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Kevin Wallevand, Forum News Service, Published March 05 2013

Two Perham exchange students kicked out of church event

PERHAM, Minn. - Two exchange students attending school in Perham say they were kicked out of a church there when they questioned a nationally known speaker who says "Islam equals terrorism."

The two teenagers are Muslim, and attended the event featuring "Walid Shoebat," a Muslim turned Christian.

Fikri Rahmat, from Indonesia, and Elshan Mirzazade, from Azerbhjan, came to the United States as exchange students. Their home right now is Perham and host Mary Anderson. When the students heard Walid Shoebat was speaking at a public forum at Assembly of God, they wanted to go.

Shoebat is known as a former Muslim, now Christian, speaking out against Islam.

"Our message is not to argue with him but to say to people that what he says is wrong," Mirzazade said.

The boys heard what they say are mis-truths and distortions coming out of Shoebat, and so during question and answer time, they questioned Shoebat, and quickly were told to leave.

"He got mad because he was afraid of the truth, one of his assistants said, 'Out, Out.' Rudely said to us," Rahmat said.

"They ushered us out and asked us to leave and I shouted, 'Good way of promoting peace, bravo, bravo,'" Mirzazade said.

"I want people to know we love Muslims."

Dirk Currier, pastor of Assembly of God in Perham, said "Nobody was kicked out because they were Muslim.

Currier said the boys were asked to leave when emotions escalated.

"It was not a dialogue," Currier said. "It was turning into a shouting match.

"I thought I was sending my boys to a house of love," said Mary Anderson, the host mother of the boys. "And i am disappointed that hate was being taught there."

But the two boys did their homework. And found Shoebat's credibility and so called expertise on terrorism has been questioned for some time.

CNN has investigated Shoebat. Homeland Security has given Shoebat grant money for anti-terrorism speechs around the country. The investigation questions Shoebats claim that he was a former PLO terrorist. Family and friends say he claims this for personal gain. No truth to it. The boys hope others will learn from their experience. Unfortunate as it was.

Both exchange students are here as part of a special international program that educates Americans about other cultures and religions - and helps international students learn about life in America.