CAIRO – A US Muslim advocacy group has called for the resignation of an El Monte, California, official who posted an Islamophobic comment, urging world countries to ban Islam on social media as discriminatory and un-American.
“While [Art] Barrios has the right to his bigoted views, it is unacceptable for a person who holds such views to be in a position of public trust and authority,” Haroon Manjlai, the Public Affairs Coordinator of Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“Discrimination against building of mosques is widespread and well documented, and therefore it is unacceptable that a planning commissioner of any city, who ought to be fair and neutral, would hold such hateful views.
“We urge Barrios to resign his post on the planning commission, or failing that, for the city council to vote to remove him at their next meeting,” Manjlai added.
Controversy started when Barrios, a former El Monte city councilman, shared a news article on Facebook with the headline “China makes major moves to ban Islam.”
The article, posted on the website Louder with Crowder, details anti-Islam steps the Chinese government has taken recently, including banning hijab for Muslim women and imprisoning men who grow beards.
Sharing the article, he added a comment saying: “Sounds good maybe the rest of the world should do the same.”
Facing outrage from the Muslim community, Barrios claimed that his Facebook post was in reference to Islamic extremists “that are going out and killing other people.”
“I thought it was about time that we stop kowtowing to the Islam that’s doing the racist things and doing the things that are bad for any religion,” Barrios said about the post.
“I’m an American citizen. I have the right to think anything I want to think … I have the right to do what I want to do. [CAIR] has the right to do what they want to do.”
CAIR rejected Barrios argument, calling for his apology and resignation.
In a Los Angeles Times report Manjlai was stated, “Neither the article nor Barrios’ comment on the article give any indication that he was talking about Muslim extremists.
“It sounded like he was talking about the religion as a whole and that is extremely insensitive and un-American.”
Manjlai said CAIR was reaching out to Muslims who live in the area to see how they would like to proceed.
The group also urged available individuals to attend El Monte’s next city council meeting to express their views on the matter.
“It is extremely alarming when somebody in such a position expresses their bigoted views against any minority,” Manjlai said.
“Next time there is a matter involving the Muslim community in the city of El Monte it’ll be very hard for Muslims to believe that any decision rendered against them was not driven by this bias that Barrios clearly holds.”
Though Barrios said he has no plans to resign, he edited his post to specify that he was not referring to “Islam the religion.”
“I am sorry if I have offended anyone, particularly those who practice Islam,” Barrios wrote in the edited post.
“As an American, I welcome all and encourage open discussion and I do not wish to belittle the freedom that we have. Lastly, I wrote hastily and my point was far off from my intended thought and I’d like to apologize for it.”