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Kent GOP hosted event promoted anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate

January 27, 2012

Last night about 40 people sat in the Eternal Word Church on Wilson near 44th street to hear speakers at an event that was billed as “Living Under Sharia Law.”

The event was initially to feature State Representative Dave Agema, but Agema is on a speaking tour with “former terrorist” Kamal Saleem. Filling in for Agema was State Representative Tom Hooker from the 77th District of Byron Center. Hooker has co-sponsored the anti-Sharia Law bills, along with Agema. Hooker spoke about the legislation and how Agema had invited Saleem to a rally in Lansing (pictured together here) this past fall talking about the evils of Islam. According to a story by reporter Todd Hetwood, Kamal Saleem is a fraud and is just being used to promote anti-Muslim and anti-illegal immigration ideology that both Agema and Hooker are behind.

Rep. Hooker next provided some background on the legislation piece. “Our American Constitutional rights must be preserved. The US laws and political system do not exist in countries living under Sharia Law,” said Hooker. Hooker also claimed that there are at least 50 court cases that are challenging Constitutional law to introduce or use Shari Law around the country.

The American Laws for American Courts Act, known as HB 4769, does not specifically say it is anti-Islamic, since to target a specific religion is unconstitutional, according to Hooker. The Byron Center legislator then tells the crowd that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and MI Farm Bureau are blocking this legislation at the State level. This statement has the crowd puzzled, since most GOP voters are used to supporting the policies of the Chamber of Commerce. Hooker also states that 95% of the illegal immigrants in the US are not working in the farm sector, even though he provides no evidence to support such a claim.

In addressing his anti-immigration position, Hooker tells unfounded stories to support his draconian positions. Hooker says that some people who work at the US Border Patrol are members of al Qaeda and are allowing other terrorists to enter. Hooker mentions another bill that he and Agema co-sponsored, HB 4305, which is legislation to not allow communities to be sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are communities that have publicly declared they would be a safe space for those who are undocumented.

The keynote speaker for the event, a former Pakistani military leader, named Emmanuel Joshua, followed Rep. Hooker. He begins by saying that he has spoken in Lansing on the legislation bills that Rep. Hooker and Agema have co-sponsored. He implored the crowd to support these legislative proposals since there are “so many undocumented people from the Middle East who are entering the US.”

Joshua said that for years it was so easy for people in Pakistan to get a visitor visa to the US, which resulted in thousands of Pakistanis coming to the US and then overstaying their visit.

He then spoke about the threats of Shari Laws in the US. “If Shari Law comes to the US you can say goodbye to liberty and freedom. It’s like keeping a cobra as a pet. It has taken this country 200 years to make this country what it is, but it will take only 2 years for Shari Law to destroy it. I would trust a snake sooner than he would trust an Islamist.” The speaker said he was one of the few Christian officers in the Pakistani military, which means he was around a lot of Muslims.

Joshua said he supports stricter immigration laws. “I am saying this and I am an immigrant. The majority of those in favor of weaker immigration laws are Muslims crossing the US border from Mexico, passing as Mexicans.” Like Rep. Hooker, the keynote speaker provided to evidence to support his claims.

The speaker then asked people what they knew about the religion of Islam and said that most people think of the 77 virgins. “Terrorism is the tactic that Islamicists are using against democracy and the US. You can’t fight terrorism until you get to the root cause of terrorism. You have to fight the ideology that supports terrorism, which is Jihad. From 9/11 to today there have been more that 50,000 acts of terrorism and everyone of them has been committed by Islamic terrorists.”

People who say that Islam is a religion of peace are just ignorant fools,” according to Emmanuel Joshua. This statement elicited applause from the audience.

Joshua also said the groups that are carrying out these acts of terrorism, they are not marginalized groups, rather they are part of mainstream Islam. The speaker then talks about the Koran and picks out certain texts that he says justifies the acts of terrorists. Joshua said throughout his talk that, “some people will say that we are preaching hate here, but I say we are just presenting facts.”

This writer would certainly say that hatred towards Muslims and immigrants were promoted at this event, by both the speakers and the literature that was handed out. The minister from the church where this event was held gave out sheets of paper that explained how one can convert a Muslim into a Christian. Another handout provided biblical prophecy on the evils of Islam, a handout based on the work of Joel Rosenberg. Rosenberg writes novels that promote an anti-Islamic worldview.

In addition, there were glossy handouts with the heading Patriots for Christ that were calling people to action. Patriots for Christ is mostly a Midwestern Christian movement that makes as a focus the preservation of religious freedom under the US Constitution. However, this group seems to think that this right belongs to Christians and no other religious groups.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave Clark permalink
    January 27, 2012 7:13 pm

    No opinions. That says a lot about this opinionated story.

  2. January 27, 2012 7:47 pm

    I have no problem with stating opinions, especially when the event I covered was expressing nothing but hatred for Muslims and immigrants.

  3. John Rgood permalink
    February 18, 2012 4:52 am

    Obviously you know nothing about Islam. Your coverage is typical of an ignorant onlooker wishing for pastel colors and carnival music. Sharia law is the opposite of the “rule of Law”.Normal free speaking people are not fond of chains and binding. Legal, social, political, or actual.

  4. February 18, 2012 5:34 am

    I don’t claim to be a scholar of one of the main monotheistic traditions, but nothing you have said reflects that you know much of anything about Islam as well. Last year I was involved in bringing to Grand Rapids the scholar John Esposito who has written numerous books on Islam, such as “What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam.” What he had to say was fundamentally different than what the speakers I heard at the Kent GOP event. I also read Juan Cole’s blog regularly, where he speaks on Islam regularly. Another useful book is “Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.” by Robert Dreyfuss. In the future if you want to call me ignorant, be prepared to say that to my face or have something reasonably intelligent to support your insults.

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