Controversial speaker during Constitution Week talks Islam, Sharia Law |

Controversial speaker during Constitution Week talks Islam, Sharia Law

Police called to observe crowd during speech

Grand County resident Phil Pankey gives the invocation prior to the start of Deena's talk on Islam and Sharia Law last Wednesday night in Grand Lake.
Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News |

Grand Lake’s annual Constitution Week wrapped up Saturday after a week of presentations, celebrations and controversy over a mid-week talk on Islam and Sharia Law, which sparked an impassioned debate from attendees.

The majority of topics for this year’s event were fairly staid affairs with cerebral subjects regarding the founding fathers, foreign affairs and the Articles of Confederation. On Wednesday night, however, a female speaker from Dearborn, Mich., drew a sizeable crowd for her speech entitled, “Is Sharia Law Compatible with the U.S. Constitution?”

The speaker was said to run a nonprofit entity that ostensibly provides vocational, linguistic, health and counseling services to local Muslim and immigrant communities while secretly functioning as a Christian ministry to Muslims. She was identified on Constitution Week literature as Deena from Dearborn, director of a ministry to Muslims.

“Deena,” a white woman, refused to provide her real name or that of her Michigan-based nonprofit. She explained that she believed her life would be in danger if Muslims in her community were aware of her activities and analogized herself to Salman Rushdie, a British Indian essayist who faced death threats from the Muslim community after penning the controversial book, “The Satanic Verses.”

Deena’s presentation covered Sharia Law, Islam in a somewhat general sense, and her personal beliefs on Islam, Muslims and what she described as an existential war between Islam and the West.

Several times during the presentation, Deena said that the West is at war with Islam, though not individual Muslims.

“I am differentiating between Islam and Muslims,” she told the large crowd inside the former Grand Lake Elementary, the venue of the speaking engagement.

Deena began her presentation with a few qualifications. She stated she typically does not speak at open public events, but felt safe doing so in Grand County, “because you don’t have any Muslims in the area,” as she explained. She went on to say that she also does not engage in debates on the subjects she spoke to and added that there would be only a few references to the U.S. Constitution during her talk — despite being held during Constitution Week.

“Since you have intensively studied the U.S. Constitution, I am focusing on Sharia Law,” Deena said. “You can make that connection yourself. Ask if that is compatible with the U.S. Constitution and American law.”

At one point during the presentation, one man spoke out, criticizing the title of the speech, and asserting that everyone in attendance knew Sharia was incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.

Tom Goodfellow, the event’s organizer, took the microphone and asked the individual to wait until the presentation was over to pose questions.

Grand County Dispatch call logs from the evening show a deputy from the sheriff’s office was called to the facility after the man’s interruption. The deputy stood quietly outside the venue’s door after responding, but was otherwise uninvolved in proceedings.

Denna went on to outline her view that violence stemming from Islam and Muslim beliefs is on the rise, worldwide, and many Westerners do not view the struggle in realistic terms because of “insidious control given in the name of tolerance and diversity.”

She then proceeded to cover several elements of Sharia Law, quoting specific passages from the Quran, the Islamic holy book. During her speech, she referenced the Islamic tradition of Taqiya, which grants Muslims the right to deny or conceal their faith in the face of persecution, which she used to describe Muslims as being more than unscrupulous.

“Sharia mandates that Muslims cheat and lie,” Deena extolled. “I have found for Muslims this is as natural as breathing. You can meet a Muslim in the street and they smile, but inwardly he or she is cursing you.”

Deena, who said she often works with abused women, went on to discuss Sharia provisions that allow Muslim men to beat their wives and women in general. She also spent time discussing provisions within Sharia that mandate women wear coverings such as a niqabs.

Other topics for the evening included Jihad, Islamic dietary restrictions, the Muslim community of Dearborn and the potential assimilation of Muslim immigrants in the United States. Deena’s nonprofit previously offered citizenship classes, but those particular classes have since been suspended.

“To try to make them American, it will never happen,” she told the crowd. “It will never happen because of Sharia Law. I don’t want them becoming citizens.”

Deena explicitly said she views opposition to Islam as an existential fight, calling Islam the single most severe threat to the survival of our nation — the religion entirely, not “radicalized Islamic fundamentalists.”

“What I have told you is not radical Islam. This is what all Muslims believe,” she insisted. “There is no end in site, but we have the tools and knowledge to incrementally and strategically defeat this enemy. It is no longer a matter of choice. We are at that stage, and that stage is called battle for survival. If you don’t do it you will be enslaved and die.”

After Deena’s presentation concluded, a lively question and answer session followed with several citizens questioning the woman’s views while others voiced hearty support. She closed the evening with a disclaimer.

“I don’t hate Muslims,” Deena said. “Muslims know I love them. I agree on building bridges. It is a matter of being taken advantage of. If you don’t know what a dhimmī is, you will be one.”

A dhimmī is a historical term referring to non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state. The word literally means “protected person.”

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