Video: Boise Interfaith Community Stages Silent Demonstration Against Anti-Muslim, Anti-Immigration Pastor at Statehouse 

click to enlarge - Michal Voloshen (left): "We're all children of immigrants." -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Michal Voloshen (left): "We're all children of immigrants."

Anti-Islam, anti-refugee pastor Shahram Hadian opened his presentation at the Idaho Statehouse the evening of Jan. 14 with a prayer, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and a statement about the points he and Center for Security Policy Vice President Christopher Holton were about to cover.

"I will be addressing some legitimate national security concerns, legitimate economic concerns and legitimate ideological concerns," Hadian said.

Outside the auditorium, nearly 100 members of Boise's Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious denominations participating in a silent protest weren't buying it. For Michal Voloshen, joining members of Congregation Ahavath-Beth Israel, her primary reaction to Hadian's presentation was "outrage."

"We're all children of immigrants," she said.
click to enlarge - Shahram Hadian -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Shahram Hadian

Hadian, an Iranian-born Muslim who converted to Christianity, has traveled the Northwest delivering talks on what he claims is the existential threat Islam and Sharia law pose to the United States. Nearly 150 members of the public and a handful of legislators attended. One attendee, Geri McCann, of Palmer, Alaska, stepped outside the auditorium to address those protesting against Hadian's anti-Islam message.

"So why don't you come in and learn, and hear about Jesus. Isn't that what it's all about?" McCann said. "But if they're going to shoot me for being a Christian or a Jew, oh, Lord, that's a whole new level. You guys are, like, stone faced. There's no emotion. 

"If they send thousands of men of army age, why don't they bring the women and the children? That's who we need to be bringing in," she added.

In the hall, members of the Boise State University Muslim Student Alliance expressed their concern with Hadian's message. 

"It's uneducated," said Hakeem Muhamad, a recent Boise State graduate. "It's dangerous as well. This is rhetoric that is biased. How much credibility does this guy have?"

Other members echoed Muhamad's worry that Hadian's message enabled xenophobia. Noora Muhamad, a Boise State student and Kurdish refugee from Iraq, said she and other Muslim women she knows have been verbally harassed on account of their faith. 

"If I come in with a Hijab [head scarf], I could be attacked," said Muhamad, who is vice president of the Boise State Muslim Student Association.

click to enlarge - Members of the Boise State University Muslim Student Alliance. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Members of the Boise State University Muslim Student Alliance.
The debate over refugees in Idaho has reached a fever pitch in recent months. Two referenda have circulated in Twin Falls County calling for the closure of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center. Opponents of the center have called it a gateway for terrorism. In November, a demonstration at the Statehouse attracted hundreds of allies, as well as enemies, of the center.

The Twin Falls Times-News reported Jan. 11 that only 219 signatures of the required 3,842 had been certified by the Twin Falls county clerk's office and, according to Twin Falls County Clerk Kristina Glascock, the group may consider putting its initiative on the November, rather than May, ballot.
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