A Muslim cleric with ties to Hamas will not speak at a Friday night fundraiser in Kansas, after the Islamic Society that was to host him acceded to a lawmaker's request that they cancel the event.
"We have cancelled our fundraising dinner for our organization tonight and apologize for any concern our speaker may have caused," the Islamic Society of Wichita's statement said. "We meant no disrespect to our Christian brothers and sisters in asking him to speak during this solemn Easter season."
Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo called for the group to cancel Sheik Monzer Talib's speech, citing the cleric's "long history of association with radical Islam," including an alleged role in funding Hamas, which the State Department has designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The group initially shortened the Friday schooldays after news of the event gave rise to threats of a protest, and eventually cancelled the event entirely.
Pompeo allowed that the Islamic Society of Wichita has a First Amendment right to host the cleric, but faulted the organization for failing to publish a condemnation of the Brussels terrorist attack.
"[R]ather than make clear that violence in the name of Allah is always wrong, the Islamic Society of Wichita has chosen the day when millions of Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross to bring a cleric who has claimed his commitment to Hamas to lead their services," he said. "The leaders of the ISW surely know what they are doing in bringing this hateful man to help them raise money on this day so important to Christians.
"While I do not know their motives, I do know that they should reconsider. The ISW can help everyone focus on uniting all faiths against such barbarism — this scheduled event does exactly the opposite."
A local media outlet reported that "a group called Kansas Security Forces planned to protest the event [and] could have been heavily armed," which alarmed the Muslim organization.
"Certainly the threat of heavily-armed protesters is alarming, and we do not want to be the target of anything that may negatively impact our families or our neighboring Luther[a]n church and its congregants," the ISW statement said. "It is important for the people of Wichita to know that we do not support terrorism and do not condone any association with terrorist organizations."