Mayor Joins Mosque's Tribute to Civil Rights Icon

April 5, 2008

Author: Paloma Esquivel

Source: The Los Angeles Times,1,5458175.story

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the guest of honor Friday at a Los Angeles mosque. But it was the spirit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that held the crowd.

"King was a leader who gave his life working for justice," said Muzammil H. Siddiqi, religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, in his sermon during Jumah, the weekly prayer service. "He stood for freedom, justice and equality among all. These are principles that we have to talk about as often as possible."

Villaraigosa and his daughter Natalia attended the services on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the civil rights leader and Christian pastor. His visit came about four months after the Los Angeles Police Department caused an outcry when plans for an extensive mapping program to identify Muslim enclaves across the city were revealed. At the time, police said the plan was needed to identify potential hotbeds of extremism.

Several Muslim leaders, including Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, which helped organize Friday's service, condemned the project as an exercise in racial and religious profiling.