Freelance journalist Ahnaf Kalam, a frequent contributor to Focus on Western Islamism (FWI), was roughly escorted out of a mosque in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday. He was removed from the mosque after asking California imam Uthman Ibn Farooq to provide the name of the person he said was serving time in jail for attacking him in San Diego in March.
Instead of responding directly to questions about the attack — which have dogged the imam for months — Ibn Farooq called Kalam a liar and led the audience in a chant of "Allahu Akbar!" before Kalam was led out of the building by Karim Abu Zaid, imam of the Colorado Muslims Community Center (CMCC) in Aurora where the confrontation took place.
"You see these Islamophobes? They come lying themselves and they accuse us," Ibn Farooq shouted in response to Kalam's queries. The confrontation took place at the end of a sparsely attended annual Authentic Ilm Mission conference featuring Daniel Haqiqatjou.
In his queries to Ibn Farooq, Kalam was following up on two articles he wrote for FWI about an alleged stabbing against the imam that reportedly took place in San Diego in March. The stabbing, which Ibn Farooq portrayed as an "Islamophobic" hate crime was publicized in Muslim news outlets throughout the world and prompted an alarmist press release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In his reporting, Kalam discovered that neither the San Diego Police Department nor the local district attorney's office had any information about the attack months after it allegedly took place. A recent query to the California Attorney General has yielded similar results, indicating that if the attack did in fact take place, Ibn Farooq never reported it to the police.
FWI's coverage of the event prompted Ibn Farooq to declare that not only was he attacked, but that his alleged attacker had pleaded guilty and was currently serving time in jail for his crimes. The imam refused to provide any details about the attacker or the court proceedings that allegedly resulted in the unknown attacker's incarceration.
After Kalam's departure, a clearly-rattled Ibn Farooq went on an extended rant during which he declared that the details surrounding the attack, which he publicized in a YouTube video, were "his personal business."
"I have my court documents," he said. "I don't need to show them to anybody. We're going to show the documents when I want. I'm not obliged to help anybody here — for them to promote their Islamophobic ideas. These are the same people on the same websites that claim that school shootings have actors in them."
"I don't think I've ever written the words 'school shootings,' in a story in my life," Kalam said afterwards.
Dexter Van Zile is managing editor of the Middle East Forum publication Focus on Western Islamism.