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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Anti-Islam speakers reserve Capitol auditorium, invite all lawmakers to talk on refugees

Two anti-Islam speakers have reserved the Idaho Capitol auditorium and invited every Idaho legislator to a talk on refugee resettlement during the opening week of Idaho's legislative session. Legislative leaders say any group can do this, within certain guidelines, though the Senate president pro-tem says he initially thought the presentation was from refugee resettlement groups.

The two speakers are Shahram Hadian, a Christian pastor from Chattaroy, Wash., and Christopher Holton, vice president of the Center for Security Policy and an anti-Sharia law activist. Last year, Hadian addressed a dozen Idaho lawmakers at a lunch meeting in a House meeting room, where he warned of Muslims spreading into conservative communities in the West and seeking to change the culture, and declared, “We must curb and limit Islamic immigration and stop the refugee dumps.”

The Jan. 14 presentation is billed as “a very important presentation on refugee resettlement.”

“Based on the gentleman’s talk last year, I’m not interested in attending myself,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “I’ve got to leave that up to each individual legislator, though. I’m not going to dictate to them what they should attend and what they shouldn’t; that’s up to them. But I feel like I’m well-versed in the issue. I’ve studied both sides very carefully.”

Hill said he and his wife, along with another senator, made an extended visit to a refugee resettlement program at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls that’s been a target of local controversy, and discussed the program with officials there. Hill said he’s also met with the state’s director of homeland security and a representative of the governor’s office to discuss issues regarding refugee resettlement in Idaho.

“I’ve done everything I can to try to understand it, all the information out there,” he said. “I’m more interested in an unbiased approach, so that we look at it from a logical manner, both the pros and the cons … rather than a one-sided presentation. But that’s just me.” You can read my full story here at

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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