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Local Politician's Asinine Response: 'Was The Guy Named Muhammad?'

L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (Photo by Mike Antonovich via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A comment from an L.A. County supervisor following Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino is drawing heavy criticism from Muslim community leaders.On Wednesday evening, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich spoke to a crowd of constituents at the West Ranch Town Council meeting and discussed the attack that killed 14 people earlier that day. According to the L.A. Times, during the speech Antonovich said, "The first thing I asked about this incident, was the guy named Muhammad?" The comment was then tweeted by freelance reporter Brandon Lowrey who was covering the meeting.

The comment has since been confirmed by Antonovich, who stands by his remark. Muslim community leaders, however, have taken to criticizing the county supervisor for unfairly singling out Muslims over other perpetrators of mass shootings.

"That is an insensitive statement coming from somebody in power like the supervisor," Kamal al-Khatib, president and co-founder of American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, tells the Times. He and other community leaders are concerned about potential backlash against Muslims following Wednesday's attack.

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Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in L.A., emphasizes the point, "During these challenging times, our country needs real leaders, not self-serving, immoral politicians who exploit people's anxiety and fear to fuel the phobia and paranoia," Ayloush tells the Times. "I'm sure he didn't ask on the weekend when there was a shooting in Colorado Springs if the shooter's name was Michael, because I know I didn't ask that."

In response to a request from the Times for comment, Antonovich wrote, "Radical Islamists have declared War on the United States." In the email response, the supervisor cited recent incidents, including a stabbing attack at UC Merced on four people by 18-year-old student Faisal Mohammad, and the attacks in Paris, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility.