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In May 2011, there were again protests in Orange County. In Anaheim, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi was receiving an award from the Orange County Human Relations Commission for the interfaith work he has done in Orange County. Protesters were accusing him of being connected with terrorism and wanting to implement Sharia Law in the US…..Sigh. Really? Again, Orange County?

By now, most of the Muslim community in the United States has seen the disgusting video of the protests in Orange County:

People give me the pity look when I tell them, “Yes, I’m from that place,” “No, not everyone is like that,” “Yes, I know the city where it occurred.” I used to get annoyed about the questions about The O.C. and The Real Housewives of Orange County  (I’ll admit I watch this religiously) but now I almost welcome them. So as a proud, lifetime resident of Orange County, here’s what I have to say:

Yes, I was disgusted and outraged by what happened. As a Muslim, I felt attacked and as an OC resident, I was ashamed. However, after the protests occurred, many OC residents united and went to protests, joined coalitions, and wrote letters to denounce the actions and words of the people at the protests. I went to a Yorba Linda City Council meeting where not only did Muslims speak but also other community members, including the Japanese American Citizens’ League, who voiced concern over the similarity between the discrimination their community suffered during and after WWII and the discrimination that the Muslim community is currently enduring. The Interfaith Witnesses of Orange County along with the Orange County Human Relations Commission stood by Dr. Siddiqi through these recent allegations.

As for me, I’m proud of where I’m from and I still love OC. However, I’m NOT saying that there still isn’t some discomfort around Muslims in OC, there is. How is it that when I walked towards a mosque and passed by a group of people outside their house, I was able to smile and say, “Hola, como estan?” and get a smile and similar response, but when I walked back wearing the hijab I had on for Jummah, I couldn’t even get one of the group to look at me in the eye? This is an issue still needs to be addressed, not only in OC, but in all of the US.

So in conclusion, I hope others do not let things like these past protests muddle their views of Orange County. A few extremists cannot stand as a representation of a whole community. Sound familiar?

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