Skip to main content

Coalition Forms In San Diego To Fight Islamophobia

Hugh Mohammad of the Nation of Islam speaks at the press conference, Tuesday,...

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: Hugh Mohammad of the Nation of Islam speaks at the press conference, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

Coalition Forms In San Diego To Fight Islamophobia

GUEST:

Hanif Mohebi, executive director, San Diego chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations

Transcript

The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Tuesday the formation of a "Forum on Religious Freedom" in response to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

San Diego faith and civil rights leaders are uniting against President Trump’s executive order that places a temporary ban on refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Tuesday the formation of a "Forum on Religious Freedom" coalition that will fight Islamophobia in San Diego.

The coalition includes more than 20 faith and civil rights groups as well as clergy, elected officials, businesses, educational institutions and individuals, according to CAIR San Diego Executive Director Hanif Mohebi.

"The focus of this group is going to be to make sure that the American-Muslim community is not marginalized, that the American-Muslim community is not targeted, that hate, bigotry, Islamophobia is not accepted," Mohebi said at a news conference at a Clairemont area mosque.

Trump's order, signed Friday, suspends all refugee entries for 120 days, indefinitely blocks all Syrian refugees, and bars entry for 90 days to all immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Mohebi said the order discriminates against Muslims and fuels bigotry against Muslim-Americans.

"We are going to work day and night, beyond this presidency to make sure that such things never happen to begin with," he said, while flanked by dozens of coalition members who have pledged support for the forum.

Mohebi said they would be organizing educational forums and town hall meetings, reaching out to legislators, setting up an emergency hotline and establishing a $200,000 legal fund.

"We're already getting calls from national, from our other chapters, to duplicate this effort, but it is a project that has started in San Diego," Mohebi said.

CAIR is the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

"Today we are sending a strong and powerful message like many other communities around the nation to our administration, just to tell them that what you are doing is wrong," said Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego. "It's not acceptable, and we can never allow such discriminatory policies to take place in our nation."

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, said her organization was standing up with its Muslim brothers and sisters because standing down was not an option.

"Bowing down is not an option in a time such as we're living, where our very constitutional principles — the freedom of religion, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech — are at stake," Guerrero said. "When we have a president who dares to try to strip those things away from us, who seeks to divide us, who seeks to exclude us, we must stand up."

The Forum on Religious Freedom has been endorsed by Alliance San Diego, NAACP San Diego and ACLU San Diego.

Religious leaders who spoke at the press conference repeatedly emphasized the importance of embracing refugees in accordance with the mandates of their holy books.

"We should not just be a country that accepts Christians," said Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network in San Diego. "We should be a country that accepts all people. I challenge the hard-right Christians and theologians to actually come out of your temples and stand with the people."

A town hall meeting is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the San Diego Islamic Center in Clairemont.

CAIR San Diego asked Muslim community members who believe their rights have been violated to contact local police and CAIR San Diego at (858) 278-4547 or file a report online at: ca.cair.com/sandiego.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.