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Say No to Hate Rally

March 22, 2011
Los Angeles, CA

People of conscience from various organizations, including ICNA, CAIR, CODEPINK, ANSWERLA, as well as concerned Villa Park residents and individuals came together in front of Villa Park City Hall to demand that Councilwoman Deborah Pauly apologize for the islamophobic and hateful speech she delivered at the anti-Muslim rally against the ICNA Relief organization on February 13th.

In attendance on Tuesday were also pro-Pauly protesters, although their numbers were much smaller, most of whom were part of the February 13 rally.
The protest was mostly peaceful, although some heated discussion took place between people from both groups who discussed issues of Sharia law, terrorism, freedom of speech, islamophobia, bible verses… In the end it was clear that pro-Muslim protesters believed in the right of Muslims to be free from religious persecution and hateful speech, especially coming from an elected official. The pro-Pauly side continued to defend Pauly’s right to freedom of speech, regardless of how hateful her words were, and were proud of her "patriotic" spirit and her commitment to "defend" them and their country from their Muslim neighbors.

One of the most remarkable and striking observation anyone who attended the rally could make is that the pro-Muslim protesters were of numerous religious and racial backgrounds, along with ranging in age from high school students to the elderly. This is not about Muslims plotting to take over the country but about people standing in solidarity with Muslims who were victims of hate speech and harassment as they were walking to a fund-raising dinner. The protest was also a statement against the growing islamophobia in this country and delivered a clear message that if elected officials demonstrate their islamophobia through their speech and their encouragement of people’s hateful speech and harassment the public will not accept it and will keep fighting until they are held accountable.

Written by Sanaa Bengholam