Last week, Robert Escamilla, former Enloe High School teacher, filed a lawsuit against the Wake County school system for a wrongful transfer. To hear Escamilla and his supporters tell it, the popular instructor was removed from Enloe for being a Christian.
The teacher, who now works at a Wake alternative school, lost his position at Enloe after he brought in a class speaker who railed against Muslims.
But ever since this uproar kicked up in February, I’ve wondered just what was said by this speaker, Kamil Solomon, an Egyptian native who says he was persecuted for his faith in Egypt.
Escamilla has appeared on national news programs, but Solomon has shied from the spotlight, refusing interviews.
But on Saturday night, he spoke to another group. He gave a presentation at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in North Raleigh as part of a “Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Worldwide.” The talk was open to the public. A dozen people attended.
It was not identical to the presentation he gave at Enloe. In front of the high school class, he told more of his personal story, of having been abducted and tortured for promulgating his Christian faith.
On Saturday night, he focused on passages in the Quran advocating violence as well what he considers the dark side behind Muhammad’s history. And he followed it with grisly slides of what he said were the victims of Muslim terrorists.
He decried the Muslim faith and its followers. Though Solomon is small in stature, and gentle — almost skittish — in demeanor, his assertions were so sweeping and shocking I thought perhaps I misunderstood.
Solomon spoke knowing that I was there. Afterward, I introduced myself and asked him whether I missed his making a distinction between the extremists and other Muslims. Surely, I said, there are true believers in the Muslim faith who live good lives, who do good works.
Solomon’s wife gave a derisive snort. Solomon shook his head sadly. All Muslims, he said, are secretly in favor of jihad. They might not say so publicly, but they support the terrorists with their money or at least their prayers.
They might seem like decent people who are good neighbors, who love their children and work hard. But make no mistake, Solomon warned, they are waiting for the moment when they can take over our country.
A friend of Solomon’s told me that after the Enloe controversy, Solomon feared that, even though he is an American citizen, he would be thrown out of the country. That is a fear brought from his homeland, no doubt. In America, you can say whatever hateful things you want — just not to a captive audience in the public schools.
Some folks have wondered whether, if Escamilla had lined up a Muslim speaker immediately to offer a counterpoint to Solomon’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, the controversy might have been muted. I’m not sure — not in post-9/11 America. Not while we’re waging war against a Muslim country.
That is not to say that Escamilla’s case has been handled appropriately. But having listened to Kamil Solomon, I can tell you this: Escamilla wasn’t disciplined for being a Christian.
He was disciplined for inviting hate speech into a public school classroom.