Southern Calif. Muslim Called 'Raghead,' Assaulted by July 4th Revelers
Anaheim , CA: The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) July 7 reported that a Muslim volunteer staffing an information booth outside an Inland Empire mosque was allegedly assaulted by two revelers on their way to a July 4th fireworks show. CAIR-LA is urging local law enforcement authorities and the FBI to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.
The alleged victim, who is a Navy reservist, reported to CAIR-LA that he was staffing a booth in front of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco (ISCN) on Sunday evening to answer questions about Islam and Muslims from people passing by to attend the city's fireworks display at Santana Park. The booth included a sign stating, "Ask a Muslim." Members of the mosque were also distributing bottled water to those attending the city's fireworks show -- as had been the mosque's custom in the past.
According to the Muslim victim, one of two men who were walking toward the park saw the booth and yelled, "This is bulls**t." The Muslim volunteer replied, "I'll answer any questions that you have." That reply was allegedly met with, "I'm going to knock you out." According to eyewitness accounts, both men charged at the mosque volunteer and punched him in the face.
When one of the assailants was arrested, he reportedly suggested that the arresting officer "kick out" all the "ragheads."
"It is extremely troubling to see an American allegedly targeted for his religious beliefs during a celebration honoring our nation's historic values of pluralism and equality," said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Manager Affad Shaikh. "We thank the Corona Police Department for taking swift action and urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime."
ISCN's Outreach Committee Chairman Yousuf Bhaghani said: "The mosque and its growing congregation have made many positive contributions to the Inland Empire area and to see one of its members treated this way is disheartening. We thank the Corona police department for taking immediate action and call on them and the Riverside County District Attorney's office to investigate this incident as a potential hate crime and hope that the perpetrator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
He also noted that some 50 members of the mosque had participated in the city's 12th Annual Hometown USA parade a day earlier.
CAIR-LA is urging American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.