More than 200 interfaith members from the Islamic Society of Willmar and ISAIAH plan to rally outside of the Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar on Thursday evening to protest a planned talk by controversial anti-Islam speaker Usama Dakdok. The Christian Dakdok grew up in Egypt and spoke over 20 times from 2015 to 2016 in northern Minnesota trying to convince attendees that Islam is a dangerous cult.
Dakdok will also be speaking in Backus this week. His talk in Willmar will be a return visit. The school auditorium has been rented for the event by a group calling itself Thee Book Club. Dakdok heads an organization called The Straight Way of Grace Ministry. He told Minnesota Public Radio News that he has nothing against followers of Islam. “We hate the ideology of Islam, which called every Christian an infidel,” he said.
But Muslim community leaders say you cannot separate Muslims from Islam, and hateful messages against followers of the faith have led to fear and violence. Some 1,300 Somali immigrants now make their home in Willmar, a city of fewer than 20,000. A number of incidents have occurred over the past few years that highlight the cultural tensions and growing pains the city is coping with. While some parents have called on the Willmar Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Holm to cancel the event, Holm said the District Attorney told the school district it must allow the event or risk being sued.