A city council member in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., announced at a council meeting earlier this month that he named his dog, "Muhammad" – and now Islamic groups want an apology.
Councilman Derek Reeve says he named his dog Muhammad to make a statement against oppression in other societies, the Orange County Register reported.
However, dogs are considered unclean in Muslim culture and calling someone a "dog" is a grave insult, so naming a dog after the Islamic prophet is even worse.
Fellow councilmember Larry Kramer, an ex-Navy officer, said Reeve's behavior was unbecoming of an elected leader. "As leaders we should be setting a higher standard of behavior," he said.
Mayor Sam Allevato, a former police officer with 30 years of experience, agreed.
"When you're up here on this dais, you have a different role," he said. "You're an elected leader of the 37,000 people who we represent. We're here to represent everyone."
According to a separate OC Register article, Waqas Syed, the deputy director of the Islamic Circle of North America's Southern California (ICNA-SC) praised Kramer's comments and asked Reeve for an apology.
"ICNA-SC commends Mayor Pro Tem Larry Kramer for his letter distancing himself from such comments and for calling them what they are: 'offensive,'" Sayed said.
"As all Americans, ICNA has always firmly supported the fundamental American value of freedom of speech for all, including elected officials. While it reminds that elected officials, due to the nature of their office, also have the responsibility of representing all their constituents and of observing a higher standard of morality than private citizens," he added.
Sayed also called on other councilmembers to "clarify their positions" after nobody but Kramer and Allevato took a stance on the issue, as well as to "impress upon Mr. Reeve to offer a public apology."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) also called on Reeve to apologize "for showing disrespect toward Islam's revered prophet Muhammad by making a derisive public comment involving his dog named 'Muhammad'."
OC Register columnist Frank Mickadeit said that Reeve's excuse of making a statement against oppression was probably not genuine.
In a blog post on Patch.com, Reeve wrote: "While playing with our family's two new Basset Hounds, Muhammad and America (Muhammad is the b****), I was thinking ..."
Reeve said he did not mean to publish the “Muhammad is the b****” part and it has since been deleted.
Also, in an email interview with Reeve, the councilman admitted that he was fearful of possible retaliation and removed his biography from the city website.
Mickadeit criticized Reeve for putting his family at risk for the sake of making a "statement against oppression" as Reeve calls it, or a "stupid, offensive joke," as Mickedeit believes it is.
Reeve has not apologized for the remark and says he has received a lot of support from citizens. In fact, at a council meeting formed to address the controversy, one of Reeve's supporters screamed form the back of the room: "I want my country back!"
Syed said there are "growing cases of bigotry and Islamophobia" in Orange County and that he his considering holding protests.