COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — Zyan Abdul Rahim is 32 years old and has lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado his entire life. He describes himself as politically “moderate,” not having major feelings one or the other about issues like gun control and the social safety net. “I think common sense should keep guns away from kids and dangerous people,” Rahim told us, “and that keeping people from hitting the absolute rock bottom of poverty is morally right, but I don’t know what the right tax rate should be or any of that.”
Rahim said he was “absolutely gutted” when news broke of the shooting taking place at the Planned Parenthood clinic in his city a couple of weeks ago. “You just don’t expect that kind of thing to happen where you live,” he told us, “no matter how bad it gets out there, no one thinks there’ll be a mass shooting in their community.” But as terribly as the shooting made him feel, Zyan said he was “outraged and appalled” by how many of the Republican candidates for president have suggested that monitoring Mosques was a way to combat radicalization within the country’s borders in the wake of another mass shooting, this time in San Bernardino, California. In that shooting, two radicalizes Islamic people — one of whom was a United States citizen — stormed a holiday party and killed over a dozen people, wounding several more.
His outrage planted a seed in his head, he says, to bring a new proposal to the Colorado Springs city council — monitoring Christian churches. “I wonder if Mr. Huckabee would be okay if we used the Planned Parenthood shooting,” Mr. Rahim asked, “to justify monitoring all Christian sermons?” Zyan said that he “really doesn’t actually care” about religion all that much, but he finds it “offensive and rude” that Republican candidates seem so willing to sacrifice his civil liberties “for the sake of political expediency and a few more votes from the base.”
“I am asking the Colorado Springs city council to act in the best interest of its pro-choice citizens and to monitor all Christian church sermons until such time as we feel safe from further attack,” Rahim told the council members last week according to official transcripts. “If everyone can look at me with a raised eyebrow and follow me into my place of worship to spy on me,” he said, “then I think it’s only fair we monitor Christians, since they are clearly capable of terrorizing citizens when they radicalize as well.”
Mr. Rahim said he fully expects the council to reject his proposal when it comes up for a vote in the new year, but that isn’t his point in all of this. “Sometimes you have to be wrong to be right,” he told us, “and I know as an American that freedom of religion is a street that is supposed to run both ways. What I’m proposing is really just symbolic, a bit of civil protest if you will. But those bigots in the GOP? They’re really proposing that this country treat Islam differently than Christianity, as if all Muslims are terrorists. If we treated Christians like that, they’d be nailing themselves to crosses and wailing about it until the cows came home.”
“I’d just like to know when we can go back to respecting what the First Amendment, hell, what the whole damn Constitution says about our rights,” Rahim said, “that we all have them, but none of us have a right to trample someone else’s in defense of our own. If that makes me crazy, I don’t want to be sane.”