County Supervisor Simitian to Host Forums on Islam Featuring Authors, Activists, Faith Leaders

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is teaming up with the Commonwealth Club for a free speaker series in hopes of creating a better understanding of Islam.

Simitian will co-host and moderate the “Understanding Islam” panel discussion with experts and activists from the Islamic community.

“Not only will it lead to greater understanding of the various interpretations of Islam, but it will create a beneficial dialogue between those of the Muslim faith and others in our community,” Commonwealth Club President Dr. Gloria Duffy said.

The speaker series comes as Islamic communities battle an uptick in hate crimes and federal policies hostile to immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Zahra Billoo, head of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the speaker series could not have come at a better time.

Silicon Valley residents are encouraged to attend the event to hear from Muslim leaders in their shared community. Organizers hope the forum will be beneficial not only to those in the Muslim faith, but to everyone else by encouraging an open, candid dialogue.

“We’re lucky to live in one of the most diverse places in the country,” Simitian said. “But without understanding the diverse cultures around us, misconceptions abound.”

Below is a list of dates and locations for each part of the speaker series.

What does it mean to be Muslim? The basics.
7pm April 3, Lucie Stern Community Center Theatre, Palo Alto
In the first part of the series, speakers will tackle misconceptions of Islam in modern America and abroad. The panel will feature The Muslim Next Door author Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Islamic Networks Group Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi, Bayan Claremont Islamic Networks Group President Jihad Turk and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian as the moderator. Though the program is sold out, a waiting list is posted on the Commonwealth Club website.

Fear of a Faith: Sharia, Surveillance, Terrorism, The Muslim Ban. What’s real, and what’s not?
7pm May 9, Rinconada Library, Palo Alto
Policies, politics and current events will be the focal point of the second part of the series as speakers shed light on facts and fiction. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will moderate a discussion led by panelists Ameena Jandali, founding member of the Islamic Networks Group, and Jihad Turk, president of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School.

Women and Islam
7pm May 22, Rinconada Library, Palo Alto
Previous panelists return for the last forum of the series to discuss what it mean to be a Muslim woman and how Islam intersects with gender today. The Muslim Next Door author Sumbul Ali-Karamali and Islamic Networks Group Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi join moderator Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, along with additional panelists who are yet to be determined.


  1. Perhaps they could have a forum on the joy of being a Gay Muslim in the Middle East………………

    • These people are not Muslims in the Middle East, they are American Muslims in the Bay Area. If they’ve ever said anything homophobic, feel free to confront them. Otherwise, refrain from voicing ignorant opinions.

      • Sorry Max,
        I should have said the joy of being a gay Muslim in an Orlando nightclub, as there are no living gay Muslims in the Middle East, and I have confronted anti gay, anti christian, muslims living here in the Middle Bay area.

        I was also warned that if he was a good muslim his duty would would be convert me or kill me.
        I smiled and offered him my pocket knife which he declined saying he did not want to become a martyr that day.
        I never turned my back on the man as long as I worked with him.

        Oh yes some of them are very nice people. Some of them are not!

        • > Oh yes some of them are very nice people. Some of them are not!

          On that point we agree, some Muslims are absolutely terrible people with horrific beliefs. Many are not. The vast majority of those that chose to come to our country are not. The people mentioned in the article clearly are not.

          I don’t see you using Dylan Roof as a way to describe all Southern Christians, so I don’t see why you don’t extend the same basic courtesy to our Muslim neighbors. If they express hateful or violent beliefs, condemn them. Until then, assume they are good people trying to live their lives.

          • If Dylan Roof and Southern Christians were killing tens of thousands of people around the world and thousand here in the US in the name the KKK I would certainly condemn them for that, but they are not Max.
            Pitbulls are really nice dogs till one tears your face off and eats one of your children.

            Yes I was hurt by that Muslim man, I had mistakenly assumed he was my friend till he explained Muslim Philosophy to me. Infidel!

          • MAX:

            > If they express hateful or violent beliefs, condemn them.

            Q1: Does Sharia Law “express hateful or violent beliefs”?

            Q2. Is a Muslim who rejects Sharia Law still a Muslim?

            Q3. Do you condemn people who embrace Sharia Law?

          • Empty Gun:

            I assume you care about the US. Clearly in Muslim-majority countries, Muslim people tend to kill other Muslim people, sometimes for ideological reasons.

            SJ Outside the Bubble:

            1. Depends on your definition of “Sharia Law”. The Koran clearly has violent and anti-liberal (small L) parts that are deplorable. But so does the Bible, of course.

            2. I think someone that calls themselves Muslim honestly is a Muslim. Doesn’t matter if they are moderate (having rejected/reinterpreted some parts of the Koran), extremist/radicalized (having added crazier stuff to the Koran) or somewhere in between. Again, same thing applies to Christians or Jews.

            3. I condemn those who embrace violence or discrimination again women or homosexuals. The latter probably encompasses a lot of Muslims in the Middle East and a lot fewer here in the US. Again, same thing for Christians and Jews (a lot of homophobes and sexists–some violent–in Latin America/Africa/parts of Israel, a lot fewer among American Christians and Jews).

          • Mad MAX,
            Figures don’t lie but liars do figure! Clearly you are a shill for CAIR or something, to throw me an artical from the NYT
            better Known as the New York Slimes. Oh the shame of it all.

            Patching together the numbers 60%+ of the population in the US is white, 1% of the population is Muslim of some sort,
            but the number of victims of terrorist acts not including 911 of course, is about the same. That would mean the per capita rate of terrorism by Muslims in the US is about 60 times that of White Supremacist/groups. If we add 911 well the number just get really critical.
            Just so we understand each other I would be glad to see Dylan Roof crucified for what he did as well as the 911 hijacker team.

    • FGM has nothing to do with Islam (as indicated by the fact that many Muslim-majority countries have none and many majority Christian/animist countries have it).

  2. Looks like Islamic proselytizing. Walks like Islamic proselytizing. It’s Islamic proselytizing.

  3. This sickening, unending “outreach” nonsense unceasingly goes in the wrong direction. If Muslims want to live in the U.S. then let them follow U.S. laws and cultural conventions and stop trying to bend U.S. society to fit their world view, as if somehow this “Muslim way” is in any way superior. If they want to live in America, then be an American. Nothing is stopping them from keeping their own little particular cultural identity but is it asking so much that they keep it to themselves and stop trying to shove it down my throat!?

    An uptick in hate crimes against Muslims? When was the last time a Christian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded area or killed a bunch of innocent people in San Bernardino or deliberately ran over a bunch of people on a bridge in London!?! How many American or Christian IED’s have blown up Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    There are only two types of Muslims; radical jihadists who seek to violently impose sharia on the world; and their enablers who fail to report them when they detect them. If people are serious about “outreach” to Muslims, then let them go to Iraq or Afghanistan and reach out to them the way Chris Kyle did.

  4. Everyone talks about “Oh noes the Sharia Laws!” and “The suicide bombers!” but where is the connection between our own Christian values and spearheading a campaign to turn “Radical Muslims” the right way?

    It starts with changing the very meaning of “Radical Muslim!” I give you, a Radical Muslim.

    Instead of tanks, soldiers, and drones, we need to airdrop BMX bikes, skateboards, and DVD’s of MTV’s “Jackass” down to the population below. Drop massive amounts of pornography too, as this will de-sensitize them to the naked form of both the male and female bodies in coitus.

    I don’t see Sharia law as ever being a threat here in the states. Any Muslim kid is going to have exposure to everything I described above, with the added bonus of a 1Gbps internet connection straight into their room, and a circle of friends that probably won’t believe in Sharia law. This country has a way of rubbing off generations down the line.

    • Wow Robert,
      Did you miss that part about the Taliban executing children for flying a kite, singing songs or sending girls to school, but it might crush the population boom in Central America if you send them flat screens and late night TV.

    • Statistically the second generation is actually the most likely to be “radicalized”. I think it has to do—in large parts—with the unbridled hate exemplified by some of these comments, where people hate on Muslims whatever their actual opinions may be.

      • > I think it has to do—in large parts—with the unbridled hate exemplified by some of these comments, where people hate on Muslims whatever their actual opinions may be.

        Or not.

        Try thinking up another explanation for Islamic radicalism that DOESN’T blame the victims of radical Islamic supremacism.

        • >>Try thinking up another explanation for Islamic radicalism that DOESN’T blame the victims of radical Islamic supremacism.

          I guess I’m breaking your rule here, but what about identity politics? Creating the whole “Us vs them” mentality. Sadly those that try and cram identity politics down our throats are the very same ones that are victims of radical Islam.

          • > … but what about identity politics?


            “identity politics” = tribalism

            “Us vs them” = “My tribe good, other tribe bad”

            “identity politics” is NOT a new phenomenon. It’s not “modern”. It’s very primitive.

          • You didn’t ask for anything NEW. You just asked for readers to think up a reason. I concur, tribalism is very very old.

        • I’m sure I’ve met more Muslims, both in the US and in Muslims countries, than you ever have. Please do inform us, how have US-based, Bay Area living Muslims hurt you? I’ll wait.

      • When I recall the resentment, suspicion, and outright hatred faced by first and second generation Vietnamese-Americans, and note the absence on their part of any sort of radicalization, I see your theory regarding American-Muslim radicalization fall apart. The Vietnamese endured and adapted in much the same way as have so many others: peacefully.

        Nice try.

    • I am all for airdropping BMX bikes and skateboards to Muslims, as long as we drop several tons of them, from 20,000 feet, out of dozens of B-52’s.

  5. Our nation is home to a great many religions, so either Supervisor Simitian intends this series to be the first of hundreds of such programs or his sudden concern with the public’s religious education is motivated by something other than a quest for universal understanding. But what could that be? How might my day-to-day activities as a citizen and those of locals belonging to the various Muslim sects be bettered by this attending these discussions? Will it…

    make me more tolerant of others? No, as I am already tolerate of others, provided they don’t break the law or disrespect the culture.

    make Muslims more tolerant of my beliefs? No, as this series is, by necessity, a one-way dissemination of information.

    make the rhyme and reason of the Muslim faith more apparent to me? No, as I already understand the human need for spiritual belief and am aware that, because reason does not factor into religion, any discussion of spirituality between me and a devout Muslim would be a disaster.

    change my political beliefs about immigration? No, as I accept the law of the land, that immigration is an opportunity to be extended as seen fit by the president.

    clear up my misconceptions about the Muslim faith? No, because I don’t care what it is that Muslims believe, argue about, or practice in the home. I only care about their behavior and its effect on me and my country. I judge Muslims as I have every other group, religious or otherwise — by their actions.

    It’s not surprising to find a local politician behind a program which, though allegedly justified by a politically-timely and questionable uptick in hate crimes, is simply another end-around to allow a group to avoid addressing its particular elephant in the room. In this case it’s terrorism, and if Mr. Simitian has his way when brainwashed locals hear and simultaneously mind-Google “Islam” the first link to terrorism will be safely buried on page 28, identify the perpetrators as “fringe radicals,” and be preceded by 27 pages of ain’t-they-sweet public relations pap. This is the same deceptive, half-century old scheme that’s failed to prevent home buyers from visualizing a violent and uncivilized elephant in every room occupied by African-Americans.

    Behavior matters, and groups that fail to acknowledge and work to correct the unacceptable behavior of their own kind have no right to expect others to tolerate it.

    • Finfan:

      I judge that you are tiptoeing perilously close to “shiny object-ism”, the shiny object being that Islam is a “religion” as contemplated by the U.S. Constitution. Islam is NOT a religion.

      “Islam” without Sharia Law is not “Islam”. Sharia Law is not an alternative philosophical system analogous to Baptist Law or Presbyterian Law or Mormon Law. It is a drop-in replacement for the U.S. Constitution. And it is NOT a functional equivalent of the U.S. Constitution. Sharia Law is sedition and insurrection against the Constitution.

      Clearly, Joe Simitian does not grasp either the Constitution or Sharia Law.

      • I am not equipped to address your point as I lack the knowledge necessary to understand Islam’s relationship with Sharia Law, just as I lack the knowledge to know whether Westboro Baptists qualify as genuine Christians or how atheist Jews can justify their claims of a divine right to lands occupied by others. If Sharia Law is, as you say, synonymous with Muslim belief, then I expect my government to know this and protect me from what I don’t understand, just as they are obliged to protect me from unvetted foreigners and imported viruses.

        For the record, I will assume Mr. Simitian is against amnesty for killer viruses.

  6. Well said Finfan. Robert if you don’t see Sharia Law as ever being a threat here in U.S., then I suggest you do some homework. I’d be happy to provide you with some reading material. Take a look at what’s happening in Minnesota. Neighborhoods in Michigan are no longer recognizable. Take a closer look at what’s happened in Europe. Doesn’t take long for laws to be passed where people can get arrested for saying or posting any thing considered offensive to Islam. Canada has just passed the same laws. Islam has a plan to spread and dominant the world (there are many videos of their religious leaders preaching this) and it is working since the West has opened it’s borders while being a welfare state.

  7. Joe Simitian wants to “create a better understanding of Islam” by promoting Islamic propaganda:

    What does it mean to be Muslim? The basics.

    Here is ‘basically’ what I understand. Mr. Simitian can tell me if I’m wrong:

    Islam gives us a clear, either/or choice: either convert to Mohammedism—or they will kill us. And they are not bluffing. They are co-religionists with those who crash airliners into buildings, and who throw gays off tall buildings, and behead innocent people. They immigrate here to murder as many non-Islamics as possible. And they all have the same Islamic beliefs.

    It is a central tenet of Islam that gives the rest of us that ‘either/or’ choice. That choice is the cornerstone of their religion. Islam would not be Islam without that basic requirement, and they do not accept half measures.

    Islam also states that its adherents should lie to infidels as a means of spreading their religion, so when they avoid discussing their religion’s requirment to murder anyone who does not accept Islam, rational folks should assume that they’re lying.

    If any of us proselytized for an organization whose guiding principle was that its members should murder those who refuse to join their organization we would be in very serious trouble, wouldn’t we?

    So why is this a one-way street? Why should Islamists (and their enablers) get a free pass?

    Each and every Islamist attending these officially sanctioned events should be required to publicly repudiate all Islamic teachings that would directly affect the lives of innocent people.

    If they’re willing to repudiate those murderous requirements, then I have no objection to Joe Simitian making these events officially sanctioned by his presence. But if these local Islamics refuse to recant their religion’s barbaric 7th-Century teaching, Simitian should promptly disassociate himself from that hate-based religion.

    • Smokey,
      I get it now, Islam is pro-choice, Democrats/ Liberals are all pro-choice. This would seem to explain the lefts suicidal alliance with Islam, they both love the power of death over helpless people that didn’t do anything to them.
      There I have solved another mystery!

  8. More muslim propaganda to hoodwink ignorant people into believing that Islam is a religion of peace on the same par with Christianity and Buddhism. Show up to these events and ask good questions about how Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists are badly mistreated in Muslim countries. And recite passages from the Quran that emphatically states to MURDER non-Muslims. Be prepared to fight these Muslim animals and free our clean land of them, folks!!!

  9. > 1. Depends on your definition of “Sharia Law”.


    I don’t define Sharia Law; Muslims define Sharia Law. And to Muslims, there’s no ambiguity, and no “depends on your definition.”

    Try again, MAX: “Q1: Does Sharia Law “express hateful or violent beliefs”?

    • I’m afraid it does depends on how you define it. Again, if you ask some Jews what their religion tells them to do, you’ll get pretty crazy responses that include violence. And if you ask other Jews you’ll get absolutely moderate opinions. The same applies to Muslims (and Hindus, etc.).

      Muslims living in the US that claim to live by “Sharia law” overwhelmingly see it as a set of moral guidelines that are private in nature. I’m more than fine with that.

  10. Max,

    If Muslims consider their beliefs in Sharia to be private, maybe it was just all heir murderous acts of violence, beheadings, suicide bombings and flying aircraft into buildings that fooled us.

  11. Isn’t it amazing and so instructive to know that these public officials who customarily couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag are instructing the ignorant among us on the virtues of bowing and scraping to Muslim supremacists and how to go about it? Isn’t that called ‘dhimmitude’? Be that as it may, we already are in possession of a history of fourteen hundred years of who and what the ‘religion of peace’ is and has ever been thus.
    According to the following from ‘Creeping Sharia’:
    A sanitized version no doubt. But, if Islam is a so-called religion of peace, why do taxpayer-funded officials need to promote seminars with the “hopes” of creating a better understanding of Islam? No other religion needs, nor gets, such benefits.

  12. Good news, people.

    Sharia Law is coming to a tolerant, progressive city near you. We are going to be s-o-o-o-o-o diverse!

    “Abdullah Rashid, 22, a Georgia native who moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, says his group, General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah, is trying to enforce what he calls “the civil part of the sharia law” in the area.”

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