Group protests Muslim event, attendees blame prejudice
Ricky Maranon, The Oklahoma Daily
A small group protested a Muslim event Saturday on campus, claiming the event was sponsored by an organization with ties to terrorists.
Members of Oklahomans Against CAIR Hate gathered outside the Oklahoma Memorial Union, stating the Oklahoma chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), sponsors of a screening of a Muslim cultural film that night, has associations with terrorist organizations.
“We are not here to hate anyone,” said Cindy Crenshaw, president of Oklahomans Against CAIR Hate. “We just want to point out that CAIR has been linked to terrorist organizations that have carried out terroist acts.”
Crenshaw said she understood how the intentions of her group could be viewed as anti-Islamic, but said she hoped people would see the group as only coming to protest CAIR, and not anything against Islam and Muslims.
“I love everyone,” Crenshaw said. “We hope that our protest will expose the truth about hateful terrorist actions that this group has been linked to.”
Among the protestors was Oklahoma 5th district Congressional candidate Kevin Calvey, who helped organize the protest.
“We are not here to hate Muslims,” Calvey said. “CAIR is what we want to focus on tonight. We have court convictions of CAIR members across the country in relation to terrorist acts, and yet, they are here tonight saying they are a group that promotes civil rights.”
Calvey said the actions of CAIR show it is not the civil rights group it claims to be.
He cited the recent conviction of Ghassan Elashi, Dallas CAIR founder, who was sentenced to 65 years in prison for raising money for the Palestinian extremist group Hamas. Elashi had told people he was raising money for an organization known as The Holy Land Foundation.
But those attending the event said they felt prejudice and stereotyping was the cause of the group coming to campus.
“We are the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR,” said Razi Hashmi, executive director of Oklahoma CAIR. “Our chapter has done nothing to promote terrorism, and it is unforturnate that we would be linked to other groups when all we’ve done is attempt to promote, uplift and support Muslims.”
Hashmi said the event was intented to be an interfaith event with people of many beliefs and religions trying to gain a better understanding of what it is like to be Muslim in America.
“We hope that our event being protested tonight will show people that it is still difficult to be a Muslim in this country because of stereotypes,” Hashmi said.
Those attending the event said they hoped the protestors would help people experience what it is like to be Muslim in the U.S.
“I came here tonight to learn more about a community that I don’t know much about,” said Brittany Novotny, Oklahoma House District 84 candidate. “I did not really see the protestors outside because I came in through a back door, but I do think it is unfortunate that an event this important to our state and even our county would bring out people who show a prejudice.”
Novotny said by learning about the hardships of Muslims, non-Muslims can gain a better understanding of the community.
“Am I a little upset? Yes,” said attendee Areebah Anwar. “But I hope this will cause people to see things from our perspective when it comes to stereotypes and other difficult things Muslims deal with.
“By having protestors here tonight, they can see first hand how hard it can be for us.”