Event spurs anger at RCC

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By Benjamin Kwiecien

Hussam Ayloush defends the Islamic religion during a confrontation after his speech. (Chris Ullyott)

By Benjamin Kwiecien

On April 27, controversy shook the RCC campus: A pedantic christian group calling themselves “Truth Defenders” came to RCC and organized a “free speech” rally to publicly denounce Islam.

In prior weeks, the event was advertised as “Islamic Bewareness Week” on fliers passed out by volunteers. The fliers advertised the event as being an “open-mic discussion,” and promised to cover such topics as “women’s rights” and “child abuse.”

While some considered the flier to be innocent, it was obvious to many that there was hostile intent, especially to Muslim students who were shocked by its blatantly negative portrayal of their cherished faith.

Even before the event took place, tensions were already heightened, and it was doomed to be a failure.

Of course, that depends on your definition of success.

The purpose of the event was not the open and honest discussion of religion and women’s rights that it purported to be, but was rather a thinly veiled attempt to spread negative information about Islam so as to cultivate and sharpen anti-Islamic sentimentality.

For groups like “Truth Defenders,” a blow against Islam is a victory for Christianity.

During the event, the speakers did their best to appear composed and scholarly, and between occasional bouts of gospel singing, a recital of “God Bless America,” and chanting “remember 9/11!,” they were successful.

Before long, attending Muslim students were incited to anger and shouting.

The open microphone session promised on the flier did not take place. There was only a short question and answer period that lasted a few minutes, and that was dominated by planted volunteers with pre-signed release forms; protesting speakers were either barred from speaking or interrupted before making their point. In one instance, the microphone was turned off to prevent someone from speaking.

As a result, the protesters were not only made to appear irate but also foolish for not being able to defend their views, which the speaker taunted them for.

For the “truth defenders,” it was “mission accomplished.” For everyone else, the gathering was fruitless and produced more heat than light.

In the United States of America, freedom of speech is a highly valued liberty. It attempts to ensure that people can express themselves, and that an open forum for ideas and communication can be maintained. However, freedom of speech is not very beneficial to society when it is used to engage in deliberately inflammatory activities.

The work of these “Truth Defenders” can be described as no less than hate-mongering, since those wishing to foster earnest religious discussion and debate would have done so more responsibly.

View more photos of these rallies here

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For a news story on these rallies click here

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