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Eye on Boise: Rep. Barbieri hosts lunch on ‘True Face of Islam’

After gathering more than a dozen lawmakers for lunch in a Statehouse meeting room last week to hear a presentation titled “The True Face of Islam in Idaho,” Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, says it didn’t turn out to be a very effective presentation.

Barbieri brought in a guest speaker, Shahram Hadian, a Christian pastor from Chattaroy, Washington, and former Muslim who heads the “Truth in Love Project,” which is dedicated to exposing what it calls “the true goal of Islam and threat of Shari’ah law in America.” Hadian told the Idaho lawmakers, “I was asked to come and just share about the advancement of Islam in Idaho … the real face of Islam.”

A day later, Barbieri said, “It was a lengthy and detailed lecture squeezed into an hour, which was an hour late because we were on the floor so long, so unfortunately, I didn’t think it was that effective.”

Hadian warned of Muslims spreading into conservative communities in the West and seeking to change the culture, and had particularly harsh words for resettlement of Muslim refugees in the region.

“We must curb and limit Islamic immigration and stop the refugee dumps,” he declared. “Spokane is a dumping ground. They’re targeting Boise. … They’re specifically targeting dumping in conservative areas.”

Barbieri said, “I understand that’s a fear of his – I haven’t sat down and had a conversation with him about it.”

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Hadian’s claims “Utter nonsense, utter nonsense. In normal times it would be laughable, but we’re not laughing now, because there are so many of these people going around the country, making these bizarre claims, and being given a platform by public officials as we saw in this case.”

Barbieri said he organized the lunch because he’s contemplating legislation regarding expanding Idaho’s civil forfeiture laws to apply in cases where someone’s convicted of an act of terrorism.

“It’s just basically a step toward making sure we’re addressing it, if an act occurs in the state,” he said. Barbieri said he likely wouldn’t propose the bill before next year, and it was prompted by reports that “big money, big accounts out there” are being maintained by supporters of terrorist groups.

He said Hadian’s presentation didn’t turn out to relate much to his bill, “other than the overall culture that the terrorism is coming from.”

Hadian told the Idaho lawmakers that religious tenets call on Muslims to “migrate, populate, segregate,” and said they’ve already moved to establish “enclaves” in places like Kuna and St. Maries in Idaho.

Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, asked Hadian, “Do they target the rural areas or the urban areas first?” He responded, “They actually target for enclaves more the urban areas,” but also warned of movement into rural areas.

Hooper said, “The Muslim community in Idaho is very small, and it’s just a shame that lawmakers would seek to exploit and promote Islamophobia with this kind of event.

“The dangerous part is when they accept misinformation as fact, and then legislate based on that misinformation,” he said.

Among those attending the lunch were three senators who boycotted a Hindu prayer that opened a recent session of the Idaho Senate, Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens; Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian; and Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood.

Among the handouts distributed at the lunch were one headed, “Islamic Creep – More Than A Crawl,” and another headed, “4 Stages of Islamic Conquest.”

Lawmaker agrees to LGBT forum

In response to recent statements from Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, about gays, two young activists delivered a letter to him – signed by 200 people from across the state – calling on him to meet with them in a “town-hall style forum” to discuss his concerns with members of Idaho’s LGBT community – and Shepherd said he’s willing.

“I want to have the forum, and I believe in that and I agree with that,” Shepherd told Eye on Boise. He said he wants to make sure it’s in a public place, as he’s received some threatening communications since his comments.

Shepherd sponsored a nonbinding memorial in the House calling for the impeachment of federal judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage. Last week, his expired campaign website was taken over by activists who turned it into a resource site for LGBT youth.

In a news release Thursday, Shepherd said, “I am a man with strong religious beliefs, primarily holding to the basic principle that the Bible is the inherent and inspired word of God. I will not stray from those views even though there are those who wish to bully and threaten me.”

He said, “I understand there are some who do not agree with my beliefs regarding the LGBT community and the interference of the federal government in regard to issues that I consider to be matters of the state. I respect their right to their opinion, unfortunately, they do not agree with my right to mine.”

Chelsea Gaona Lincoln, a young LGBT activist who offered to host the forum, pledged to meet with Shepherd in a respectful exchange marked by “Christian grace.” She said, “I just would like him to know someone personally that’s from the community.”

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog at www.spokesman.com/ blogs/boise/.