Jay Chen, the Democratic candidate campaigning for the newly drawn 39th District's House of Representatives seat this year, claimed his Republican opponent Ed Royce attended a "hate rally" aimed at an Islamic fundraising group in Yorba Linda last year.
In a phone interview, Chen also alleged that Royce, a 20-year veteran in the House and representative from the former 40th District covering parts of north and central Orange County, made comments at that rally rejecting multiculturalism in the United States.
"We want to let voters know who he is, because that's just not going to fly in a district that is 30 percent Latino, 30 percent Asian. We can't have that kind of representative," Chen said.
"He's made comments about wanting all federal service to be English only, including balloting, so he wants voting restrictions. And that's a clear attack on minorities and those for who English is a second language…He attended the Muslim hate rally in Yorba Linda, and he spoke out about multiculturalism."
Dave Gilliard, a consultant for the Royce campaign, responded to the comments from Chen, saying that, "if Jay Chen wants to call that a 'hate rally' then it shows a very shallow understanding of global terrorism."
Last February, the rally outside the Yorba Linda Community Center drew hundreds of flag-waving demonstrators from all over Orange County protesting a fundraiser held by the Islamic Circle of North American Relief USA.
The vitriolic nature of a small group of the rally's attendees garnered criticism of the protest across the Internet, and helped the YouTube video titled "Hate Comes to Orange County," which depicted parts of the protest, amass hundreds of thousands of views.
Protesters in the group shouted slogans like "go home," and "no Sharia law," at some of the fundraiser's supporters, who included women and children. Others hurled insults at people filming the protest.
According to the Orange County Register, many of the protesters were angry with the group's choice of two keynote speakers for the event: Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an imam at a mosque in Brooklyn, and Amir Abdel Malik Ali, a Bay Area Islamic activist.
A U.S. attorney named Wahhaj as a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He has since denied all involvement, and he was never charged.
Ali made statements at the University of California, Irvine in 2010 in which he supported the militant group Hezbollah.
Royce was invited to the Yorba Linda protest along with other Orange and Los Angeles county lawmakers like Rep. Gary Miller, the Republican congressman from the former 42nd District.
Royce spoke out against the two speakers, identifying them as radical Islamists.
"A big part of the problem we face today is that our children have been taught in schools that every idea is right, that no one should criticize others' positions no matter how odious," Royce said at the rally.
"And what do we call that? They call it multiculturalism. And it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make the critical judgement we need to make to prosper as a society."
However, after the rally, Royce also denounced the protesters who hurled insensitive remarks at the fundraiser attendees.
"I disavow the remarks and conduct of those protesters outside the entrance of the Yorba Linda Community Center who were yelling insults at those entering the center to hear Siraj Wahhaj and Abdel Malik-Ali. It was wrong," Royce said in a statement on his website.
According to Gilliard, Royce was there to speak because "these people are open advocates of terrorism against America."
Gilliard also responded to Chen's claims that Royce has supported legislation proposing English-only federal programs and voting restrictions.
Royce co-sponsored H.R. 997, the "English Language Unity Act of 2011," a bill that would have established the English language as the official language of the United States.
Royce has made comments supporting such legislation, saying that the federal government should also defund resources for Americans for whom English is not their first language.
"[English-only legislation] is also beneficial because right now we provide services for so many different languages," Royce said in a YouTube interview. "There's 300 languages, for example, that are spoken in California. Now think for a minute the resources that go into that, that instead could be deployed in order to teach young people English early, through immersion, effectively. How much would that save our state of California and the nation?"
Gilliard said that Royce is not against multiculturalism in the U.S., and that he has a track record of working with ethnic communities.
"He's been very involved with the Vietnamese community, he's been very involved with the Korean community, he's been very involved in the Indian-American community," Gilliard said. "And we don't give up one inch of ground to Jay Chen on any of those. It's sad and telling that he's trying to run a racial campaign here."