ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — University of New Mexico sophomore Michael Guebara isn’t shy about letting you know what he thinks.
“I’m a big old redneck,” the Roswell-raised criminology major said. “I drive a truck; I love America; I love God and I shoot guns,” he said before displaying the tattoo of the Second Amendment on his chest.
In one day, 50,000 people learned more about his views. A video he posted of the Muslim Student Association’s discussion panel about ISIS, the Islamic State extremist group, went viral. Panel organizers say the point of the panel was to educate and dispel myths; his video, they say, has done the opposite.
“We don’t condone anything that ISIS does,” said Armez, president of the Muslim Student Association, who asked that his last name be withheld for safety. “We are against everything that they do. Islam doesn’t promote violence.”
Guebara’s viral video makes it clear he does not agree. “ISIS is at the SUB,” he said as he started recording the panel held in the Student Union Building.
“They are against the U.S.,” he continued. “This is disturbing, people. This is very disturbing.”
The grainy video shows a sign on a podium. The only discernable letters are “ISIS.”
“I am not okay with this as an American,” he narrates in the video. “I think we as a people should be scared this is the University of New Mexico.”
Fear is exactly what the Muslim Student Association says it was trying to address by holding a panel discussion about ISIS.
The student group says the discussion included topics about the intersection of religion and politics, as well as the roots of extremism (their videos are at the end of the story). It says Guebara’s Facebook post, titled “Pro-isis panel at unm,” has harmed their efforts.
“When you have the invention of Facebook, and social media in general, people kind of get bits and pieces of knowledge,” Armez said. “If that forms your perception, then that can be harmful.”
Panel speakers say Christians who sat in and listened to the panel have told organizers they don’t agree with Guebarra’s post.
“The majority of Christians, apart from him, were very surprised,” said Shafi Abdul Aziz, imam at Islamic Center of New Mexico. “They really appreciated the fact that we enlightened the community and we took a stand.”
Guebarra makes no apology.
“Everything has to be politically correct. We can’t go against something, we just have to listen,” Guebarra said. “Why can’t we just stand up and say our viewpoints and actually start a dialogue?”
The Muslim Student Association says a dialogue is what they didn’t get to have with him — or the 50,000 people who have viewed his video so far.