Bagley Schools deny anti-Islamist speaker
By Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer
BAGLEY — Protesters gathered outside the Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Bagley to decry the message of Usama Dakdok.
Originally slated to speak at the Bagley High School Sunday through Tuesday, Dakdok’s location was shifted to the church. The school had received calls from people who disagreed with Dakdok’s anti-Islamic message.
"We asked to change the venue to the church because the speaker did not appear to coincide with school district policy," said Steve Cairns, Superintendent of Bagley Public Schools. "The appropriateness of the conversation appeared to be more in tune with the church."
Cairns said after changing the venue, calls from community members both supporting and criticizing the decision were received.
Dakdok spoke at the Calvary Evangelical Free Church on Sunday and Monday before a full house, according to a representative of the church, with approximately a dozen protesters outside. Pastor Rick Moore could not be reached for comment.
"That’s why we needed the school," Dakdok said. "We needed more room."
Dakdok describes himself as an Egyptian born Christian who was taught Islam in a government school in Egypt. He came to the United States in 1992 and has since been preaching his ministry in effort to, "reach out to the Muslim people with the word of Jesus Christ."
Dakdok does not believe his message is inappropriate. He said he only speaks the truth and his ministry, The Straight Way of Grace Ministry, "teaches truth, not hate."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) disagrees. CAIR is an American Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. CAIR-MN claims Dakdok’s message, if delivered in an educational facility, would violate the district’s harassment and violence policy and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"By spewing his hate-filled views in a school auditorium, Mr. Dakdok would have created the perception that his bigotry has the endorsement of educational authorities," said Lori Saroya, Executive Director of CAIR-MN in a press release.
Dakdok claims his ministry is the first to accurately translate the Quran.
"Ignorant Americans think we want to teach hate," Dakdok said. "Sadly there aren’t enough men in the country with enough backbone or U.S. blood running through their veins to stand up."
Dakdok’s next stop is at Bad Axe Independent Lutheran Church in Viroqua, Wis. on November 3.
"Usama is not anti-Muslim," Dakdok said. "Usama is anti-Islam."