One group of Independence residents has made good on its promise to ask a City Council-appointed commission to take a harder look at the content of this year’s Human Relations Commission.

One group of Independence residents has made good on its promise to ask a City Council-appointed commission to take a harder look at the content of this year’s Human Relations Commission.

For now, though, the commission says it will just look at the information given during a presentation Tuesday evening.

Six weeks after Kamal Saleem, a self-proclaimed ex-terrorist who converted from Islam to Christianity, gave the keynote speech before 600 attendees at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, the Human Relations Commission has voted to further review the information presented to it by a group of concerned citizens.

The Rev. Josef Walker and James Everett, both Independence residents, along with the Rev. Brian Morse and Shakil Haider, chairman of the Midland Islamic Council, spoke before the commission Tuesday night and requested a critical assessment of Saleem’s speech.

Walker said points made in Saleem’s speech were inaccurate and bigoted toward Muslims.

Mayor Don Reimal, in an interview with The Examiner, disagreed with the critics.

“I don’t know what they heard, because I have talked to a lot of people who heard nothing that upset them,” Reimal said. “They heard nothing but ‘love your neighbor, take care of the poor, the hungry and the homeless.’”

Still, Walker said, he wants people to critically assess Saleem’s speech and not just take what was said at face value.  

Walker said he is hopeful that council members will make changes on how the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is planned in future years, including naming at least one non-Christian to the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Planning Committee.

“I think that impacts the planning, and I think that impacts the format,” Walker said of having a primarily Christian-based planning committee. “With broader representation and with a more inclusive approach, you would have never chosen someone to get up and say hateful and inaccurate statements about Muslims or any other religion.”

Again, Reimal disagreed.

“I have yet to talk to anybody outside of (Walker and Everett) who have found anything to be upset about,” Reimal said. “The decision (of choosing a speaker) was made by the committee, and the committee stands behind their decision.”

Walker, the pastor of an area Christian church, said he believes a solution to his ongoing concerns is near.

“I anticipate that the mayor and the council and the planning committee, when they have time to really reflect on what was said and done at the prayer breakfast, that they will make some kind of statement that they will avoid that kind of speech in the future,” Walker said. “I expect that they will make the planning committee more inclusive. I would like to think that we’re not very far from that resolution.”