Fewer than 20 of Idaho’s 105 lawmakers attended a Statehouse presentation Thursday night on refugee resettlement featuring two anti-Islam speakers, as close to 100 protesters lined the hallway outside the meeting, carrying signs saying, “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” and “Refugees Welcome.”
The Rev. Shahram Hadian, of Chattaroy, Wash., told an audience of nearly 200 people, “I’m not against refugees, but I’m against this particular program as it stands. … This program is broken, it’s corrupted.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Hadian and Christopher Holton, vice president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., said they believe Islam teaches that its adherents should kill non-believers, and they said the U.S. should be examining the ideologies of those it considers admitting as refugees.
Hadian said as a former Muslim born in Iran, “I have relatives … who believe that their highest goal is to go kill themselves for the sake of Allah.” When Hadian described his version of Islamic doctrine, a man in the audience stood and shouted, “You lie,” and left the room, calling out again, “He lies.”
Judy Cross, president of the board of the Idaho Interfaith Alliance, said, “He says this is for all Muslims, and that’s just not true. We have Muslims here. They are very peaceful. Their whole religion is based on peace. What he’s been sharing is a corrupted kind of message.”
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “I was there to understand what’s being said. I understand that there’s a tremendous amount of anger among my constituents, and I want to understand why. I think the answer runs deeper than this issue.” He added, “I’m really glad I went, to hear what’s being said.”
Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, said, “I just listened. I’ve heard him before.”
Hadian told the crowd he believes the Muslim Brotherhood is helping influence acceptance of refugees to promote jihad. “If I said to you that I’m going to send 10 people to your house, and you have no say who they are, and oh by the way … two of those people are known murderers, are going to try to kill you,” he said, “but you should show them compassion, let them in, give them a hug, give them food. Does that make sense?”
The supportive crowd answered with assents and occasional applause.
Holton told the crowd, “One of the reasons that we don’t recognize the threat that we face, one of the reasons we’re in denial about it, is that the Muslim Brotherhood has been active in this country for so long. … They’ve even influenced law enforcement and our intelligence apparatus, so it’s impossible to understand the threat.”
He added, “Somebody told them that jihad doesn’t mean to war against non-Muslims. Yeah it does. … The Muslim Brotherhood … has influenced our media, our elected officials, and our law enforcement and intelligence officials.”
Among the protesters outside was Madelyn Lee Taylor, a Navy veteran whose assistive scooter was adorned with a “Refugees Welcome” sign. She said she decided to participate in the protest because “It’s the right thing to do. These people are peddling hate and misinformation, a lot of misinformation."
Protester Beth Shannon of Kuna said, “I don’t think that there’s any reason that we can’t allow refugees in Idaho. Our state is too great for hate.”
The protesters gathered for a candlelight vigil on the Capitol steps during the presentation, then returned to line the hallway outside the Capitol auditorium before the presentation ended.
A counter-event had been planned for the same evening, featuring law enforcement, refugee resettlement and religious leaders along with local refugees telling their stories, but organizers decided to delay it and instead hold it later, when it wouldn’t compete with the other presentation.