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Controversial speaker planned at symposium on Islam in Ypsilanti

The Detroit News

August 7, 2013

By Mary Hicks

The Ann Arbor-based Ave Maria Radio plans to hold the “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” symposium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center, 900 Oakwood, Ypsilanti.

Featured debaters include Robert Spencer, the controversial director of the Jihad Watch website.

His writing, which has been called anti-Muslim, was quoted in a manifesto by the man accused of the Norway killing spree in 2011, the New York Times and the Anti-Defamation League reported. The British government this year banned Spencer from entering, according to BBC News, and a Southern Poverty Law Center report has listed him as among an “Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.”

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Michigan, said he supported Spencer’s free speech rights but urged Muslims to avoid the event, saying the man’s views could provoke “animosity and enmity.”

“That’s not what we should be embracing coming out of Ramadan,” Walid said, referring to the holy month for Muslims.

In a statement Wednesday, Al Kresta, president and CEO of Ave Maria Communications, said the event is “a public debate, not a one-sided propaganda fest.”

“Those attending will better understand each side and will be less willing to hastily prejudge one side or the other,” he said.

Other speakers expected at the event include Shadid Lewis, a regional director of the Muslim Debate Initiative, and Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, organizers said. A Mass with Diocese of Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea is scheduled to follow.

Registration is $40 and includes a box lunch and parking. Clergy and student rates are available.

To register or for information, go to or call (734) 930-5201.


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