When you hear the words “Orange County,” I’m sure you have an image that comes to your head very much like the ones on television shows “The O.C.” or “The Real Wives of Orange County.” The image I have, after having organized there for the past two years, is very different. The O.C. is a largely diverse county, with a “minority majority” where only 45% of the population is White and 17% of the population of Asian descent, according to the recent 2009 Census report. The largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam resides in Garden Grove in Little Saigon, and Santa Ana is an epicenter of the Latino population. And of course, the Muslims. There is a large population of Muslims scattered across the county – in fact, according to a religious study from 2000, it is the 5th most popular religion in the county, representing 1.4 percent of the population of The O.C. I’m sure the statistics on this will be different if you look at 2011 result of the region on religion.
Why am I telling you about this other perspective of Orange County? To give you context as you watch this video, released by CAIR-LA on Wednesday.
The above video was filmed at a rally in February, outside of a fundraiser for the Islamic Circle of North America, a charity driven international Muslim organization.
The event – held at Yorba Linda Community Center, a facility that has been frequented by Muslim families and businesses over the years – first became a target of anti-Muslim bigots over two of the fundraiser’s speakers, who were to speak on the importance of charity in Islam. [cair-la]
What was most disturbing to me, albeit not surprising since I’ve had to build relationships with Electeds in this region, is the statements that came from the politicians that spoke at the rally. Councilwoman Deborah Pauly clearly implied that all the Muslims should be murdered. In light of what happened with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, due to the hate sentiments fueled in the community (as well as by Sarah Palin) and a lunatic eventually retaliating with a gun shot in to head… Well. Can Deborah Pauly really be that ignorant to not make a connection that her words could have the same effect? Or maybe she knows, and simply doesn’t care.
Villa Park Councilwoman, Deborah Pauly, while addressing the crowd at the rally, appeared to threaten Muslim event-goers. Congressman Ed Royce (R-40), in a troubling trend of disparaging Islam and its followers, added fuel to the fire by encouraging protesters to continue on with their hate-mongering. The attendance of Congressman Gary Miller (R-42) was a clear surprise, since he previously has engaged with all constituents, including Muslims, toward a better America. [cair-la]
But this situation isn’t simply a one-off of crazy tea-baggers in Orange County. There have been a string of Islamaphobic stories recently in Orange County – from the protesting of the construction of mosques to a hijabi woman fighting for her job at Disneyland because she wanted to wear her hijab to work. But the biggest story currently comes from UC Irvine, with the case of the Irvine 11.
The students — 8 currently at UC Irvine and 3 UC Riverside graduates — were charged with with two misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and disturbance of the meeting by the Orange County District Attorney’s office on Friday, only a few days after a protest was staged outside of the DA’s office in support of the so-called ‘Irvine 11.’ Continue reading