Interfaith, Civic Leaders Condemn Irvine Councilman Choi’s Remarks at MeetingÂ
Affirm Solidarity withÂ Southern California MuslimsÂ
(IRVINE, CA, 10/15/08) – AtÂ Tuesday’s Irvine City Council meeting, local interfaith and community leadersÂ condemned Council member Stephen Choi’s offensive remarksÂ aimed at candidate Todd Gallinger. The leaders also expressed strong support for members of the Muslim community and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), articulated in a joint letter that wasÂ read at the council meeting.
The letter stated, in part:
“Such offensive language serves to defame an upstanding American civil rights organization, suggests that there is an inherent problem with being Islamic, and incites fear and mistrust of members of the Muslim faith. It is immoral and un-American for any political candidate to score cheap political points by playing into the bigoted anti-Muslim paranoia in our country. …
“Any person running for public office should remember our country’s founding principles of religious pluralism, tolerance and diversity that make America a free and open society.”
The letter was signed by key Asian and Hispanic advocacy groups and interfaith organizations.
News accounts said Gallinger reported receiving a phoned death threat after being “smeared” by Choi’s Islamophobic remarks, in which he allegedly attacked Gallinger’s Muslim faith after an Irvine Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on September 19.
On Tuesday, supporters spoke out against Choi at the Council meeting. Among them was Federico C. Sayre, past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County, who hasÂ represented CAIR as an attorney. In a letter to Choi, Sayre said:
“I believe it is terribly inappropriate for a person such as Mr. Choi who in part symbolizes the great diversity of Irvine to bring such a discriminatory and anti-religious charge against a young man like Todd (Gallinger) and against a wonderful organization like the Council of American Islamic Relations …
“It has been my observation and knowledge from being around this excellent organization that they are dedicated to the protection of the civil rights of Muslims and all Americans and that none of their tenants in any way suggest any kind of adherence to terrorists or terrorist ideals.”