who, obviously terrified, accompanied their parents as they made their way into the fundraiser.
Perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that the much-ballyhooed “peaceful protest” went south so fast. Among those pushing the event are Brigitte Gabriel’s Muslim-bashing ACT! for America group (in 2009, Gabriel said the Koran motivates Muslims “towards greater atrocities in their religious stupor”); the hate group led by Geller, who has called Islam “the most … genocidal religion in the world” and said the 9/11 attackers practiced “pure Islam, original Islam”; far-right websites including FreeRepublic.com and DiscoverTheNetworks.org; and a local group called 911PrincipleConservatives that is part of Fox News host Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project and admirers of antigovernment conspiracy-monger Alex Jones. Also involved, according to The Jewish Journal story, were Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie of the North County Chabad Center; the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (whose leader, Barbara Coe, belongs to a group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity”); and Bikers for Christ, a motorcycle club. Rabbi Dov Fischer, heads a Modern Orthodox congregation in Irvine, also spoke.
Virtually none of these individuals or organizations has condemned the obvious racism and intolerance of many of the protesters and even the podium speakers, even as the CAIR video is viewed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Once you see the video, you may understand why these people would all rather forget.