It is a late afternoon and a crowd mostly made up of Tea Party members are standing outside a community center protesting against a meeting that Muslims from their community are having, shouting all sorts of degrading remarks about Islam, Muslims and the beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw).
What was surprising about this event was that it didn’t take place in a region that has never seen or heard about Muslims or Islam before — this was Orange County, California.
And while Orange County might be infamous for being extremely right wing and politically conservative, it was shocking to see this kind of backlash against Muslims in their own community, as the Muslim community in Orange County is fairly large and has been there for decades.
Interestingly enough, this protest happened at an ICNA Relief fundraiser to build a homeless shelter for women, fight against hunger and other reliefs programs for Southern California. Yet protesters were shouting slogans such as, “Never forget 911,” “We like our U.S. Constitution,” “Under One God not Allah” and “We don’t want your Shariah law here.”
As I was watching the video of the protest, I asked myself “Is it their fault they are misguided and uninformed or is it our own fault as the Muslim community for not communicating what Muslims really believe?” One can only wonder if any of them were aware the meeting inside the building was how to improve the community they live in.
I believe that if these protesters knew that it was a fundraiser to build a homeless shelter for women, fight against hunger and other relief programs, as opposed to thinking Muslims are trying to replace the U.S. Constitution with “Shariah law,” many of them would not be in opposition.
Yes, many who have hatred towards Islam and Muslims would still be there, but the numbers would a lot less. And yes, the protest was organized by politicians and city officials, but the bulk of the protesters were residents of Orange County.
The sad reality is that there are some non-Muslim Americans that believe in the myth that Muslims in America want to “take over and rule this country” like “they do for the rest of the world”.
The average citizen of Orange County is not Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh but you don’t see people protesting outside the meetings or places of worship of those religions. Why? Because even though they don’t follow those faiths they don’t see them as a threat to their way of life.
As such, it is now on the shoulders of the Muslim American community to educate their non-Muslim community members on who Muslims really are and what they stand for.
If I had the opportunity to talk to those protesters I would have told them that just like you all, we Muslims are against child molestation, domestic violence and want women’s rights.
Just like you all, we believe in the God of Abraham. We follow Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and Noah and all the Prophets Christians and Jews believe in (peace be upon all of them).
The reason for this fundraiser is to raise funds for a shelter for the homeless and battered women here in Orange County. Just like all of you we want to make this community a better place. Yes, we have a different faith and beliefs, but our religion does not teach us to force others to convert or for us to impose Islam or Shariah on others.
As we practice our faith, it teaches us to abide by the local laws of the land. We believe and abide by the U.S. Constitution, State, County and city laws just like all other Americans. If you want me to go home, I’d have to go back to Northern California but I like SoCal too!