Controversial speaker gives final presentation in Bagley
BAGLEY -- Controversial Christian speaker Usama Dakdok gave a multi-hour speech on the supposed evils of Islam on Monday at Bagley High School, his third and final presentation in three days in this small, northwest Minnesota community.
Dakdok spoke to an audience of about 100 people Monday, mostly seniors. His presentation went forward mostly without incident in contrast to a similar speech Dakdok gave Sunday, during which the police were called after attendees allegedly accosted a Muslim protestor.
CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, alleged that during Dakdok's Sunday event, the police were called to protect one of the Muslim protestors from what their press release referred to several times as an "angry mob."
"One attendee described an angry mob of Dakdok supporters who then began harassing the Muslim woman: 'People were yelling at the Muslim woman, 'Get out' and 'You weren't invited.' Men were getting to their feet and moving towards her to lay hands on her,'" the release issued Monday stated.
Bagley Police Chief Larry Peterson confirmed Monday he personally responded to a call for service from the high school Sunday because some present felt the woman was threatened. He arrived, spoke to both sides, and calmed the situation down, he said. The woman was allowed to remain in the auditorium.
Peterson said the rest of Sunday's program went forward without incident, but after the event had ended, a discussion between opposing factions turned heated and he asked the remaining attendees to disperse.
"It was getting louder and louder and I just said 'Time to go'," Peterson recounted. "Everybody peacefully went, and I was thanked by both sides."
"One member of the angry mob, seemingly upset with Muslim presence, later approached the officer and asked: 'Can I borrow your gun?'" the CAIR release said.
Peterson said he was the officer CAIR referenced in Monday's press release. Although he confirmed an audience member approached him and asked to borrow his gun, Peterson said the man was joking and did not intend to commit harm. Furthermore, the man did not appear to be affiliated with either Dakdok's supporters or the people protesting, Peterson said.
"He wasn't representing one side or the other, he was just a local that came to watch the show," he said. "He said it in a joking manner.... he laughed at me, slapped me on the shoulder and continued out the door."
On Monday, Tammy Godwin, who invited Dakdok to Bagley, began the presentation by paraphrasing parts of the CAIR's release. Dakdok and Godwin countered the release to some laughter and scoffs from the crowd.
"We all must be Islamophobes," Dakdok told the crowd. "You must be afraid of them. If you are not afraid of them....you are too ignorant."
Dadok railed against liberals, who in his view allow Muslims to enter the country. He spent much of the lecture citing excerpts from various textbooks he said he disagreed with. Some implied the Bible was not literal fact, but a religious text and others referenced Jesus as originating from Palestine, not Israel. These, Dakdok assured the audience, were "lies."
"We need to move this trash out of our public school and replace it with Jesus' teaching," he said. "Muslims are trying to use (it) to brainwash your children."
He also claimed as lies excerpts from textbooks that pointed out there have been other examples of terrorism in world history besides that perpetrated by Muslim extremists and the reasons for modern terrorism are complex.
Dakdok said the reason most of the people in the audience were older was because young people have already been exposed to the lies and thus didn't believe in the Bible. The next time Dakdok would come to Bagley, he said, he wanted to see the audience filled with young people.
"You force your children to come and hear me," Dakdok said.
Monday's meeting went off mostly without personal confrontation. Dakdok did take a moment to speak against people who had been handing out flyers at the high school entrance for a CAIR-sponsored "community dialogue" in August that seeks to promote tolerance of Muslims. Dakdok offered to pay $100 to anyone who videotaped the dialogue.
While Dakdok was originally scheduled to speak at the Bagley High School in October, the location of the speech was relocated to the Calvary Evangelical Free Church after the School District reversed its decision to let the pastor rent the auditorium. The district then reversed that decision and allowed Dakdok to speak the past three days for reasons it did not disclose on the record.
However, the Pioneer obtained an a Nov. 21 email sent to the Bagley School Board from attorney Richard L. Mast Jr. from the Liberty Counsel, a public-interest law firm specializing in church-state and political speech matters. The email told the School Board if it did not reverse its decision, then "further steps to prevent irreparable harm" to Dakdok would be taken.