Friday, December 23, 2011

The 700 Club Interviews Kamal Saleem

My first introduction to Christian speaker Kamal Saleem was through videos of TheCall Detroit this November, where Saleem claimed to be a former Muslim terrorists who now embraced Christ and Israel. To my surprise, I discovered that Saleem has been featured several times on The 700 Club, painting Islam in ominous colors. Saleem's anti-Islam message, it seems, was in circulation long before TheCall Detroit.

On November 25th, The 700 Club rebroadcast a segment on Kamal Saleem from a May 13th, 2011 show, available at www[dot]cbn[dot]com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/archive/club/700Club112511_WS&search=Saleem&p=1&parent=0&subnav=false. In the interview, Saleem spoke of his upbringing in Lebanon, claiming that his parents raised him to be a martyr for the cause of jihad. At the 18:18 mark, he quoted his mother as follows.

"From my childhood, my mom said 'One day you'll be a martyr, my son. You will die for the sake of Allah and you will exalt Islam.' She said, 'If you kill a Jew, my son, your hand will light up before the throne of Allah, and the host of heaven will celebrate what you have done.'"
Saleem's parent allegedly sent him to Muslim training camps beginning at age seven, where he learned to use weapons and engage in "culture jihad." At the 19:02 mark, he describes such "culture jihad" as such.

"In Islam, liberty, freedom, monarchy, all these are idols, and these must be brought down, so the liberty that you have in the United States of America, it's anti-Islam, you know, so America must be changed. So I moved to the Bible belt, specifically. The Bible belt was the strongest of the strongest. That's where the stout Christians are, and I want[ed] to take on the best of the best, because I considered myself as a sword of Islam."
According to his narrative, Saleem moved to the U.S. and targeted men in his neighborhood for recruitment into Islam. After a devastating car accident which left him with a broken neck, he was treated by Christian medical professions and nursed back to health in the home of a Christian orthopedic surgeon. Saleem was touched by the doctor's compassion, but also confused to see that Christians were good people instead of enemies.

In his confusion, Saleem prayed fervently to Allah, begging to hear Allah's voice but receiving only silence. Then, he allegedly heard a voice saying his name, calling him to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Did anyone bother to tell Saleem that Allah and the god of Abraham are the same?) The glory of the God of Abraham filled the room, and he beheld a vision of Jesus with holes in his hands and feet, he claimed. Amazed, Saleem vowed to die for Jesus, but Jesus said no, as Jesus had already died for him. 

This was not the first time The 700 Club had featured Saleem. In a 2009 face-to-face interview with Pat Robertson, Saleem discussed his alleged involvement with the PLO, encounters with Saudi financial patrons, and his autobiography, Blood of Lambs. (See www[dot]cbn[dot]com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/SUS118_KamalSaleem_041409&search=Saleem&p=1&parent=0&subnav=false)

At the 2:54 mark, Saleem made the dubious claim that martyrs for Islam become "messiahs" who can intercede for their family members' entrance into paradise.

"The first reward when you--the first drop of blood, you become the savior, the messiah, almost the intercessor, and you become intercessor for seventy of your family members. These will go to heaven without judgment because the Quran teaches that everybody will have to go to hell first, pass through it, and then they will have to go through heaven."
As discussed in a previous post, Saleem's words have not gone unquestioned by observers. For instance, Haroon Moghul offered scathing criticism of Saleem's questionable statements about Islam at TheCall Detroit, while Sakil Saghir dissected Saleem's October 2011 presentation at the Midland Center for the Arts. Similarly, Chris Hedges, Doug Howard, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have also looked askance at some of Saleem's more colorful assertions. Whether Saleem's statements are true or not, several observers have found him less that credible.

Kamal Saleem's recurring presence on The 700 Club served a transparent purpose: to glorify Christianity and disparage Islam as a bellicose religion. As with TheCall Detroit, his presence on The 700 Club suggests a certain distaste for Islam by those who invited him, and a certain willingness to depict Muslims as "other." While terrorism and religious extremism are very real, we need credible information in order to resist them. And, we must resist them in a way that does not demonize all who follow Islam.

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

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