CORONA, California – The Islamic Society of Corona-Norco mosque tonight hosted a “vigil” under the headline “United we Stand” – and the speakers, from City Treasurers, local Mormon and Episcopal Church leaders, as well as Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) representatives and State Senators indeed stood together: in not using the word “terrorism” once in the 90 minute-long event.
For what it’s worth – the event was a far cry from the Dar Al Uloom press conference last week, which had ‘fundamentalism’ written all over it.
Tonight was this local, presumably Muslim Brotherhood affiliated mosque’s attempt to say, “Hey, we’re not ALL bad” – except not once did those on the panel discuss terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, or the Muslim community’s role in tackling extremism within their own ranks.
While attendees and speakers blamed the media, and in some cases, “candidates running for public office” (hint: they meant Donald Trump) – none of them seemed to realise that what they were doing was in fact part of the problem.
“Nothing to do with us,” was simply not good enough from a mosque associated with terrorist Syed Farook’s alleged weapons supplier Enrique Marquez. But they tried it anyway.
Shabana Haxton, the mosque’s Interfaith leader, opened the proceedings by urging Corona residents to “come together in unity and to build a dam against the flood of enmity” and “to challenge ignorance and prejudice” while Evan Heimlich of the local Beth Shalom synagogue said “the answer is the connections we have within the community”.
So far, so much nothing.
Try then Mormon leader Larry Aragon, who spoke of his “love and support for the Islamic community”, followed by Episcopalian “Deacon Karen”, who stated: “We live in a violent world… But we know that there is so much more violence around us… We too fear that we could become victims of violence of aggression” and concluded: “Forgive us God for own own prejudices.”
She even said we should “pray for the perpetrators of violence” – presumably so they wouldn’t commit the violence in the first place. Whatever she meant – it seemed oddly placed and terribly crass just over a week after 14 people were murdered in the terrorist atrocity just a few miles away. But of course her rhetoric was lapped up by the 400+ Muslims in the room, who had clearly adopted the victim mentality, egged on by their self-appointed representatives from organisations like CAIR.
And it didn’t stop there. The mosque’s president said: “United we can send the message to every racist, every bigot, every extremist who is trying to divide us” while City Treasurer Aron Hake began: “As-salamu alaykum… Shalom,” before stating: “when it was learned who was behind this I never questioned anyone in this room, anyone in this community. You.. All of us.. Are friends not enemies”.
It was all rather nice and feel good, but at least one woman in the audience didn’t buy it.
“I listened very carefully to the words that were said,” she stood up and declared.
“Work together.. Solidarity… What does that mean?”
But it didn’t deter further speakers, including Father John Saville from St John’s Episcopal Church, from further meaningless utterances such as: “God isn’t going to prevent mass shootings, God is going to leave that up to us”.
He added: “There will be no peace between the nations until there is peace between the religions and no peace between the religions until there is dialogue between them” before conceding that he was “preaching to the choir”.
Rafael Elizalde, a representative for Congressman Mark Takano who was apparently unable to attend because of Los Angeles traffic, said: “What happened last week was not Islam, it was not”.
Then came Senator Connie Leyva – a wannabe Elizabeth Warren if there ever was one:
“We talk about race but we always forget we are all part of one race – the human race,” she bleated.
“Love is going to win, hate is not going to win… Let us love each other more… Let us wipe hate out of our vocabulary”.
And of course, she had to quote Gandhi, demanding: “Let me be the change I want to see in the world” before adding: “We are going to move forward from this tragedy”.
Senator Richard Roth, another local dullard opined: “Frankly what happened was an attack on all of us… And yes an attack on Muslims as well”.
Then it was the turn of CAIR’s L.A. senior civil rights attorney, Fatima Dadabhoy, who churlishly implied that the real victims of last week’s terrorist atrocity was the Muslim community. She said it has been an “exceptionally difficult week for our entire south California community… We will not fall victim to fear and xenophobia… We will work together to counter oppression… Using our voices our votes and our dollars,” before concluding, “If you yourself become a victim of hate because you are Muslim.. Please let CAIR know”.
But her careless rhetoric drew ire from our sceptic in the audience, who noted that if the people in the room wanted their friends and family members to be protected: “Have them read the U.S. constitution.. Have them read the Federalist Papers… You want to say we are going to stand together you have to look at that flag… Not go running to some organisation to protect you”.
“I’m tired of political correctness,” she concluded. She asked journalists to keep her anonymous, for obvious reasons.
And not even the local policeman on the panel, Captain Brian Cervantes, who called tonight’s event a “special occasion” before almost urging people not to report suspicious behaviours or crimes to the police. He remarked of “Rumours floating around” on “social media” following an armed robbery at the Tyler Mall in Riverside.
“Inaccurate information” he said, led to an overzealous police response.
And then of course came the hand wringing from the crowd. “My child is afraid to identify as a Muslim,” remarked several members of the audience, before the wrap up by the Imam, who was out of place as a particularly jolly, relaxed, and almost modern individual.
We say almost, because after joking about how he had more problems getting into Saudi Arabia’s airport last month than he does at Los Angeles International, prayed in front of the room that the “burden of usury [money lending] and debt” would be lifted from the United States.
Ah, Shariah finance. We got there in the end.
“Amen,” they all chorused.