Tawfik Hamid says he once was a terrorist. But some local Muslims wonder whether it is true.

If it is, they ask, why would anyone invite him to speak about Islam?

Hamid, a medical doctor, spoke at the Jewish Community Center on Tuesday under auspices of the Zionist Organization of America.

“The point is that his mission is just to tell people about Islam, about the dangers of the terrorists,” said Maya Veprinsky, executive director of the Zionist Organization of America. “He understood the dangers and stepped out from them.”

Hamid said Tuesday: “The most critical aspect of the phenomenon of violent Islam probably is not a terrorist act, it is the threat to our freedom, because if we let this teaching of violence and teaching of hatred grow and grow more than this, one day we will lose our freedom.”

Hamid asserts that he once was a member of a banned terrorist organization, Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya — The Islamic Group — in Egypt and that he trained under Ayman al-Zawahiri, who now is considered the second-in-charge of al-Qaida.

Advocates for the civil rights of Muslims and Arab-Americans criticized giving Hamid a platform.

“The point is that it’s not a question of Islam being reformed, as Dr. Hamid states,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on Islamic Relations in Michigan.

“It is a question of some Muslims who need to be reformed.”

Hamid also lacks the training to “just take it upon himself as an entrepreneur to criticize our holy texts, as he sees fit,” he said.


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