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CAIR-LA Condemns West Hollywood City Council’s Discriminatory Treatment of Professor’s Film

(ANAHEIM, CA – 12/21/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today condemned the discriminatory and hostile treatment of Professor Ahlam Muhtaseb by the City Council of West Hollywood. This includes the City Council’s decision to first cancel and then indefinitely postpone the public screening of the film that Professor Muhtaseb co-directed and produced, 1948: Creation & Catastrophe, which was originally scheduled to be a part of the City of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speakers series.

The City Council decided to cancel the screening after being misinformed by an individual who had not viewed the film, but still made uninformed, biased and stereotypical judgements about the film and Professor Muhtaseb. CAIR-LA was informed that the City Council’s decision to cancel the film was based on misinformation from the racist, Islamophobic website Canary Mission, which uses McCarthyite tactics to slander, defame and intimidate individuals advocating for Palestinian human rights.

Canary Mission has been an organization that is not only racist and Islamophobic, but also an organization that proudly promotes anti-Muslim and anti-Arab conspiracy theories. The fact that the City Council used fake information from this website, offered to it by a biased individual, only helps legitimize Canary Mission’s racist and Islamophobic blacklist, which is filled with false and inflammatory accusations against students and academics as being anti-Semitic and supporting terrorism. Despite never have watched the film, Councilmember Lindsey Horvath’s push to cancel it and on numerous occasions having made the false accusation that Professor Muhtaseb and the film are hateful. To further her bias and misinformed defamatory statements about Professor Muhtaseb and of the film, in an interview with WeHoville Horvath stated that by hosting the film, the City Council is somehow becoming a “refuge for hate” and falsely accused that the film somehow advocated for the elimination of Israel.

“We demand that Councilmember Horvath retract her defamatory statements made to WeHoville about Professor Muhtaseb and the film,” said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Managing Attorney Marwa Rifahie. “We hope that the City Council will reconsider its position, issue a formal apology to Professor Muhtaseb and set a date to reschedule the screening of the film.”

CAIR-LA requests the City Council refrain from any policy or action that would not only restrict the ability of the screening of the film to move forward, but also from any discriminatory acts targeting Professor Muhtaseb or retaliation for advocacy of Palestinian human rights advocates.

“I have never been contacted by any of the councilmembers of the city of West Hollywood, they don’t know me or anything about my scholarship, none of them has seen the film, but they allowed one lone voice, which is that of Councilmember Lindsey Horvath to espouse defamatory accusations against me that are baseless,” Muhtaseb said. “I am also shocked at the lack of any journalistic integrity of the publication called WeHoville, that keeps on repeating Horvath’s baseless and false accusations without ever reaching out to me or getting my side of the story.”

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is toenhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Forrest Lee, 714-776-1847 or flee@cair.com

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