Art Barrios is a former city council member for El Monte, California. Today, some are hoping that he soon becomes it former city planning commissioner, as well.
Earlier this week, Barrios posted an article to his Facebook account regarding a move by China to ban Islam. Along with it, he the commissioner posted “China makes major moves to ban Islam. Sounds good maybe the rest of the world should do the same.”
This got the attention of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), who’s now calling for Art Barrios to resign.
Mr. Barrios says that his post was targeting Islamic extremists with his comment. In speaking with the Los Angeles Times, he offered the following comment:
“I thought it was about time that we stop kowtowing to the Islam that’s doing the racist things and doing the things that are bad for any religion…I’m an American citizen. I have the right to think anything I want to think … I have the right to do what I want to do. [CAIR] have the right to do what they want to do.”
But, when one is a public official, questions of bias can impact the public’s trust in your job performance, as cited by CAIR spokesperson Haroon Manjlai:
“It is extremely alarming when somebody in such a position expresses their bigoted views against any minority. Next time there is a matter involving the Muslim community in the city of El Monte it’ll be very hard for Muslims to believe that any decision rendered against them was not driven by this bias that Mr. Barrios clearly holds.”
It now appears that Art Barrios is walking back some of what he said and took to Facebook to offer the following apolog:
“I am sorry if I have offended anyone, particularly those who practice Islam. As an American, I welcome all and encourage open discussion and I do not wish to belittle the freedom that we have. Lastly, I wrote hastily and my point was far off from my intended thought and I’d like to apologize for it.”