Michael Noah Guebara, a sophomore criminology major, posted the almost-two-minute-long video, titled “pro isis panel at unm,” on his Facebook page. It was clearly shot from the stairs adjacent to the atrium — a position from which it is difficult to hear what the panel is saying.
Guebara can be overheard saying, “This is disturbing, people. This is very disturbing,” and, “As a God-fearing, gun-loving American, I am scared.”
Guebara declined to give comment to The Daily Lobo, saying in a Facebook message, “I will not be giving a statement to the daily lobo as I do not support your liberal views.”
Event organizer Rehab Kassem said that the video mischaracterizes the purpose of the panel, which she said was to educate attendees on how the actions of ISIS are not in line with Islam.
“What this guy is doing is counter-productive to what we’re trying to do,” she said.
She said many attendees took videos of the panel, and they were allowed to do so, but that Guebara’s video, along with the comments he makes, takes the event out of context.
“You can’t even hear what the panel is saying,” she said of the video. “You can only hear what he is saying.”
At press time the video had generated upwards of 48,000 views and nearly 1,700 shares. At the end of the clip Guebara calls on right-wing political commentators Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to “please bring this up on your show.”
On Thursday afternoon the MSA posted raw footage of the entire panel — about two hours in length — on its Facebook page in order to “clarify the misconceptions regarding the panel.”
Event coordinator Masood Mirza started the panel by saying, “This is actually more of an anti-ISIS panel. We’re going to be talking about the non-relationship between Islam and ISIS.”
Kassem said that people who watch Guebara’s video may reach inaccurate conclusions due to the clear display of a sign reading “ISIS” in large letters. But she said the purpose of the sign was to attract listeners, which it did.
She said it was the group’s largest event thus far.
“It served its purpose: We left it on the podium because people who were walking, it stopped (them) and caught their attention,” she said. “We want to reach out to as many people as we can.”
Kathryn Lafayette, a Muslim who sat on the panel, said that it seemed most people in attendance understood that the panel was anti-ISIS.
“It’s a University with intellectual people, and they automatically know that there’s a big disassociation between the Muslims they go to class with and this crazy group in Syria and Iraq,” she said. “And that was good; it was refreshing for us to see.”
Lafayette said she and her fellow Muslims who sat on the panel actually put themselves in harm’s way because ISIS kills more Muslims than it does any other group. Guebara’s video potentially puts them in greater danger, she said.
“I think it was very dangerous and irresponsible of him to post this, and potentially risk some sort of backlash from the students here,” she said. “My concern is that people are watching this and taking it as the whole picture, and I feel like that’s a very dangerous thing to do.”
In the footage that the MSA posted, Guebara is seen engaged in passionate discussion with the panelists, bringing up verses from the Quran that seemingly condone things like violence and rape.
But one of the panelists countered by asking him to look up a similar verse from the Bible and read it out loud.
Lafayette said it is wrong to judge a religion based on individual verses taken out of context.
“It’s extremely ignorant to take one sentence and pull it out of all historical and literary context and say ‘this is Christianity’. That’s the point we were trying to make,” she said.
While Guebara said on Facebook that he was being attacked by the panelists for his Christian beliefs and was told to leave, the panelists can be seen in the video thanking him for speaking his heart and respectfully addressing each of his points.
The exchange lasted about 15 minutes, after which the panel suggested he relinquish the microphone to others in the audience who also had questions.
UNM Communication Director Dianne Anderson said that the MSA followed all procedure and protocol concerning the use of the SUB and UNM’s speech policy. She emphasized that University campuses should be a place for ongoing and engaging debate, even when dealing with controversial topics.
UNM didn’t have an official comment on Guebara’s video.
Guebara posted multiple videos on Facebook in response to critics telling him the panel was anti-ISIS, referring to himself as “Mr. America.”
“To all of ya’ll that think you can vilify me for posting the truth, take your pro-ISIS panel and shove it up your ass,” he said.
In another video that has since been taken down, Guebara addresses Muslims directly, saying he’ll retaliate if they damage his way of life. In the video, he had what appeared to be shotgun at his side.
“Understand: try to take my guns, try to hurt my America, and we’re gonna have a f-----g problem,” he said.
He ended by thanking everyone who had shared his videos.
David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter
@RealDavidLynch. Jonathan Baca, Moriah Carty and Aaron Anglin contributed to this report.