Hundreds Show Up at Central Park in Support of Davis Islamic Center in Wake of Hate Crime

Panoramic view shows huge crowd in Davis

Once again if the perpetrator of an attack on the Davis Islamic Center was hoping to sow fear and division in the community, the community response by an extremely diverse group of people on Friday showed them otherwise.

The event on Friday afternoon, organized by Kate Mellon-Anibaba with support from the Davis Phoenix Coalition, drew hundreds of people, and included a diverse group of speakers including Muslim community and regional leaders, city and county officials, and two rabbis.

Ms. Mellon-Anibaba told the crowd, “I wanted to show marginalized groups that they have strong allies that support them.

“Many have said, this is not our town,” she said.  “The reality is this is not the first time that this has happened.  And unfortunately it may not be the last.”

Kate Mellon-Anibaba speaks to the crowd at the outset of the program

She said it would be more accurate to say that this is not what we want our town to be.  “In this community, diversity is celebrated, black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, immigrants and refugees are welcome, disabilities are respected, water is life, love is love, and Islam is peace.”

Davis Islamic Center’s Imam Ammar Shahin said, “It’s very hard to speak now when you see all of this support from the community.”  He said the love and support “was expected from Davis.”  He said, “This is a very clear message that we have to feel like we’re always together.  If we stand as a group, then most likely all this will stop.”

Imam Ammar Shahin

Hamza El-Nakhal a resident of Davis since 1969, said he has already forgiven the perpetrator.  He said that “if we ever get to catch this woman, we just want to talk to her.  I really have forgiven her in my heart.  After you see all this love, in fact, I’m grateful to her.”

“In my heart I’m completely at peace, I already have forgiven her,” he said.  “I just want to talk to her.   I don’t know what she feels in her heart, definitely she feels something not good.”

Hamza El-Nakhal speaks to the crowd

The Internal Vice President of the Muslim Student Association, Nida Ahmed, said, “I’m not going to lie, these past days have been really difficult.”  She said she and her team had been raising money to build wells for Flint, Michigan, when the next day, “we woke up to the news that our beloved place of worship, our mosque, had been vandalized.  I remember hearing the news and my heart dropping.

“I’m still trying to process everything,” she said.  But the reaction has been amazing she said, with flowers and love.  “It was with a sense of gratitude, because this is the Davis that I love and have seen throughout my years here.

“Being visibly Muslim for the last year has not been easy,” she explained.  “The rhetoric that has been going around in the media about Muslims has been difficult to cope with.”  But the response “gives me so much hope.”  This will get us through it all, “because together we rise,” she said.

Nida Ahmed

“Davis for me as a Muslim woman has been a safe and accepting place,” a professor from San Francisco State who lived in Davis for years stated.  “Sadly even while there is great love here, at the night of one our nation’s largest acts of unity and protest, the Women’s March, someone harmed our community.  They committed an act of hate, targeting the Islamic Center, in other words, the Muslim house of worship.

“There are a couple of things that the perpetrator of this act of hatred did not know,” she said.  “She did not know that Islam is a religion of peace.  Most importantly, they did not know that for Muslims, the entire earth has been made a place for prayer.”

She said, “You can try to destroy our house of worship, but God lives in the hearts of people and no one can tear down our hearts.”

Mayor Robb Davis was overwhelmed with emotion, explaining to the crowd that when he got the news on Sunday, he had “an overwhelming feeling of shame.”  He said, “Shame, it’s probably a word that doesn’t make you feel comfortable.”

He said, “Maybe what I’m talking about is a collective sense of shame.  It wasn’t abstract for me.  It was how can I face my brother Hamza…  It was a sense of collective shame for this community.”

He said that people can respond that this was an act of an individual, a person filled with hate, a person “who has some problems.”  He asked, “Why a sense of collective shame?  A response like that, it’s the act of an individual, that’s a culturally appropriate response.  We believe that – it’s a very American response.  I sometimes wonder, if that response, appropriate culturally as it is, isn’t at the root of the wilderness march at which we find ourselves today.

“Our inability to own our collective brokenness,” he said.  “I fear that if we continue to indicate the scapegoats among us, sending them out into the wilderness for the expiation of our collective sins, that we will only continue to perpetuate the mimetic violence that we would otherwise decry.  We must own together shame.”

Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor said, “This is the biggest crowd from this vantage point.  I have never seen a crowd this big.”  He quipped that “there are five million people.  I can see the Lincoln Memorial from this place.”

He noted the beauty of the mosque and its history in our community.  “This is not something foreign,” he said.  “This is not something strange and faraway.  It’s us.  This is our community.”

“When I see that building, I see the love of hundreds of people and the commitment of hundreds of people to a space where we can all celebrate,” he said.

He described the attack as a “very stepped, deliberate action.”  He said, “They know not what they do.”  He said, “[T]hen the most gross insult they could come up with, in their twisted mind, and I’m not yet at the spiritual place that Hamza is, I’m sorry, the most gross insult that they could come up with, they left bacon, they left bacon.”

Basim Elkarra

Basim Elkarra, the head of the Sacramento chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) said, “Davis and Islamic Center of Davis, you are not alone.”  He said they had a press conference with all sorts of elected and religious leaders across the spectrum to stand up against the wall and the Muslim ban.

“We actually thought that the wall and the Muslim ban would come on the same day, but Donald Trump wanted to terrorize Muslims and Latinos on separate days and he’s keeping us in suspense.”  He said, “It’s not about the Muslim ban, it’s not about the Islamic Center of Davis or our community, this is about a struggle that the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not finish.  Because hate was swept under the rug, today in 2017, we have an historical opportunity to address what happened in the past and fix what happened in the past.”

Hate, he said, has popped “its ugly head” and is “threatening… every community.”  He said, “All of us working together, we have to fight for the soul of this nation.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Photos from the event…

Local Muslims openly pray as community respectfully watches and supports

Rabbi Seth Castleman was one of two Rabbis who spoke in support

Various shots of the signs in the crowd

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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22 thoughts on “Hundreds Show Up at Central Park in Support of Davis Islamic Center in Wake of Hate Crime”

  1. Keith O

    I can’t understand why the female vandal hasn’t been arrested by now.  The videos of the crime are all over the place and the Enterprise posted a picture of her even though it still doesn’t have very good resolution.  There must be a way for the DPD to get a better picture from the video.  In the very least they should be able to tell what the logo on her hat and shirt say.

    Until we catch her we won’t know her true motives.

      1. Keith O

        You never really get a full face shot but still they should be able to get a better pic.  At the very least they should be able to show the logos.

        Is the FBI involved?

  2. Tia Will

    Regardless of whether or not the perpetrator is ever caught, I am extremely proud of our community for its willingness to support the Islamic Center. The acknowledgment that in Davis, there are hundreds of us who will not remain silent while any group is being targeted for malicious threats and acts is a point of light in a very dark time. I thank the organizers, our mayor, all speakers, and all participants for their willingness to stand together as one people when there are obviously some who would divide us.

  3. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

     

    “We actually thought that the wall and the Muslim ban would come on the same day, but Donald Trump wanted to terrorize Muslims and Latinos on separate days and he’s keeping us in suspense.”  He said, “It’s not about the Muslim ban, it’s not about the Islamic Center of Davis or our community, this is about a struggle that the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not finish.  Because hate was swept under the rug, today in 2017, we have an historical opportunity to address what happened in the past and fix what happened in the past.”

    The  above statement clearly shows that  that this “So comrades, come rally” was not about  the Islamic Center  in Davis and individual who  vandalized  the center but is was well organized and instigated manifestations  against the new President Donald Trump by the  local left wing  politicians and communists from the  AFL-CIO. Looks like any occasion is good occasion   to deligitimize the  new President of the United States of  America . Even pieces of bacon i placed by provocateur  in the  Islamic Center on the  doorknobs is good reason to mock the President Trump. Unbelievable.  

    Mr. Hamza already forgave the perpetrator  with words .

    Hamza El-Nakhal a resident of Davis since 1969, said he has already forgiven the perpetrator.  He said that “if we ever get to catch this woman, we just want to talk to her.  I really have forgiven her in my heart.  After you see all this love, in fact, I’m grateful to her.”
    “In my heart I’m completely at peace, I already have forgiven her,” he said.  “I just want to talk to her.   I don’t know what she feels in her heart, definitely she feels something not good.”

    He maybe knows  who was the perpetrator and  provocateur . This is stinks .

    1. David Greenwald

      “The  above statement clearly shows that  that this “So comrades, come rally” was not about  the Islamic Center  in Davis and individual who  vandalized  the center but is was well organized and instigated manifestations  against the new”

      Really because the last speaker in the event said it disproves all of the other speakers who focused entirely on the incident.

        1. David Greenwald

          Were you there? I was. I have an audio of all the comments. 95% of them focused on the local situation and event. You’re taking one comment out of context.

  4. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

     
    David
     
    This was nothing else but  strictly the  political anti-Trump manifestation organized by his opponents. A Few pieces of bacon on doorknobs and the  thousands protesting  people and organizations including AFL -CIO  Labor Council from Sacramento was not about the Mr. Hamza’s   love , compassion and forgiveness for the”  vandal and provocateur who broke the windows and placed pieces of bacon on doorknobs .   If you telling me that I am taking comment out of context than what the: ” but Donald Trump wanted to terrorize Muslims and Latinos”   statement has to do with broken windows and pieces of bacon on doorknobs . This is a police matter not the AFL-CIO Labor Council and the politicians from City of Davis matter  . Don’t try to fool me . This is the April 1st today I did not live my all life in Lodi, California . I lived in four different states and  long time ago I was in charge of  the  underground  anticommunist newspaper in the communist country when you was very young . David ,  I am not Tia . Wrong address.

  5. Tia Will

    This last set of comments in entirely in line with Jerry’s typical line of reasoning. If one speaker whether in Davis, or in Sacramento or on the national mall says something with which he does not agree, then all must be reduced to that speaker’s comments and disregarded.

    I was personally at the 20,000 member march in Sacramento. The following are some representative signs and banners representing a number of differing groups, values and goals.

    1. All are welcome here

    2. A banner with the symbols of all the major world religions

    3. Protect Planned Parenthood

    4. Health care for all

    5. Defend Medicaid and Social Security

    6. Refugees are welcome here

    7. Black Lives Matter/ All Lives Matter

    8. Our bodies / our choice

    9. Defend gay rights

    10. Multiple peace signs

    11. Women’t right’s are human rights and human rights are women’s rights

    12. Protect our environment

    13. And one of my favorites: “Be Kind, Be Brave, Be Vigilant, Be Strong

    So tell me Jerry, with such a variety of messages which exactly do you believe are hate filled, which should be respected and which should be ignored ?  Which should define the entire group including all of the individuals who showed up because they do not feel represented by the individual in the White House who claims to be the president for “all the people”. So should we as individuals simply heed the advice that the current president’s advisor Steve Bannon gave to the press and “just shut up” or do we have the rights as citizens of a supposedly free society to express our wishes and promote our goals in a peaceful manner ?

  6. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    David

    I don’t see any picture from the Davis or UC Davis  LGBT’s  community manifesting their support for the Muslim community in Davis . No rainbow flags no signs. Interesting . Is it anything to do with Milo who advertising himself as  “Dangerous Fagott”  Any  idea or your camera did not catch any support from LGBT community .

    1. Matt Williams

      Jerry, your comment has an “It’s all about me!!!” framing.  My personal perspective on yesterday’s activities, and the follow-up activities today at the Farmer’s Market is that the singularity that is at the core of your assessment is a reflection of your personal bias, not a reflection of the community.

      JMO

      1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

        Matt

        When  I see and read the  DA charges against  the  “ The  bacon on the doorknobs” lady than we will talk about my personal bias . For now, the gathering in the Davis Central Park  had nothing to  with the  “Support of Davis Islamic Center in Wake of Hate “

        1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

          David

          Please don’t give speech  about your  community in Davis and don’t try to make of this  the ” Kristallnacht”   beacuse  it is not a Kristallnacht .  Advise leaders of the Islamic Center to have security guard  and and  to wait for police to catch the  vandal or provocateur instead of bringing labor union to demonstrate  against  President Trump. What a a  show in Davis after the  clown and provocateur Milo’s tour around  the UC Davis campus  with the  College Republican club members help.

           

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          It’s pretty clear Jerry that you don’t live in this community, and you don’t know the people in this community, so I’m not sure why you are bothering to post “I don’t see any picture from the Davis or UC Davis  LGBT’s  community manifesting their support for the Muslim community in Davis” and then get offended when I point out that the two most prominent members of the community are in the front row next to former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      You didn’t see the poster children for the Davis LGBT Community standing front and center in the panoramic photo? I’m sorry, but you really don’t know this community well enough to make that critique.

      1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

        you didn’t see the poster children for the Davis LGBT Community

        David 

        You like to use children  for  your cause . It is a quite often display for your compassionate sermons . I don’t like it  because I  recall photos and videos of children and women as human shields in Muslim’s wars thorn countries .  Dev’s case is also an example .

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