A city in Michigan has invited an Islamist who has declared homosexuals to be cursed and Jews to have "incurred the wrath of Allah" to speak at a "diversity dinner" later this week. The Diversity Distinction Awards dinner, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 14, is organized by Sterling Heights's Ethnic Community Committee. Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), will give the keynote speech.
Walid has a well-documented history of promoting antisemitism and Islamist extremism. His invitation to a dinner to celebrate diversity is remarkable given his advice to Muslims who work as diversity officers at public institutions.
In 2021 he told attendees of the of Islamic Circle of North America's (ICNA) annual convention that Muslims who work in such positions should adhere to Islamic practices over the policies of their employers. He offered this warning after he was asked how Muslims should respond when asked to promote advertising for the "LGBPTQ lifestyle."
"It depends on the type of job. If it's part of your job to be a diversity officer then a tough decision has to be made," he said. People can either protect their jobs and share the information, knowing that they are sinning, or they can object to promoting it on religious grounds at the risk of losing their job, he said.
"It's better not to share the information," Walid said, "because to do so would "normalize or celebrate what Allah and his messenger have not only prohibited but also consider as a curse," he said. "We are talking about certain things that are not simply prohibited, but it is said in the Quran and [in a reliable Hadith] that it's a curse."
Walid has also said hostile things about Jews. In a May 2012 sermon he asked, "Who are those who incurred the wrath of Allah?" Answering his question in Arabic, he declared, "They are the Jews, they are the Jews." In January 2012, Walid declared that a follower of Muhammad who called for the mass killing of Jews (which the Qur'an recounts) had made the correct ruling.
Walid has also condemned the FBI for the 2009 shooting death of Detroit Imam Luqman Abdullah who fired at law enforcement officers during a warehouse raid. A federal investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved.
Melanie D. Davis, Sterling Heights community relations director, defended its decision to have Walid give the keynote speech at the event. The Ethnic Community Committee holds the dinner to recognize "individuals and businesses who promote understanding among residents of all different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds" and work to integrate "people from diverse backgrounds into the workplace" she said in an emailed statement.
"Varied groups are awarded each year, and this year is no different, including a business who is being awarded for creation of their employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees," she said.
Gerald McDermott, retired from the Anglican Chair at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Al., expressed astonishment at the committee's decision to invite Walid in light of his statements about homosexuality and Jews.
"This is a man who has correctly said that Islam calls same-sex relations not only prohibited but a curse," he said. "He has also said that Jews are under the wrath of Allah and that it is correct for a Muslim to call for the mass killing of Jews. It beggars belief that a Diversity Dinner would invite a speaker who not only tolerates the killing of innocents but is religiously opposed to the convictions of today's 'Diversity' agenda."
Dexter Van Zile is managing editor of the Middle East Forum publication Focus on Western Islamism.