LA Mayor Apologizes to
Angeles, CA: On Sunday, August 6, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa met with leaders of the Muslim community to apologize
for what he called a miscommunication that prevented him from
attending an interfaith vigil organized by MPAC for the victims
of Middle East violence on July 16. The meeting came two days
after the Muslim leaders held a press conference on the steps
of LA City Hall to call on the Mayor to represent all Angelenos
after he made two appearances at pro-Israeli rallies.
SEE: "Mayor Meets With Muslim Leaders" (Los Angeles
As they did during the press conference, the Muslim leaders
stressed the need for inclusion of a Muslim perspective with
regard to issues of such universal significance, and explained
that the Mayor's failure to respond to repeated invitations
to local interfaith events mourning all the victims of Middle
East violence demonstrated a lack of sensitivity toward the
pain experienced by more than half a million Muslims living
in Southern California.
"We appreciate him giving us the time, especially during
the weekend," said Dr. Maher Hathout. "We have no
problem with the Jewish people or Judaism or people supporting
whichever political view they feel, but there is a difference
between the Jewish people and the actions of the state of
Israel. This is what we have reservations about."
SEE: "Muslim Leaders Demand Inclusion" (Los Angeles
"I am speaking as a Latina. You are a role model for
the Latino community, which is not fully educated about this
issue," said Khadija Galedary, who is president of the
LA Latino Muslim Association. "When they see you going
to a pro-Israeli rally, you send the message that it is ok
to support Israel. You are supposed to stand for human dignity."
During the hour-long meeting, Mayor Villaraigosa sought to
dispel notions that Muslim voices were being excluded in local
discourse on the Middle East crisis. He also reiterated that
he was elected to serve all residents of Los Angeles, and
said that no one should be excluded.
"Expressing concern for the innocent victims of conflicts
is a commendable act," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive
Director of CAIR-LA. "But, it has to be done for all
victims in order not to create the perception that one group
of victims is more important than the other, which I know
is not the case with Mayor Villaraigosa."
Among other Muslim leaders who attended the meeting included
(in alphabetical order): Ahmed Ali (Council of Pakistan American
Affairs), Imam Abdelkarim Hassan (Bilal Islamic Center), Imam
Naim Shah (Ilm Foundation), Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Shakeel
Syed (Islamic Shura Council of Southern California).
"Mayor Villaraigosa demonstrated leadership in taking
responsibility and is determined to move forward in the most
constructive way," MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati