‘Son of Hamas’ returns to Auburn

Message of forgiveness important, resident says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A man who has witnessed the conflict in the Middle East is coming to Auburn again next week. Mosab Hassan Yousef was born in Ramallah in the West Bank, and is the son of one of the founders of Hamas, Sheikh Hassan Yousef. The Israeli government arrested and incarcerated Mosab Yousef for his role in Hamas, and he was recruited to work for Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service. Yousef later converted to Christianity from Islam, and immigrated to the United States in 2007. Yousef’s 2010 New York Times Best Seller List autobiography “Son of Hamas” was recently published in Arabic. The book states that Yousef’s work with Shin Bet averted terrorist attacks and saved Israeli and Palestinian lives. Yousef is scheduled to speak for the second time at 6:30 p.m. March 16 at Calvary Chapel Auburn. Yousef first spoke at the church Sept. 4. Calvary Chapel Pastor Greg Denham said he was excited to have Yousef back. “I think he has something really important to say,” Denham said. “He was here six months ago, and think of how the world has changed and is changing. It’s one thing to see nations doing their best to replace political systems. His concern is the ideology that spawned those systems. The reality is he feels once transparency comes into play that bad ideology that oppresses people and nations cannot survive.” Denham said Yousef is a unique individual and speaker. “He is kind of a one-man show,” Denham said. “He is not leading some slick propaganda campaign. He’s not a leader of an army that is forcing ideas down people’s throats. He really is a unique guy because he understands the DNA of ideology, and he wants to see his own Palestinian people reach their goals of freedom. The question is, how do you get there?” Denham said he has several things he hopes to ask Yousef about. “I think the first question I would ask him is the last six months so much has changed in the world, and people are dying to know what he thinks of that change and where he thinks it will end up,” he said. “We want to continue to tell his story, which I think is one of the most inspiring, courageous stories that exists today. I also want to ask him where he goes from here and what he feels his calling is at this time.” Denham said he thinks Yousef has a lot to offer the community of Auburn. “He is on the front lines of the global conflict,” he said. “In terms of how it applies to us, I think we have a whole lot to learn from him with regard to forgiveness, with regard to courage, with regard to truth.” Weimar resident Lee Kerschner, who studies the Middle East, said he hopes to attend the presentation. “Though (Yousef) is the son of one of the founders (of Hamas) he has distanced himself from Hamas,” Kerschner said. “He doesn’t support Hamas. That I found most interesting. I suspect he’s an interesting speaker.” Auburn resident Brian Whigam said Yousef’s message of forgiving each other had a deep impact on him during the September presentation. “I learned (about) a person who was in the middle of a crisis, of seeing extremists and seeing Israel fighters, and a person who was in the middle of a conflict, and how his heart changed as far as realizing people’s lives are valued,” Whigam said. “Really for him to share with 1,300 people and for everybody to be a very good audience, to listen to what he had to share, he captivated me. He captivated us as far as his humility, his heart that he had.” Foresthill resident Taylor Shepherd, 17, who attends Sierra College, said he was inspired by Yousef’s life story. “The fact that he went completely against everything he was raised to be … to do what he thought was right, I thought that was incredible,” Shepherd said. Whigam said he walked away from the September event with a better understanding of those who practice Islam. “One-thousand-three-hundred people learned what extreme Muslim extremists are,” he said. “He also explained what peaceful Muslims are and the difference. That was a huge thing I got out of what he taught in that area.” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------- Mosab Hassan Yousef at Calvary Chapel Auburn When: Doors open at 6 p.m., presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. March 16 Where: Calvary Chapel Auburn, 1101 Auburn Ravine Road, Auburn Cost: Free Information: (530) 885-6332 “Son of Hamas” information: Visit or