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Barth’s Notes: Hypocrisy from Thomas More Law Center on Kamal Saleem and Free Speech

Kamal Saleem has his scared face on

Good piece by Richard Bartholomew on the manipulative tactics of the Thomas More Law Center and Kamal Saleem:

Hypocrisy from Thomas More Law Center on Kamal Saleem and Free Speech

by Richard Bartholomew

From Wood TV, 27 January:

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) – Rep. Dave Agema told 24 Hour News 8 he thinks Allegan’s police chief overreacted when he shut down an event the representative and a self-proclaimed former terrorist were both speaking at.

Allegan City Police Chief Rick Hoyer told 24 Hour News 8, he didn’t find out there was a bounty on the head of Kamal Saleem, until his speech at Allegan High School was already underway.

…Hoyer said Commissioner [Willis] Sage actually walked up to one of his officers during the event and told him that Saleem had a $25 million dollar bounty. That officer, a sergeant on the force, checked out the information with Saleem’s body guard. When the armed body guard confirmed it, telling police that Islamic terrorists who follow the teaching of the Quran that have been directed to behead Saleem, that’s when Hoyer said they took action.

Hoyer perhaps did misjudge the situation – but he found himself himself having to make a immediate decision on a matter of public safety based on information given to him at the last moment. It appears that Saleem was a victim of his own self-publicity;  the obvious question is why, if the “$25 million” bounty really exists, Saleem is not under round-the-clock police guard, in the same way that Salman Rushdie was for many years.

The Thomas More Law Center has now put its own spin on the event in Allegan, as it announces a lawsuit:

Amid shouts of “What about free speech?” from the audience, the Allegan Police Department ordered the event shut-down.   School officials notified police that they had received a letter complaining about the event from Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).   The letter asked the school to disallow the event despite an existing contract.  CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding trial in U. S. history, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation.

…TMLC’s federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of State Representative David Agema; a chapter leader of ACT! for America, Elizabeth Griffin; Allegan County Commissioner, Willis Sage; and Mark Gurley, one of the event sponsors.

In fact, the TMLC’s lawsuit stinks of bad faith – and here’s why:

193. Defendants’ pretextual claim that the free speech event needed to be shut down subverts the true cause for the closing of the free speech event: complying with the demands of  hecklers, evidenced by the letter of Defendants CAIR, People For the American Way, Walid, and Keegan, and valuing the heckler’s veto over Constitutional freedoms of Plaintiffs.

…225. Defendants CAIR, [Dawud] Walid, People For the American Way, and[Michael] Keegan intentionally interfered with the Contract by sending a letter to Defendant [Kevin] Harness requesting  that the School District breach its Contract with Plaintiffs.

226. Defendants CAIR, Walid, People For the American Way, and Keegan improperly interfered with the Contract.

First, there is no evidence that Hoyer acted on any “letter” that was sent to the School District – why would he? And if so, why would he have allowed the event to get underway in the first place? But more substantively, the TMLC is seeking to punish groups and individuals for daring to contact the School District with their concerns about Saleem. Neither CAIR nor PFAW had any decision-making power over whether the event went ahead – the only reason they are included in the lawsuit is because TMLC wishes to suppress free speech while pretending to uphold it. It’s a SLAPP, and utter humbug.

In fact, there are very good public interest reasons for interested parties and concerned individuals to have contacted the School District – and PFAW’s liberal political perspective or troubling allegations about some of CAIR’s associations are irrelevant. Saleem presents himself as an ex-terrorist turned Christian whistleblower, when in fact his back-story is extremely dubious, and his claim to be an expert on Islam cannot be taken seriously. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, he spoke a Christian Right/conservative conflab called The Awakening 2012; as Right Wing Watch has documented, he used the occasion (standing alongside Frank Gaffney) to allege that when Obama appears to pledge allegiance to the flag, he holds his hand in a special way which shows that in reality he is praying to Allah. Saleem also statedthat Roe vs Wade was part of a plot to establish shariah, and that plans to reform immigration law involves “sending money to Hamas” in order to import Muslims, with the result “this world will become past tense and one day we’ll be wearing ragheads”. Such extravagances speak for themselves – and demonstrate that Saleem’s presence degrades the dignity any educational setting.

In 2010, Saleem was debunked in a piece published in Books & Culture, a sister publication of the evangelical Christianity Today. According to the article’s author, Doug Howard:

I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. The signature of his deception was his statement that “in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam.” The term is ridiculous, a spurious title meant to mislead the innocent with an aura of authority.

…In The Blood of Lambs, Kamal Saleem writes, “I wanted to be like Bond.” In these pages he is Bond, James Bond, in size 6X. He gets those emphatic rivals, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood, both to recruit him. He recalls the intricate details of raids he carried out at age seven. Abu Jihad himself teaches him how to use an AK-47. He is shown off by Yasser Arafat as a model warrior. In Libya at age 14 he has Muammar Qaddafi gushing in gratitude. In Iraq, he waves to Saddam Hussein… Even if one were disposed to give these entertaining claims the benefit of the doubt, the book’s frequent mistakes give the reader pause. The Islamic umma does not mean one world government, and it is not “coming.” The PLO was a secular organization even though Yasser Arafat prayed and quoted the Qur’an.

Further details appear in a recent article in Mother Jones:

Saleem claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has put a $25 million bounty on his head, and that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 event in Chino Hills, California, he writes in his book, he returned to his Holiday Inn to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. Saleem describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt. Local law enforcement, however, has no record of any such incident.

The same article contains a quote from someone who knew Saleem in the USA before he was famous:

…[Wally] Winter recalls his former roommate as a devout Muslim whose yarns often lapsed into wild exaggeration. “He could sell swampland in Louisiana,” Winter says. “I really do not believe the story about the terrorism. I totally believe that he would make up something like that to either make money or become well known.”

The City of Allegan, meanwhile, has issued a statement, as reported by MLive:

Attorney Scott Smith, representing Allegan, said in a statement that the city has not been served with the lawsuit, but he reviewed it this morning. It names the city, police chief, police officers, school officials and two advocacy groups as defendants.

…”This lawsuit is disappointing in many ways,” Smith wrote. “It is based on conjecture, logical fallacies, and, more disappointingly, factual inaccuracies. The plaintiffs did not even spell one of the defendants’ names correctly. It is disappointing that the lawsuit wrongly imputes motives to the police officers.”

He said he was disappointed that the lawsuit was filed. He said the city cooperated with Thomas More as it sought information about the Jan. 26 event.

“The City quickly provided the requested information and offered to address any other questions or concerns the Thomas More Law Center or its client might have. But, without any further inquiries or any attempts to address the plaintiffs’ concerns, a lawsuit was filed. If, as seems to be alleged by the complaint, its sole purpose is to ensure the defendants respect First Amendment rights, a lawsuit was unnecessary.”

UPDATE: I note that one of the the plaintiffs, Mark Gurley, is a pastor (at the Healing Rooms of Grand Rapids), and he is a member Rick Joyner’s Christian Right group theOak Initiative. He’s also a birther.

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  • Nur Alia

    Susanna…

    I totally agree with you about ‘something fishy’. What I see is that Kamal has spoken in several venues…as you say, and there has been no attempt on his life…even for 25 million USD…by anyone.

    It seems that, if this guy had so much money on his head, you could get up an army to collect on it.

    The other thing that seems ‘fishy’ is that Kamal is walking around the USA, giving speeches to crowds like these, after claiming he gave aid, support, and even participated in terrorism…and there is no bounty on his head for his arrest and deportation back to the Christian Broadcast Network he worked for for 16 years prior to his lies in America

    Oh…and where exactly does it say in the article that the guards were ‘armed’?

  • Susanna

    There seems to be something very fishy here- on the part of the police. Public safety? Whether or not there is a bounty on his head, the motivation to shut down the event was and remains a matter of Freedom of Speech. Kamal has spoken in many venues, none of which have been shut down for the “bounty” on his head. He speaks in churches and there is no problem with his armed guards there.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    I kind of wish there WAS a bounty on his head. I’ve still got my student loans to pay off. LOL. And before Spencer, Geller or whatever other Islamophobic bigots get their panties in a knot, yes that’s a joke not a threat. In bad taste, perhaps, but then aren’t all the really good ones? I’m not a killer. I’m a lover. But it should raise a few questions. People on jihadwatch and atlas shrugged regularly call for genocide against Muslims – and anyone who looks Muslim. Americans are more than happy to write off the deaths of children in Yemen, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere as ‘collateral damage’ if it helps us maintain a lifestyle of excess. Just as we ignore some of the worst offenses in sweat shops and the like too.

    I suppose what I’m trying to do here is call out the blatant hypocrisy of it all, in the most offensive, provocative way. People get upset over Grand Ayatollah Khoemeini calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie. And yes, they should. It’s WRONG to murder anyone regardless of how much of an ass they are. And yes, Rushdie is a good writer, not a great writer, but a good one. But from everything I’ve seen and read, he is also a pompous ass. That doesn’t excuse calling for his murder. Just like it doesn’t excuse calling for the murder of… oh I don’t know, Anjem Choudary or Nick Griffin either (though at least you can make the very valid case that humanity would be much better of without either or both of them; again, a joke, though one not too far removed from reality).

    But it rather galls me that we see a visceral reaction from people who may never have even READ Rushdie’s books, while they will at most give a sigh of apathy at the deaths of nameless, faceless Iraqis, and Yemeni, and Palestinians, and so forth. Marwa al-Sherbini and her unborn child were stabbed to death in court in front of a judge, and there was no outrage. In fact, German police went out of their way to PROTECT the murderer, even trying to keep his identity secret. And several of the memorials to her were vandalized. So yeah, it strikes me as a pretty blatant message that some lives are inherently more valuable than others. That being said, I really DO value my finances more than anything about Geller, Spencer, etc. They already have made more than enough money spreading racism and hatred. Fuck them.

  • Abdul-Rahman

    The Muslim Brotherhood does not have any supposed “bounty” out on this clown “Kamal Saleem” or anybody else. Oh yeah and a “$25 million bounty” would be a huge waste for a pathetic clown like him!

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Okay, perhaps a bigger question is what the hell Saleem is doing speaking at a high school. Isn’t that indoctrinating students with right wing propaganda? Yeah, I went to high school in the Midwest. I still remember how tightly religion was wound up in stuff there. They did have Christian prayer groups, rallies and all that. I don’t mind anyone having their beliefs, but it crosses into indoctrination. You can bet that Geller, Spencer and of course Saleem here would get their panties in a knot if there was a Muslim prayer group or high school rally.

    The second thing… this jackass has armed guards in a high school? That’s seriously inappropriate for so many reasons. I seem to recall schools being a zero tolerance environment for obvious reasons. I wonder why nobody is commenting on that part. He can keep his story about a bounty on his head, but don’t bring guns to a public school…

  • Nur Alia

    It doesnt even make sence that CAIR would send a lettter to the police, telling him that this liar had a bounty on his head.

    It seems that his lies may have backfired on him.

    The police should have done thier duty in the correct way, and arrested the terrorist on his own, numerous claims of being involved with known terrorist groups, and doing harm to innocent people.

    I blame the police for this, rather than for minding for the safety of the terrorist he claims to be.

  • Abdul-Rahman

    This “Kamal Saleem” guy is such a ridiculous and pathetic joke (making some easy money milking the rampant Islamophobia among the right wing xenophobes in the US). He has actually claimed his uncle (or one of his close male relatives) was supposedly a made up title he called the “Grand Vizier of Islam”! Anyone even a little acquainted with the religion of Islam would know that there is no “pope” like position in Islam and the claims of “Kamal Saleem” are ludicrous!

    Also “Kamal Saleem” absurdly claims he began “fighting” (I assume he means against the Zionists) when he was only seven years old (of course with no source for his silly assertions) and also his fairy tale often involves him claiming he was a “member” of various groups (again with no sources) which are often even rival groups (i.e. groups that have their own rivalries with each other). Like the secular, pan-Arabist and nationalist PLO (especially in the past under Yasser Arafat) and the religiously based group Hamas which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (that was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna).

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