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San Juan Capistrano Councilman Refuses to Apologize for Naming His Dog Muhammad

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Photo by Shane Trotter via Shutterstock
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Derek Reeve might just be the Michael Scott of the San Juan Capistrano City Council.At a discussion about opening up a dog park in city limits, the councilman casually mentioned that he wanted to bring his basset hounds America and Muhammad to play with other dogs in the park. "That's right," Reeve said at the September 6 council meeting. "I named my dog Muhammad."

He thought it was funny and apparently, so did others at the meeting, according to the Voice of OC. Now he's shocked, shocked! that some people seem offended. His fellow city councilman Larry Kramer asked him to apologize at Tuesday's meeting.

Reeve wanted to explain the reason that he named his dog Muhammad in a Patch post, and one writer from the OC Register noticed that he had written:

"While playing with our family's two new Basset Hounds, Muhammad and America (Muhammad is the bitch), I was thinking ..."
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Although that part later was edited out.Reeve at some points during his explanation got choked up as he tried to explain himself at Tuesday's meeting, according to San Juan Capistrano Patch. He said this week had been a difficult one, with a "terrorist organization" (and we're leaving those scare quotes intact) reprimanding him for his public declaration of his dog's name.

But Reeve said he's not going to apologize for what he said, after all he was teaching his children a lesson in free speech. He wanted his children to know that in some parts of the world they could be sentenced to death for naming their dog Muhammad. In Reeve's Land of the Free, on the other hand, local Muslim leaders are just calling him childish, un-American, irresponsible and immoral.

Local Muslim leaders saw the comment as an attempt to provoke the larger Muslim community. News reports discussing the incident mention that dogs are considered unclean to Muslims, which means that naming your unclean pet after a holy prophet is a major diss. (Although it's not as if naming your dog after Mother Teresa in the West is much of a compliment either — it's just the type of thing we could picture Christopher Hitchens doing)

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told Patch the comments were beneath the Muslim community: "It's difficult to dignify such childishness," he said. "It doesn't even deserve a condemnation." He added: "I'm sure the dog is more useful to the city than the city councilman [Reeve]," Al-Marayati said.

This is not the first go-round that the Muslim community has had with elected public officials in Orange County.