Michigan’s first ever Muslim candidate for governor caused controversy when he told his Republican opponent during a debate, "Muslims hate you."
Abdulrahman Mohamed El-Sayed is running as a Democrat in the August 7 primary. Michigan has the United States' highest concentration of Muslims and recently had a case involving a potential honor killing. Two metro Detroit doctors were also recently accused of carrying out female genital mutilation on four children.
As Leo Hohmann explains, the exchange began when, "Sayed refused to answer a question from the moderator about the Islamic legal system known as Sharia."
Sayed's Republican opponent Patrick Colbeck then complained that he was being smeared as an Islamophobe simply for being critical of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"They pitched this comment around my concern about the Muslim Brotherhood as a concern about Muslims in general. I love Muslims. It’s not an issue. The issue is about terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood," said Colbeck.
Sayed shot back by angrily accusing Colbeck of being a racist.
"What frustrates me more is not that you have blatant racism on the part of certain people, but what frustrates me more is in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, is not when bad people speak out but when good people fail to speak out, and what I have not heard is the Republicans on this panel, decisively and swiftly call out this kind of Islamophobia, this kind of racism, in the context that they are wanting to represent the state that has the highest per-capita number of Muslim Americans in the country," said Sayed.
He then explicitly told Colbeck that Muslims hate him.
"Now you may not hate Muslims, but I’ll tell you, Muslims definitely hate you!," said Sayed.
Dick Manasseri, spokesman for Secure Michigan, a group that has expressed concerns about the creeping encroachment of Sharia law, said Sayed came off second best in the exchange.
"Dr. Abdul definitely lost his cool," Manasseri said. "I think what we saw was an outburst. Abdul was not cool. Patrick is purposely trying to not make this his only issue, but when it comes up he’s not afraid to address it and Dr. Abdul showed he just can’t handle it. All he has in his bag of tricks is the canned response that everyone who asks about Sharia is a racist and an Islamophobe."
The Muslim Brotherhood connection with Sayed has been made because he served as vice president of the Muslim Student Association, which many accuse of being a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose goal is the worldwide establishment of Sharia law.
Philip Haney, a counter-terrorism expert and retired member of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Targeting Center, said Sayed's response to immediately hide behind identity politics when confronted by the question was predictable.
"He did what those guys tend to do, which is to change the narrative whenever the issue of Sharia comes up and make it about racism and so-called Islamophobia," Haney said. "But he showed his true colors there at the end. He’s not as slick as he thinks he is."
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