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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Update on Golden West Incident

As I have previously written, a group of us attended an event at Golden West College in Orange County, California on March. The event was entitled, "Islam 101" and the speaker was Nicole Bovey of the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim. As previously described, several of us asked questions of the speaker (in full accordance with the protocols) which caused the faculty sponsors of the event to call in the campus police.

Subsequently, I (and others) wrote letters (via email) to the administration of the college, including the chancellor of the college district, the president of Golden West College and the board of trustees. This is the letter that I wrote.

This is the email letter I received from the Golden West Public Affairs office in response. No name was attached to the email. Here is the text in full:

"We have received your comments and appreciate your voiced concerns. As you know, Golden West College recently opened a scheduled class to the public which included a presentation and opportunity to engage in questions and answers. The event was intended to be an introductory educational overview of Islam as part of an intercultural program for students in the class. We understand that the presenters and audience members have varying views about the effectiveness of the event. We are regretful that when campus security was called to help ensure the safety of the environment, that anyone may have felt uncomfortable, singled out, or discouraged from expressing their opinions.  

We work hard to ensure that faculty and staff on campus treat others with dignity and engage in respectful interaction with others. We fully support free speech and the right to express diverse thoughts. We are apologetic that the event did not serve the intended purposes for all. We remain committed to the inclusive values and mission of Golden West College. Thank you."
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"We fully support free speech and the right to express diverse thoughts."

By calling in campus police when questioners asked pointed questions that the speaker was unable or unwilling to address.  Some of the questions asked were about the part of Sura One of the Koran, which Muslims recite several times a day in their prayers, verses that refer to "those who have incurred Your wrath and those who have lost their way" (verses 6-7), whether Zakat (Islamic charitable giving) allows for donations to benefit non-Muslims, the fact that modern archaeological studies have failed to confirm that Mecca even existed during the time of Mohammad, and the fact that Sharia law mandates death for those who leave Islam (and publicly criticize Islam), adulterers and homosexuals. Not only were campus police called in during the break (actually a prayer break for the speaker), but one of the professors rushed up to the stage and concluded the event one hour before its announced time while people were still asking questions. The speaker was, in effect, "rescued".

This is not what a college or university is supposed to be about. This event was not about education. It was an exercise in indoctrination. Efforts were made to silence the questioners who were asking challenging questions rather than soft balls. There was also an attempt by the speaker for me to turn off my video camera, which I refused to do citing the law.

In reply to the above email from Golden West, I have sent this response to the concerned people in the administration. At this point, it has been co-signed by 21 individuals from the community, some of whom were present on March 14. I am deleting their names from this copy for privacy reasons.
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Dear Dr Bryan et al.

As you will recall, I wrote a letter to you a few days ago complaining about the treatment several audience members were given when they dared to ask uncomfortable questions of a speaker at a public event on March 14. This is the response I received from some unnamed person in your public information office:

"We have received your comments and appreciate your voiced concerns. As you know, Golden West College recently opened a scheduled class to the public which included a presentation and opportunity to engage in questions and answers. The event was intended to be an introductory educational overview of Islam as part of an intercultural program for students in the class. We understand that the presenters and audience members have varying views about the effectiveness of the event. We are regretful that when campus security was called to help ensure the safety of the environment, that anyone may have felt uncomfortable, singled out, or discouraged from expressing their opinions.  


We work hard to ensure that faculty and staff on campus treat others with dignity and engage in respectful interaction with others. We fully support free speech and the right to express diverse thoughts. We are apologetic that the event did not serve the intended purposes for all. We remain committed to the inclusive values and mission of Golden West College. Thank you."
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"We fully support free speech and the right to express diverse thoughts."

By calling in the campus police and telling us our questions were out of line?  

The above letter is an insult considering what your faculty members did to those concerned. I suggest you interview the concerned police officers and ask them what they were told about the situation when they were summoned. When campus police are summoned to quell polite questions being asked in accordance with the protocol of the event, this is scary stuff indeed in what is supposed to be a country dedicated to freedom of speech and especially for an institution of higher learning supposedly dedicated to the principles mentioned in your response.

If you are indeed committed to the right to express divergent thoughts, I could suggest that you invite a speaker with a different point of view on this topic. I know of many who are responsible and speak with expertise on the topic, but without hatred. There are people like Robert Spencer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, John Zacarias, and Nonie Darwish. Except for Spencer and Ali, these experts are locally based, and the last four are apostates from Islam.

You may not be aware of this, but this incident has received widespread attention across the nation. The reputation of Golden West College has suffered a serious blow. In light of the flippant response we have received, it seems you have closed the page, but we have not. We are looking into other legal avenues to address this ugly incident.

Sincerely,

Gary Fouse

Note: The below persons have added their names to this letter.
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