PALMDALE – The Antelope Valley Muslim community is demanding an apology from a local public official whom they say is responsible for circulating an email promoting “Islamophobia” in the Antelope Valley.
They claim Frank Donato, Board Member of the Antelope Valley East Kern Water Agency, sent around an email with the subject header, “Another Famous American becomes a Muslim.”
The email reads:
It is becoming a very scary world out there . . . . .
Another Famous American converts to Islam …
It was announced today that Buckwheat,
Of Our Gang fame, has converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name to:
Kareem of Wheat.
I just hope he doesn’t become a cereal killer.
Kamal Al-Khatib, President of the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley says the email was forwarded to him from a credible source. The source said he was one of several people who received the email from Frank Donato Thursday.
“These comments and behavior are not acceptable by an elected official who took the oath to represent everybody in his district,” said Al-Khatib. “This is sad and unfortunate to see this kind of behavior is continuing to come from the Lancaster group. We demand that he retracts these comments, publicly apologize to the Muslim community, and educate himself about Islam.”
Contacted Saturday, Donato strongly denied sending the email, owning the email address from where the email was sent (firstname.lastname@example.org), or even knowing who Buckwheat was.
“I am extremely well-known in the Valley, so somebody could have cut and paste something and used me as a scapegoat, because I don’t know anything about a Buckwheat,” said Donato. “When you say Buckwheat, I’m thinking about IHop, because I don’t know what the hell Buckwheat is, what does Buckwheat have to do with a serial killer?”
Donato said he knows Al-Khatib very well, and he was hoping to talk with him and straighten things out.
“I have respect for Kamal… I’ve done so much business with him and his brother, so I don’t know who this person was [who sent the email],” said Donato. “I didn’t send anything to anybody or try to insult anybody so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Al-Khatib says he is not buying Donato’s story. He says he verified the email address as belonging to Donato, he believes his source, and he will continue to pressure Donato for a public apology.
“If he apologizes, I’m going to put it to rest,” said Al-Khatib. “If not, he will face problems.”
Al-Khatib says if Donato does not apologize, he intends to file complaints with the AV Human Relations Commission and CAIR, and take the story to the national media.
“These are his words, I know that these are his words,” said Al-Khatib. “This is something behind the scenes, he didn’t think anybody would see this.”