The tea party group Constituting Michigan is bringing a hoaxer who claims to be a former terrorist to Allegan High School in Allegan, Michigan, to warn guests of the danger of creeping sharia law. The speaker, Kamal Saleem, was in Michigan late last year for The Call: Detroit, where he denounced Islam as demonic, and continues to work with the Oak Initiative and its state chapter Transformation Michigan. But Saleem isn’t your usual anti-Muslim speaker, as he claims to have been an Islamic terrorist until he converted to Christianity and found work at Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
However, Focus on the Family has since distanced itself from Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, and Calvin College professor Doug Howard writes that not only was Saleem misrepresenting Islam with blatant “absurdities” but was also misrepresenting his own background in his book The Blood of Lambs, which Howard called “obsessively, sadistically violent.” “Suffice it to say that if the subject were Jews, this book could not have been published.” CNN also looked into Saleem’s background and found no evidence backing up his claims of having been a terrorist, and Haroon Moghul of Religion Dispatches wonders how anyone who once claimed to be a devout Muslim could claim, like Saleem, to have been “allergic to Jesus” since Muslims consider Jesus the Messiah.
Dawud Walid of CAIR-Michigan pointed out that Saleem is a “complete fraud,” but event organizers say any criticism of Saleem is simply “the result of media bias”:
Allegan County political organization Constituting Michigan-Founding Principles will host a self-proclaimed former terrorist on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Allegan High School Events Center.
Kamal Saleem claims to have been a former Islamic radical and terrorist before converting to Christianity. He has since published a book detailing his experiences and makes regular tours speaking about his life and views.
”He had entered the U.S. and gotten in an accident, and received medical care,” said Carol Dannenberg, of Constituting Michigan-Founding Principles. “He thought, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to hurt these people.’ He was raised to believe that there was no hope, that killing was a good thing.”
”I met Saleem in my travels to Lansing,” said Bill Sage, one of the co-founders of Constituting Michigan. “He’s here to talk about keeping American law in American courts, to make sure that the Constitution is what we’re drawing from.”
Sage characterizes the organization’s main focus as education reform and a return to focusing on the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in schools. Sage will also be speaking at the event, as will state Rep. Dave Agema, according to organizers. Agema is one of the sponsors of House Bill 4769, which seeks “to restrict the application of foreign laws” in Michigan. Opponents have characterized the bill as discriminatory towards Islam.
”He’s profiting off the cottage industry of Islamophobia,” Walid said. “If he thinks that I’m lying, that I’m trying to falsely discredit him, he should sue me for defamation.”
Sage claims much of the controversy surrounding Saleem is the result of media bias.
”People don’t like his message, they don’t want him out there,” said Sage. “But if you listen to Kamal, you’ll understand.”