Professor Douglas Howard teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Michigan, where Kamal Saleem spoke last November. He was shocked to hear Saleem claim that a member of his family was the "the Grand Wazir of Islam."
"Wazir is a variation of vizier," Professor Howard explained. "The Grand Vizier was a political role in the Ottoman empire. No Muslim would ever claim that in connection with the role of mufti, which is a scholar of Islamic texts. It's like someone saying they were the governor of Christianity."
Professor Howard described the talk at Calvin College as "a tent meeting revival sermon sponsored by academic organizations."
The Village Voice also reported on the Air Force Academy Assembly, which was co-sponsored by the American Assembly, a policy forum affiliated with Columbia University. Here's what some of the eighteen New York students who attended the Assembly had to say about Shoebat and his fellow ex-terrorists:
[Omar] Khalifah, who is from Jordan, says he was shocked and offended by the proselytizing he saw. "We left our study for one week to try to find solutions, not to listen to a person who is speaking as a preacher, as if he is in a church," Khalifah says. ...
... Khalifah and other New Yorkers say they were initially annoyed at the trio's alarmist rhetoric, including claims that jihadist ideology is being taught in 90 percent of American mosques, and the characterization of Islam as an inherently violent religion. But they were truly offended by Shoebat's announcement that converting Muslims to Christianity was a good way to defeat terrorism.
Columbia law student Ernest Jedrzejewski compares the presentation to a Christian tent revival. "All we needed was a light from above and someone to suddenly get over an incurable illness," he says.- Advertisement -
After the speakers left the stage, Khalifah approached Saleem and challenged statements that he considered offensive and inaccurate. Saleem claims that Khalifah went even further, addressing a death threat to him in Arabic: "You are an enemy of Islam and you must die." Police questioned Khalifah but didn't charge him. "All the allegations were proved to be unsubstantiated, and I was free to go," Khalifah says. But it didn't end there.