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Interfaith meeting in Newport draws 230 to discuss fighting 'bigoted acts'

Interfaith meeting in Newport draws 230 to discuss fighting 'bigoted acts'
From left, Susan Seely, associate director of the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine, imam Muzammil Siddiqi and rabbi Marcia Tilchin address an interfaith town hall meeting Sunday night at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach. (Susan Hoffman)

About 230 people gathered Sunday night at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach for an interfaith town hall meeting presented by the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County to, as organizers said, combat hate in the community.

"We held the town hall interfaith meeting to provide a forum for local community members to come together to learn more about what resources are available to them in the event of bigoted acts or incidents of violence," according to Susan Seely, associate director of the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine.

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"Hard-working, patriotic Muslims like me are feeling displaced and under attack because of our faith," Anila Ali, board president of the American Muslim Women's Empowerment Council, said in a KABC-TV/7 report. "I'm a Muslim. I'm an American. I'm a woman and I'm proud of it."

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Although the meeting was held two days after President Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel to the United States for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, it had been planned before the order was signed Friday.

From left, Alison Edwards of Orange County Human Relations, Peter Levi of the Orange County/Long Beach chapter of the Anti-Defamation League; imam Mohammed Zafarullah; and Matthew Coit of the FBI speak at Sunday’s interfaith town hall meeting at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.
From left, Alison Edwards of Orange County Human Relations, Peter Levi of the Orange County/Long Beach chapter of the Anti-Defamation League; imam Mohammed Zafarullah; and Matthew Coit of the FBI speak at Sunday’s interfaith town hall meeting at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach. (Susan Hoffman)

Representatives of UCI, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies and members of various faith and ethnic communities were on hand to answer questions.

Speakers included Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Downing, imam Muzammil Siddiqi, rabbi Marcia Tilchin, imam Mohammed Zafarullah, Special Agent Matthew Coit of the FBI'scivil rights department and Alison Edwards, deputy director of Orange County Human Relations.

People in a crowd estimated at 230 attend an interfaith town hall meeting Sunday night at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.
People in a crowd estimated at 230 attend an interfaith town hall meeting Sunday night at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach. (Susan Hoffman)

The event was organized by Seely; Ali; Lisa Armony, executive director of the Rose Project of the Jewish Federation & Family Services-Orange County; and Peter Levi, regional director of the Orange County/Long Beach chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

The event ended with songs created by Muslim, Jewish and Christian people ages 15-20 from Music in Common.

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