Video: Baptist minister defends sign
The "Allah is Satan" debate is on again.
Dawud Salaam of Gautier, who describes himself as a community activist, has agreed to debate Cowan Road Baptist Church pastor Chris Ashley at 6 p.m. Saturday at the church.
"I'm an African-American and a Muslim and I love the community," Salaam said.
The debate was sparked by a sign Ashley put up at the Gulfport church that said "Allah is Satan; Jesus is God."
Bilal ibn Jimmy Stroud of Atlanta challenged Ashley to the debate in late November, but said Monday he wanted to move the debate so it wouldn't conflict with the Christmas season. He suggested having it in early January.
"I am certainly confused as to why you would back out at this point, after so many phone calls demanding a debate, by stating December was 'a very important time for Christians around the world for they celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ,'" Ashley wrote in an email to Stroud. "I agree with the fact that Christmas is very important to us, but question your true motives. First, we set the date just nine days away from December. So, am I to assume you forgot December was so close.
"Secondly, I find any time a good time to stand on the truth of our Holy Bible and contend for our Lord and Savior Jesus the Son of God."
The email exchange included an argument over the release to the media of voice messages left on the church's phone, the pastor's contention they contained a "veiled threat" and a threatening Facebook post that could not be verified.
"All of these incidents contributed to an environment whereby the well-being and safety of the Muslim and the wider Gulfport community could be jeopardized," Stroud said in the email exchange. "I and the Muslim community do not nor do we intend to carry out nor do we condone any event or situation that may contribute to societal unrest."
Ashley said he has made too many arrangements to stop the debate now.
"There's been much work done at this point and to reschedule is senseless," he said in the email to Stroud. "If you wish not to show, that is obviously your choice. I have lined up local news anchors to moderate, set up online viewing schedules, travel arrangements have been made by attendees, etc."
Ashley also said he has heard no threats of violence.
"We have been taught by the media and people like yourself that the religion of Islam is a religion of peace, so I assume you have not heard of a desire of violence from your people," Ashley said in an email to Stroud. "Why would this be an issue and a reason to cancel?"