Live Broadcast from CA Mosque Draws Packed Audience


Mission Viejo, CA: On Thursday, July 21, the Orange County Islamic Foundation (OCIF) hosted the first-ever live talk show radio broadcast from an American mosque. The event was coordinated by the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA).
A standing room packed audience of over 200 people, including members of the community, mosque, and media, converged at the mosque to listen live to the “John and Ken Show” on KFI 640 AM, which was aired from 3PM to 7PM. Among the attendees were dozens of John and Ken listeners who drove to the event from all over Southern California to meet with them and visit a mosque for the first time.
The four-hour-long milestone event, with talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Champiou, featured Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-LA, Mohannad Malas, Board member of OCIF, and Yassir Fazaga, Religious leader (Imam) of OCIF.
“The purpose of this [broadcast] is to find out what American Muslims are about,” said Kobylt. “Islam in America was defined by 9/11,” he stated, calling on American Muslims to publicly combat long-held stereotypes and misconceptions.
A wide range of issues were discussed during the broadcast. Muslims strongly condemned acts of terrorism, referring to the attacks on 9/11 and the recent London bombings. Speakers stressed that the majority of Muslims are peace-loving and law-abiding. However, typically in the aftermath of an attack, Muslims are collectively blamed and are targets of hate crimes.
Audience members had a chance to participate by asking questions and commenting live during the show.
America’s foreign policy, the Muslim women dress code, and profiling were hot topics of discussion.
The idea for the broadcast from a Mosque came during an hour-long interview on the John and Ken Show last Thursday, July 14th with CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. (To listen to the interview, go to www.cair-california.org/interview.mp3.)
The audio of the 4-hour live broadcast will be made available soon. An Orange County Register report by Ann Pepper on the event says:
Fan- proclaimed "talk-radio heroes" John & Ken gave the microphone to Muslims on Thursday as they took their afternoon show to the Orange County Islamic Foundation...
By the end of the show on KFI/640 AM, the two had made it clear they felt they had heard a sincere expression of opposition to terrorism from Orange County's Islamic community.
Chiampou said young Muslim "jihadists in the Middle East" behave "almost like they had joined a gang." And Kobylt acknowledged that terrorists have left the local Muslim community in a tough spot.
"Islam in America was defined by 9/11, and ... now you guys are fighting an uphill battle trying to explain that you are not all terrorists, that you don't all want to kill us."
The show's timing couldn't have been more appropriate, after the report of a second, though unsuccessful, bomb attack on London's public transportation system.
The packed audience of more than 100 was split between members of the Muslim community and non-Islamic fans of John & Ken.
Many, such as Don Black, 59, of Lake Forest thought Muslims should make a greater effort to show their stance against terrorism.
"Why don't they hold some kind of major event and have Muslim imams publicly denounce terrorism in a way that would catch the attention of the press?" he asked.
Imam Yassir Fazaga, foundation board member Mohanad Malas and Hassam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, took turns condemning terrorism and urging others not to identify terrorism with their faith.
"After 9/11 every Muslim leader and scholar in every Muslim country denounced what had happened," Ayloush said.
He blamed the media for ignoring their voices in favor of covering more colorful but isolated incidents of celebration in the Middle East.
"I will admit we didn't realize we (in the United States) needed to speak out," he said of his community's belief that their countrymen wouldn't connect them to the attacks.
Several Muslim women said covering their hair was an act of faith and their own decision.

"I am so happy that we have this opportunity to condemn acts by people who are vicious," said Rania Abdellatif, 34, of Laguna Niguel. "I'm Islamic, and these acts are far from what our faith teaches. I'm surprised to have John and Ken here today. Because of the bombing in London it couldn't be a better time for them to come and let us condemn these horrific acts."

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