LA Residents Unite With Islamic Center Against Hate

CALIFORNIA – In a show of solidarity, members of Los Angeles religious, political and police communities paid a special visit to the Islamic Center of Southern California on Friday, attending the weekly prayer service to show unity against recent terrorist threats.

“God is telling us that you cannot repel hate with hate,” Hassan Zeenni, chair of the Islamic Center’s religious committee, said as he addressed the threat against the community, Los Angeles Daily News reported on Saturday, October 29.

“Evil cannot be repelled with evil. People of God should repel evil with goodness.”

The gathering came three days after Los Angeles police announced an Agoura Hills man is facing charges for allegedly making criminal threats against a member of the center.

According to police, Mark Feigin, 40, called the Islamic center twice last month, at one point threatening to kill its members because of his “hatred for Muslims and his belief that Muslims will destroy the United States.”

The first call to the Islamic Center came Sept. 19, when a man left a voicemail that was “peppered with vulgarity and espoused hatred toward the Muslim faith,” Frank said.

LA Residents Unite With Islamic Center Against Hate - About Islam

Women gather in a separate room from men at the Islamic Center of Southern California during a weekly prayer service. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The next day, Frank said a man called again, threatening to kill the person who answered the phone along with other members of the center.

Arresting him in a traffic stop, police searched his Agoura Hills home and found several guns — rifles, shotguns, handguns — and thousands of rounds of ammunition, the commander said.

Feigin was charged with committing a hate crime and a misdemeanor count of making annoying telephone calls.

“I think they are doing their best,” Hamoud Salhi, an associate dean in the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences for Cal State Dominguez Hills, said of the center’s efforts to reassure its members.

“We are citizens of the country and we understand that there are people who do not like us and have personal agendas. But like any other group we feel like it’s our responsibility to rise above it and work for the good of all Americans.”

Nouria Lahlou, 46, of Los Angeles said everyone can come together despite their politics or different beliefs because everyone is human.

“There’s no difference between us,” said Lahlou, a six-month member of the center.


LA Residents Unite With Islamic Center Against Hate - About Islam

Men participate in prayer at the Islamic Center of Southern California’s weekly prayer service. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Friday service at the center was attended by about 700 people of all faiths.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who said his office prosecutes hate crimes but is not handling the Agoura Hills incident, also attended the service.

“I mentioned earlier that I’m Jewish,” Feuer said.

“Most people in this congregation at this moment are Muslim. But we all worship the same God and we all want to live in a community where no one can threaten anyone especially because of how they worship, how they believe, what they look like.”

Feuer added that his office supports people of all faiths.

“The city attorney’s office is one place that will always be standing with you. To protect not only the Muslim American community but everybody here in the city,” he said.

LAPD Cmdr. Horace Frank also paid a special visit to the Islamic center on Friday.

“We recognize everyone has the right to free speech, but with that right comes enormous responsibility,” Frank told reporters.

“When someone starts talking about ‘I’ll kill you,’ it becomes a concern to us.”