PALMDALE — An educational forum for 25th Congressional District seat candidates sponsored by the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley and Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter, ended prematurely Saturday night after a group of pro-Trump, anti-Muslim agitators disrupted it.
Only four candidates, Democrats Anibal Valdéz-Ortega, Cenk Uygur, Getro Elize and David Rudnick, attended the forum, held in the in the cafeteria of the former Guidance Charter School.
“They wouldn’t let anybody speak,” Kamal Al-Khatib, president of American Islamic Institute of AV, said.
He estimated the group numbered between seven to 10 people.
Some members of the group held Trump 2020 signs or wore Trump T-shirts.
One woman could be heard shouting in a video of the event, “You are not an American,” as Al-Khatib tried to calm the crowd.
“They came in to disrupt the event,” Al-Khatib said.
He was concerned for the safety of the people who were there.
“I didn’t want people to start fighting and then people get hurt,” Al-Khatib said.
The agitators called Muslims un-American and tried to remove a woman’s hijab, he said.
“We were not talking about any religion,” Al-Khatib said. “They didn’t want the event to be located in a mosque, I guess. But we have the right to do that.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies responded after the group refused to be quiet.
“They told me you cannot take these people unless you shut down the party,” Al-Khatib said. “I wanted to stop it instead of continue to fight this hate because these guys will not reason with you.”