Despite criticism from his council colleagues, San Juan Capistrano Councilman Derek Reeve found a chorus of support Tuesday night from public speakers defending his First Amendment right to boast publicly that he named one of his dogs after the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
"That's right," Reeve said during the Sept. 6 City Council meeting, "I named my dog Muhammad."
Dogs are considered particularly impure in the Muslim faith.
Councilman Larry Kramer called on Reeve to apologize for the comment and promise not to make remarks at public meeting that are offensive to minorities.
"We should celebrate our differences. It's what makes us strong. It's what makes the United States strong," Kramer said. "As leaders we should set a high standard of behavior."
Reeve refused to apologize, instead unleashing a diatribe on what he considers radical Muslim societies in other nations. Reeve said he and his family together decided to give the name to the dog in remembrance of a teacher who was sentenced to prison in a Muslim nation for giving the same name to a teddy bear during a school project.
"I can name six countries in the world where I can be sentenced to death. No recognition of natural rights, no recognition of civil liberties," Reeve said.
At the end of his speech, Reeve's supporters cheered and hooted. Some in attendance jokingly shouted "stone him!" when Reeve asked what action the council wanted to take.
Everyone who spoke on the issue during public comments backed Reeve and attacked what they said was the threat of radical Islam and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim organization that condemned Reeve's remark.
"These radicals have one evil goal, and that is to gain total domination of this beautiful Christian nation and western civilization," said Vaughn Becht, a Westminster resident. "We Christians will not succumb to their evil ways."
— ADAM ELMAHREK