Orange County News

OC protesters rally at Islamic fundraiser

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hundreds protested in Orange County on Sunday night, accusing speakers at an Islamic fundraiser of being radical Muslims.

"You're messing with Americans now. We're not England, we're not British, we're Americans," one protester yelled.

The protesters are upset over the speakers who headlined an event at the Yorba Linda Community Center. Spokesman Waqas Syed said the Islamic Circle of North America is raising money to fight homelessness and abuse, and the speakers were only invited to talk about their charity work.

Brooklyn-based Imam Siraj Wahhaj was once named as a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but he was never charged.

"He has said specifically he is in favor of Sharia law and stoning of women," said Rep. Ed. Royce.

Imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali publicly supports Hezbollah, which the CIA calls a terrorist group.

"These people are known terrorist instigators, not even terrorist sympathizers," said activist Deborah Pauly.

"They may have views which may or may not be political and which we may or may not agree with," Syed said. "There is absolutely no basis to the fact that we are connected with any of the terrorist organizations."

But hundreds of protesters don't buy Syed's explanation and staged a rally they say was both patriotic and religious. Some protesters even played the shofar, which is usually sounded on the Jewish high holy days.

"It's also used in battle to announce to the enemy that God's army is coming," said Dena Newman of San Dimas.

The crowd screamed things like, "Go home you terrorists" at those entering the Yorba Linda Community Center.

"As an American citizen, it is hurtful. I'm being told to go back home. I'm actually from Fullerton, so I don't know where back home is for me. Back home is Fullerton," said Adel Syed of Fullerton.

Many protesters argued that First Amendment rights only go so far.

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