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'Son of Hamas' author to speak in Auburn

Mosab Hassan Yousef's visit arranged by Calvary Chapel
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The Middle East conflict will have a face and voice this weekend in Auburn. Palestinian Mosab Hassan Yousef, author of the autobiography, “Son of Hamas,” will be the guest speaker at Calvary Chapel Saturday. Calvary Chapel Pastor Greg Denham arranged the visit to bring Yousef’s inspirational and thought-provoking story to parishioners and the public. “I first heard about him when Fox News did an interview with him in 2008,” Denham said Tuesday. “Ever since, I’ve wanted him to come to our city.” In his book, which was published earlier this year and became a New York Times bestseller, Yousef describes growing up in Gaza as the son of one of the founders of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic political party with an armed wing of the same name. He tells about his unique window into the Palestinian power structure, his involvement in Hamas, arrest and incarceration by the Israelis and then being recruited by the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet. The book goes on to describe how, over a period of years, Yousef’s reporting to Shin Bet averted terrorist attacks and saved many lives. And it discusses his conversion from Islam to Christianity. “He sat in meetings with Yasser Arafat (now deceased leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization). He saw a bunch of corruption and wanted to do something about it,” Denham said. “He did it by esteeming life first.” The U.S. government recently dropped a deportation case against Yousef after his Israeli handler traveled to the U.S. to testify on his behalf, Denham said. The pastor is planning a casual interview-style format, giving Yousef the opportunity to provide an insider’s perspective behind the headlines of the war on terrorism. “We’re going to talk about (Yousef’s) unique family,” Denham said. “We’re going to talk about the struggle in the Middle East and the core problems there. We’re going to discuss his fight to value life and the courage he demonstrated and how he became calibrated when he read the (Bible) about Christ saying love and forgiveness.” Denham arranged the speaking engagement earlier this summer through Yousef’s public relations representatives. “It moved pretty quickly,” he said. “He hasn’t spoken to a lot of places. He’s been in major media outlets.” Yousef speaks at a variety of venues — for churches, universities and civic groups, according to public relations spokeswoman Beverly Rykerd. “He spends time on speaking events and writing for his blog, sonofhamas.wordpress.com,” Rykerd said in an e-mail. “He has received a number of inquiries about the film rights to his book and is looking into that as well. Now that he can stay in the U.S., he has expressed an interest in pursuing a graduate degree.” Denham, who has visited Israel numerous times and closely follows Middle East developments, describes Yousef as an extraordinarily bright and fantastic speaker, charming and humble. “I feel we kind of owe him,” he said. “We owe him a thank you. I really believe that.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Son of Hamas author Mosab Hassan Yousef When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Where: Calvary Chapel, 1101 Auburn Ravine Road, Auburn Admission is free For more information: calvaryauburn.com or call (530) 885-6332