Dave Agema is a former Michigan state representative who served as majority caucus chair as a Republican party member. Agema was elected as the national committeeman from Michigan to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in May 2012. In early 2015, the RNC's executive committee censured Agema and asked Michigan Republicans “to investigate a means to have the state party remove him.”
In early 2014, Agema made anti-Muslim comments on his Facebook account: "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”
In response to these and other anti-minority comments Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and state party Chairman Bobby Schostak both called on Agema to resign.
While in the Michigan legislature, Agema introduced legislation targeting Islam for unequal treatment in relation to other faiths. The bill’s text was patterned on Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts. In explaining why he felt his bill was important, he told the Grand Rapids Press, "They [Muslims] want specific laws applied to their specific groups ... They do not want to be under our law."
Agema brought Kamal Saleem to testify in support of the legislation. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation reported in 2008 that Saleem worked for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network for 16 years and in 2006 launched Koome Ministries with the mission to "expose the true agenda of [Muslims] who would deceive our nation and the free nations of the world." His bizarre claim that "in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam" promoted Calvin College history professor Douglas Howard to investigate Saleem's background. [NOTE: The title "Grand Wazir of Islam" has never existed.] "I concluded this person is a fraud," said Howard after his investigation into Saleem's claims.
Agema believes, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but just about every terrorist is a Muslim. I disagree that Islam is a religion of peace.”Agema has also claimed that Obama is a secret Muslim.
In comments he made regarding legislation addressing undocumented workers, Agema stated, "We have the largest concentration of Muslims in the state in the Dearborn area. I know we have (sleeper) cells there. That is what I really want to get at."
By Ibrahim Hooper
[Note: This op-ed was originally distributed in 2007. Its anti-prejudice message is particularly relevant in the wake of the abominable terrorist attack in Paris.]
During last year’s protests over publication of the Danish cartoons designed to insult the Prophet Muhammad, I wrote a commentary called “What Would Muhammad Do?”
Given the ongoing controversy over the jailing of British teacher Gillian Gibbons in the Sudan for “insulting Islam,” perhaps it is time to remind us all how the Prophet himself reacted to insults, both real and perceived.
Even if Ms. Gibbons had the intent to cause insult, which does not seem to be the case, Islamic traditions include a number of instances in which the Prophet had the opportunity to retaliate against those who abused him, but refrained from doing so.
“You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
That description of the Prophet Muhammad is a summary of how he reacted to personal attacks and abuse.
Muslims are taught the tradition of the woman who would regularly throw trash on the prophet as he walked down a particular path. The prophet never responded in kind to the woman’s abuse. Instead, when she one day failed to attack him, he went to her home to inquire about her condition.
In another tradition, the prophet was offered the opportunity to have God punish the people of a town near Mecca who refused the message of Islam and attacked him with stones. Again, the prophet did not choose to respond in kind to the abuse.
A companion of the prophet noted his forgiving disposition. He said: “I served the prophet for ten years, and he never said ‘uf’ (a word indicating impatience) to me and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Even when the prophet was in a position of power, he chose the path of kindness and reconciliation.
When he returned to Mecca after years of exile and personal attacks, he did not take revenge on the people of the city, but instead offered a general amnesty.
In the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, God states: “When (the righteous) hear vain talk, they withdraw from it saying: ‘Our deeds are for us and yours for you; peace be on to you. We do not desire the way of the ignorant’. . .O Prophet (Muhammad), you cannot give guidance to whom you wish, it is God Who gives guidance to whom He pleases, and He is quite aware of those who are guided.” (28:55-56)
The Quran also says: “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.” (16:125)
Another verse tells the prophet to “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)
These are the examples that Muslims should follow as they express concern at the publication of insulting cartoons or at misperceived actions of a well-meaning teacher.
After the Danish cartoon controversy and allegations of Quran desecration at Guantanamo Bay, CAIR initiated educational campaigns as a peaceful, constructive response. This is an approach that people of all faiths can appreciate, as it helps us move toward respect and religious tolerance.
This most recent episode can be used as a learning opportunity for people of all faiths who wish to promote mutual understanding. It can also be viewed as a “teaching moment” for Muslims who want to emulate the Prophet through the example of their good character and dignified behavior.
As the Quran states: “It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)
This week’s unfortunate incident in the Sudan points to the need for an increased level of dialogue between ordinary people in the Muslim world and the West.
The complaint brought against Gillian Gibbons was an inappropriate use of Sudan’s legal system to deal with what was in essence a disagreement between parents and a teacher. Ms. Gibbons should never have been charged. She should be released immediately.
This website is a project of CAIR's Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia.