Sunday, October 9, 2016

Slander, Dirty Tricks, and Sneak Attacks

The moderator at yesterday's BOE Candidate forum took a question from someone who may have looked familiar to some in the crowd. It was Nayab Siddiqui, husband of incumbent candidate Janet Siddiqui.

That's odd. You just don't plant your spouse in the audience of such an event to labor on your behalf. That's not what candidate forums are for. It's unprofessional. It's patently interfering with the process.

Mr. Siddiqui's action in itself was inappropriate. Once he opened his mouth, it got worse. It soon became apparent what his agenda really was.

  • It wasn't about education.
  • It wasn't for all the candidates to address.
  • It was a lie.

I'm sharing Siddiqui's words here because I want to call out his outrageous behavior. Many thanks to Howard County blogger and businessman Scott Ewart for sharing a transcript of this portion of the event. (To hear more of Scott's audio coverage, go here.)

"Can you quickly name the two individuals who started the campaign against the Muslim academy in the Western Howard County not to include them and not to have the academy, what were the two names? I read something uncomfortable so, what I wanted to confirm, anybody can name the two individuals?"

"The two individuals who started the campaign against the diversity and inclusion in Western Howard County for muslim institute, can you name those two individuals?"

"I will answer that for you, the last name is Cutroneo and the last name is Yungmann."

Mr. Siddiqui wasn't there to ask a question, he was there to attack Vicky Cutroneo.

This particular issue has come up time and again during this race and each time Ms. Cutroneo addresses it thoroughly and in a forthright manner. And she did again, in yesterday's forum, despite being blindsided by the husband of a fellow-candidate.

"I would be happy to address that. It was a zoning issue, it would not have mattered if it was a Starbucks headquarters. We would have been against something that intensive for the area and any news articles or social media will back that up. It was a zoning issue. In fact, we weren’t against it, we were actually for limited development approval of what was approved before (but not the academy before.)"

"We were working with “Dar-us-Salaam” on a set of covenants, so they would be in there right now if they had agreed to the covenants/restrictions that were there in place before, so, thank you."

Two things:

1. If you feel that Ms. Cutroneo's having been in favor of only limited development in Western Howard County disqualifies her for the BOE, you might have a bone to pick with her. I don't know why you would, but I guess you might.

2. The suggestion that this had anything to do with diversity and inclusion is a complete and utter falsehood. If you have any questions about this, Ms. Cutroneo has and continues to make herself available to anyone who wants to learn more about her candidacy.

I'd like to leave you with this thought: what Nayab Siddiqui did yesterday on his wife's behalf was slander. This quote from local activist Lisa Markovitz sums it up nicely:

"So, FYI, making untrue statements verbally is slander and in writing is libel. The damage is defamation of character due to untrue statements. Some untrue statements do not even need to show actual financial damages to be actionable. They are called per se claims, like falsely saying someone committed a crime. I think false racism claims fall into that per se category. Also, claiming someone is Islamophobic who isn't does a disservice to those who are harmed by real Islamophobia, which saddens me." -- Lisa Markovitz, The People's Voice

I have absolutely no idea whether Ms. Cutroneo is contemplating legal action against against Mr. Siddiqui. I do have this suggestion: that Nayab Siddiqui be banned from future candidate forums

If Dr. Siddiqui 's record as a Board Member is as strong as she claims, she should be able to navigate these events without his assistance.


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