Protest planned for speaker in Aberdeen on Tuesday

Published: Sep. 17, 2018 at 10:53 PM CDT
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A controversial speaker invited to Aberdeen is expected to draw protests this week.

Allies of the Act! for America have invited Aynaz Anni Cyrus to South Dakota. She talks about being sold as a child bride.

"She came to America as a refugee to tell her story, and her story is what is it like to live under Islamic Law known as Sharia," said Senator Neal Tapio, Republican from Watertown.

Cyrus is a former Muslim who draws in crowds through her story. State Senator Neal Tapio is hosting Cyrus' visit.

"They come to the United States because the United States is the last beacon of hope for these people. We as Americans stick up for the underdog," Senator Tapio said.

But others have concerns about her message. They plan to protest her speech at Northern State University in Aberdeen on Tuesday.

Brown County Progressives for Change are leading the protest.

They say prominent organizations and think tanks have labeled Cyrus as an Islamophobic provocateur.

"She draws in her crowd by telling about her abhorrent childhood experience of being a child bride, however she goes on to demonize Islam and its followers, Muslims," said Taneeza Islam, SDVFP Executive Director.

Teneeza Islam says events such as these don't bring any good.

"These hateful events that instill fear and division in our communities not embolden communities as we are trying to do 2:08

The goal of the protest is to educate the community with the research they have done.

"South Dakotans need to understand this is an industry, an industry to instill fear, bigotry, and division," said Islam.

"Do you find any irony in the fact that the people that are protesting are protesting a person that actually spent time in a refugee camp," said Senator Tapio.

Northern State University says it granted a permit for the event in the spirit of free speech.