An open lecture at Scripp’s College in Southern California ignited a firestorm of anti-Muslim sentiment last month when a group in the audience challenged the lecturer about his views on Islamic terrorism and President Trump’s immigration policies.
Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), addressed the Scripps’ audience on the subject of American-Islamic Relations and xenophobic rhetoric in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
The lecture, titled, “Muslims Not Welcome: The Political Ramifications of Islamophobia,” came as part of the school’s Tuesday Noon Academy speaker series held in conjunction with the Scripps Humanities Institute.
The first 30 minutes of the lecture were uneventful as the speaker went through his talking points – the objective being to mold and influence the audience’s perception of Muslims and the Muslim culture in America, cast Muslims as being targeted for attacks and vilified, and throw stones at Americans’ “irrational fear of Muslims.” Its dual purpose was to brand Americans with European ancestry as Islamophobics, racists, xenophobes, bigots and white supremacists who need to be ostracized and silenced, and to brand the president of the United States as a racist xenophobe tearing families apart.
“We will not accept to be treated as victims or second-class citizens. I will not apologize for being a Muslim and I will ask my community to never apologize, never to have to explain itself,” he told the group. “Our country was built on a sense of supremacy… superiority. The earlier Europeans came in thinking they were superior to the native Americans.”
“Islamophobia is just a new chapter in the long history of xenophobia, and bigotry, and ignorance that has always existed. Charlottesville is just an ugly reminder that racism is alive and well in our country.”
With that the floor opened up to what would turn into snide responses from the speaker and a shouting match between audience members and the director of the Scripps Humanities Institute, Professor Hao Huang.
“What’s CAIR’s stance on suicide bombings?” an older gentleman in the audience asked.
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Ayloush shot back. “What’s your stance?”
The man then went on to say to the speaker, “The reason people are leery of you people…”
With that the room erupted and Professor Hao Huang told the audience member, “You don’t belong here if you can’t shut up. Shut up!”
After a screaming match telling each other to shut up, the man concentrated his efforts on the lecturer who ultimately refused to answer his stance on suicide bombings and instead said, “As a Muslim, I cannot enter paradise if I didn’t believe in the sanctity of life.”
The man in the audience then went on a tirade. “Isn’t it true that in the Quran you’re encouraged to lie to the infidel?” When Ayloush replied in the negative the man went on to read scriptures directly from the Quran to prove his point before eventually storming out of the room.
The session opens up to the Q&A at around 27 minutes.
As the Q&A progressed, a Scripps student was berated for being brainwashed, Ayloush was called a bigot and a liar, and an audience member took the speaker to task for referring to Trump’s travel ban as a ban on Muslims.
“It was not a Muslim ban; it was a travel ban!” the attendee said to the speaker. “You’re a bigot and a liar.”
Tempers had not cooled by the end of the program and one audience member accused Ayloush of being deceptive. “You can’t have a dialogue when you’re lying at every step of the argument,” he told the speaker.
Scripps College issued a statement through Scripps Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson after the melee, offering counseling for students impacted for the “anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant” comments, stating they are “in direct conflict with our shared values.”
She added that members of the Scripps community who felt targeted by race, religion, ancestry, age, among other identities, “may contact our Title IX office and make a complaint under Scripps College’s harassment and discrimination policy.”
Scripps College is one of five colleges of the Claremont University Consortium along with Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, and Harvey Mudd College.
Hussam Ayloush is a contentious figure and found himself steeped in bad publicity after tweeting about a 2016 Christmas day plane crash involving a Russia military jet heading into Syria and bemoaning his disappointment that more people didn’t die.
Ayloush’s tweet read: “I’m sad about the crashed Russian military jet. The Tu-154 could have carried up to 180 military personnel instead of just 92!”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations – an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund the terrorist group Hamas – has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.