Can you spot yours truly? (No jokes, please).
On Sunday, February 13, an estimated 1,000-1,500 people showed up at the Yorba Linda Community Center to protest an event hosted by the Islamic Circle of North America, in which the speakers were two known radical imams, Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn and Amir Abdel Malik Ali of Oakland. The protest cranked up a few hours before the ICNA dinner began and featured plenty of American flags, some Israeli flags, and several speakers (including yours truly). The event was also covered by the OC Register, KABC News of Los Angeles, and the LA Jewish Journal. Below are some of the reports.
Many of the attendees were affiliated with ACT for America (Riverside and Orange County chapters). Featured speakers included the mayor of Yorba Linda, three city councilpersons, US Congressman Ed Royce, two rabbis, a young woman from Egypt who had left Islam, one of my activist pals and yours truly. This event was intended to be a protest against radicalism and hate, and in that spirit, none of the speakers said anything objectionable. The ABC news crew began filming the speakers, but switched to another site when the dinner attendees began arriving. The reason is that about 100 protesters had taken up a position near the parking lot (which was barricaded by local police). They began chanting patriotic slogans like, "USA, USA, USA" and "No sharia". There were also some chants of "Go back home", (which I did not care for). I Personally stayed away from that part of the site. Yet, the protest remained peaceful (if noisy), and the police did a good job. Several hours before the event, I spoke with a couple of residents of Yorba Linda who were setting up some posters on the outside sidewalk which I felt were over the top. I asked them to reconsider the posters, but was getting nowhere until a young local pastor prevailed upon them to remove the signs.
ABC News was allowed into the event itself for only a few minutes to get a couple of sound bites of the speakers and an ICNA official speaking like true moderates. The speakers, Siraj Wahhaj and Amir Abdel Malik Ali, are anything but moderates. (I think Ali would actually be offended if you called him a moderate.) If you see the news videos, all you will see is the hundred or so protesters who were chanting at the attendees.
To be sure, the ICNA and their cohorts will label this as some sort of racist event. It was not. Hopefully, this may represent a turning point where the American people state unequivocally that we will not surrender our rights.
I am hoping to add a few more photos and a video of my speech.