LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich is in trouble with Muslim community leaders over a comment he made in the aftermath of the San Bernardino County massacre.
In a speech to constituents after the shooting, Antonovich said, “The first thing I asked about this incident, was the guy named Muhammad?”
It upset some people who said it unfairly singled out Muslims over other perpetrators of mass shootings.
“That is an insensitive statement coming from somebody in power like the supervisor,” Kamal Al-Khatib, president and co-founder of American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, in Palmdale, told the Los Angeles Times.
Al-Khatib said Muslims are fearful of backlash stemming from the attack.
“We are a victim too. Every time something happens, we are another victim,” he said.
In response to the criticism, Antonovich said, “Radical Islamists have declared war on the United States.”
“On July 16th, four United States Marines were attacked and killed by Mohammed Abdulazeez,” he said. “In November, four University of California students were attacked and stabbed by Faisal Mohammed. Last week in the Paris massacre, at least two of the 11 attackers and planners were named Mohammed.”
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, said his organization has heard of an increase in threats against mosques and Muslim community members since Wednesday’s rampage. He said some Islamic schools closed Thursday and mosques took extra security precautions.
“During these challenging times, our country needs real leaders, not self-serving, immoral politicians who exploit people’s anxiety and fear to fuel the phobia and paranoia,” he said, according to The Times. “I’m sure he didn’t ask on the weekend when there was a shooting in Colorado Springs if the shooter’s name was Michael, because I know I didn’t ask that.”
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