Islamic Society of Wichita cancels speaking event after Pompeo protests

Islamic Society of Wichita mosque
Islamic Society of Wichita mosque File photo

The Islamic Society of Wichita has canceled a fundraising dinner and a speech it had planned for Friday evening, after U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., objected.

Pompeo issued a statement questioning why the society had invited Sheik Monzer Talib, who Pompeo said has ties to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic political party that has an armed wing of the same name.

Pompeo said he understands the society’s First Amendment right to invite him, but said having him here would hurt the community.

Hussam Madi, a spokesman for the society, said it apologizes “for any concern our speaker may have caused. We meant no disrespect to our Christian brothers and sisters in asking him to speak during this solemn Easter season.”

In a statement, Madi said the society canceled the event in part because it had heard that an armed group planned to show up outside the Islamic Society’s buildings to protest.

“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 Lutheran church and its congregants,” Madi 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. It is our hope that this community knows of our commitment to Wichita, its people, and its prosperity.”

Roy Wenzl: 316-268-6219, @roywenzl