Orlando church offers its views on “The Truth about Political Islam.”

Encounter Church in Orlando has a copy of The Koran next to the American flag and some literarture on Islamic terrorism.

ORLANDO – Born and raised in Egypt, Usama Dakdok believes he knows a lot about the Koran and its teachings.  He’s studied the religious text of Islam, which Muslims hold is the divine guidance and moral direction for mankind, and the final revelation of God.

“I read the Koran, I studied the Koran, and I learned about Islam,” Dakdok said.

Dakdok was raised in a Christian household in a heavily Muslim country, and now lives in the United States, where he runs the Straight Way of Grace Ministry, a traveling church committed to preaching the glory of Jesus Christ as mankind’s savior – and, he noted “to tell the truth about Islam.”

It’s a truth, he said, that very few Muslims around the world truly understand, because in Dakdok’s view, not many actually bother to read the Koran and fully comprehend what it says. More often, he said, they blindly follow their political and religious leaders’ interpretations.

“My people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge,” Dakdok said.  “We all need to be educated.”

On Wednesday, Dakdok was the guest speaker at the Encounter Church, which opened its doors last August in a building at the corner of E. Robinson Street and Bumby Avenue in downtown Orlando.   The pastor, Blake Lorenz, said the new church welcomes guest speakers, particularly those who can help them spread the message that Christianity, not Islam, represents the true word of God. The church believes these are the end times, and the conflict between Christianity and Islam is going to grow even greater in the coming years.

“We need to get educated, don’t we?” Lorenz said. “We need to get educated – and act.”

As part of that, Encounter Church is starting a five week course, beginning next week, called “Behind The Veil.”

“It will talk about the historic truth that we’ve got a book written on Christianity, rather than the false message of Islam,” Lorenz said.

On Wednesday, Encounter Church also hosted Alan Korman, the Orlando chapter coordinator ACT! For America, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate Americans about what it sees as the threat of Islamic terrorism, and what its literarure calls the “tyranny of Islamofascism.”

ACT! believes a Jihad (Holy War) has been declared on America, and the people of this nation need to unite and fight back.

It was Korman who sponsored Dakdok’s speaking program at the church.

“We run the (Orlando) ACT! chapter and we’re trying to have speakers once a month,” Korman said.  “Usama was born in Egypt, and he understands the Muslim brotherhood and what they mean and how they are a threat to us in America.’

Dakdok said anyone can understand the message of the Koran if they simply read the book, which he has done.  But very few people, he said, take the time to do this, so the actual message of the Koran gets lost to millions.

“Islam is not what somebody claims, but what is written in the Koran,” he said.  “We get two completely separate versions.  Some say Islam is a peaceful and loving religion – ‘I love my neighbor.’  Some would say Islam is the most barbaric religion. Which one is right?”

He noted that in Indonesia, there are “210 million Muslims who have never read the Koran. You go to where they worship and they are chanting, and I say, ‘Do you know what you just said?’ They have no clue.”

The same is true of Muslims in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries, he said.

“None of these people know about Islam. They never learned it,” he said.

Dakdok said he and his church have adopted this mission themselves, “revealing the truth about Islam.  Why is it the truth?  That’s because it is in the book.  As long as this stuff is there, I’m going to teach it.”

Dakdok said the message is one of oppression, not a free exchange of ideas, cultures and religious and political differences.  This is particularly true in Europe today, he said, where cities are confrotning painful cultural and religious clashes as the Muslim population there grows.

“People like me 40 years ago spoke in churches in Europe, and 30 years later, Europe is crying out for help, and there is no help,” he said.  “The signs of protestors read ‘Democracy Go to Hell, Freedom Go to Hell.’  In Islam – no democracy. In Islam – no freedom.”

Christians, he said, need to understand their values and beliefs are being challenged, even threatened, by Islam.

“Jesus said ‘I will die and I will rise again,’ “ Dakdok said.  “Do Muslim people believe Jesus rose again? No. Muslims believe Jesus is a bad person, a blasphemer.” 

A parishioner at Encounter Church in Orlando demonstrates the message that Jesus is the true savior.

Korman said this is more than just an academic question for religious scholars.  He noted the case of Rifqa Bary, a teenager who fled her home in Ohio after claiming she had converted to Christianity, and her parents had threatened to kill her for it.

The case became a cause celebre, until Oct. 13, 2009, when Orange County Judge Daniel P. Dawson ruled that he would return Bary to Ohio. She was temporarily placed in the custody of the Franklin County (Ohio) Children Services. In June 2010, Bary graduated from high school and on Aug. 10, she turned 18 and her custody with Franklin County Children Services ended.

Korman said the case showed that Islam tolerates no dissension, and does not preach personal freedom.

“You have three chances to go back to Islam,” he said.  “She pretended to go back – and she didn’t. This is where political Islam impacted a life here in America.”

Encounter Church is at 2320 E. Robinson St.  To learn more, call 407-858-0351 or email info@encounterfl.com.

To learn more about ACT! For America, call 407-497-3541 or email actorlando1@gmail.com.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

Redistricting could mean one thing: the triumphant return of Alan Grayson.

Paul Senft things the Fair Districts Florida measures will end up in court and could go tossed out.

ORLANDO – He became a hero to so many on the political left, a champion of health care reform and opponent of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but he ultimately lost his re-election bid in a solid year for Republicans.

Now the question is whether former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson is poised to not only get re-elected, but to quickly become a soon-in to win.

At least one local political commentator thinks Grayson is headed back to Congress with a clear victory path next year.

“Guess what, he’s going to be back,” said Doug Guetzloe, host of The Guetzloe Report radio talk show and driving force behind the Ax the Tax movement.

Political activist Doug Guetzloe thinks former Congressman Alan Grayson will be heading back to Congress next year.

Guetzloe thinks that Grayson – who lost his seat representing the state’s 8th Congressional District to Republican Dan Webster, 56 percent to 38 percent – will win not because of changing political winds that go against the GOP and return to the Democrats’ corner, but rather something else entirely: redistricting.

 At the start of each decade, the 50 states use new census figures to redraw the lines of all 435 congressional district to reflect population shifts.  Florida grew at a solid enough rate throughout the past decade that the Sunshine State is expected to gain two more congressional districts, bringing the total number to 27.  Central Florida was one of the fastest growing parts of the state, and the Orlando area is widely expected to gain one of those districts.

Guetzloe, a conservative who has been active recently with the Florida Tea Party – which recruited a candidate, Peg Dunmire, to challenge Grayson in 2008 – thinks that district will clearly favor the Democrats.

“Central Florida will get a new Democratic seat in 2012, and it will be a democratic seat because Orange County is overwhelmingly Democratic,” Guetzloe said, adding that the Democrats have a natural candidate to run.

“Save your Alan Grayson buttons,” Guetzloe said.  “Alan Grayson will be the next congressman from that district.  He will be the unabashed frontrunner.”

Guetzloe thinks two factors will work in favor of a solidly Democratic district in the Orlando area.  First, most of the congressman in this area – Webster, Rep. John Mica of Winter Park, and Rep. Bill Posey of the Space Coast – are Republicans. Guetzloe thinks these incumbents will be eager to shed democratic precincts in their own districts, making them safer for their own re-election bids.

Second, a decade ago the district lines were drawn by the Florida Legislature, which today – just as in 2002 – is solidly in the hands of Republicans.  Add in Gov. Rick Scott, and Republicans have complete control of the redistricting process.

Or at least they did, until last November, when Florida voters approved two ballot referendums that pulled redistricting from the hands of state lawmakers and turned the process over to an independent commission given the task of drawing up the new lines. The ballot initiative, by Fair Districts Florida, aimed to restrict “gerrymandering,” the process of drawing lines to maximize partisan gain. Instead, it requires the drawing of compact districts that conform to geographic boundaries.

With Republican lawmakers stripped of their ability to craft safe GOP districts,”It’s going to result in more Democrats being elected in 2012,” Guetzloe said.  “Fair Districts is going to result in less gerrymandering, which will result in more democratic seats.”

Paul Senft, a former member of the Republican State Executive Committee and a  former Polk County commissioner, said that prediction might be premature.  He said population shifts will help determine where the district lines go, regardless of which party controls the process.

“The actual population figures will have something to do with that,” Senft said.  “I don’t know if Miami has grown or stayed the same, or if the Jacksonville area had the most growth. There are extensive computer programs where they can punch in numbers and do it that way.”

Senft said Greater Orlando, which experienced a major population boom over the past 10 years, should be favored to gain a new seat.

“I would think Orlando probably would, yes,” he said.

Could former Congressman Alan Grayson be heading for a re-election victory in 2012?

But Senft said it’s not clear if the Fair Districts measures, which were approved by two to one margins, will hold up under a court challenge.  U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, filed a court challenge along with U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Miami, to knock Amendments 5 and 6 off the ballot, unsuccessfully. Brown has promised to continue her court challenge, since she believes the amendments will make it harder to create districts that minority candidates can carry. 

“It will go to court for sure,” Senft said.  “It’s going to go to court and be settled in court. I don’t believe the politics is out of it when it’s in the courts.”

Brown’s own district stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando, taking in heavily minority voting precincts in both cities.  Guetzloe, though, predicted that Brown’s court challenge would almost certainly fail.

“I think Corrine Brown is an anachronism,” he said.  “I think she’ll moan and groan about this, but I don’t think she’ll get anywhere.”

 Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.


British investors target foreclosed vacation and luxury homes in Four Corners.

DAVENPORT – A section of Central Florida that grew by leaps and bounds when the housing market was on fire, and has since suffered a high home foreclosure rate, could be in for some welcome financial relief, courtesy of foreign investors.
The British have long had a love affair with Northeast Polk County and the Four Corners area where U.S. 192 and U.S. 27 meet, since the area is close to Walt Disney World and the other theme parks, and has an ample supply of vacation homes.  In fact, the vacation home industry has been booming throughout Northeast Polk County for the past decade.
But the growth of residential subdivisions along U.S. 27 in the first half of the last decade, which wiped out so many vacant citrus groves to make way for new housing units, turned into a nightmare for local Realtors when the housing boom crashed in 2008.  It left the region with a high inventory of newly built, unsold homes, and a rising foreclosure rate.

U.S. 27 runs through Northeast Polk County, an area where the vacation home industry boomed during the past decade.

A lot of that inventory, which has been slow to clear the market, could soon get cleared off the books altogether, said L. Scott Brown, a partner and licensed title agent with Orlando Title Services in Orlando.  He said a group of British investors have contacted him about their interest in chartering a new company that would purchase a lot of unsold vacation home properties along U.S. 27, at a time when too much competition has brought the prices down from the historic highs in 2005-2006.
The new corporation, Brown said, would be set up on the islands of Guernsey, which lie in the bay of St. Malo in the English Channel, about 30 miles from the north coast of France and 70 miles from the south coast of England.  Guernsey is a tax free island, and offers British business owners the equivalent of setting up an American company in the Bahamas.
“All the guys are British,” Brown said.  “There’s an IPO (Initial Public Offering) that’s supposed to be released in the United Kingdom for the sale of hundreds of vacation homes in the (U.S.) 27 corridor. These will be homes that have been foreclosed on.”
The Four Corners area – where the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties meet – already has a growing number of British pubs and restaurants, and a lot of the vacation homes there are run by property managers who relocated here from Britain to get in on this booming industry.  The short term rental home initially had its strongest market among the British and other Europeans, who came to the region for extended stays of a month or longer, and wanted to rent a fully furnished house for their families.  These home provide multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, game room and private pool — much more space than a hotel or motel room.  Even as the local housing market has floundered, there continues to be interest among foreign nationals in purchasing second homes here.

Sadly, far too many of the homes in Northeast Polk County and Four Corners have been short sales and bank foreclosures.

“There’s a lot of Canadians coming down and buying homes in the $100,000 range,” said Paul Dudley, who moved to Four Corners from England to run a local business, Florida Villa Services Inc., who sells game room equipment to residential and vacation home properties in the area.  “For that price, it’s all condos and townhouses.”
The second home and vacation home industries have dominated the Four Corners real estate market in the past decade, but it’s been a struggle in the past two years once the housing market collapsed.  Nevertheless, Brown said the British investors see an ideal opportunity to buy up new vacation homes at low prices, and then look for a healthy return on that investment as the market improves.
“They’re going to come in and buy up 6 percent of the vacation homes in Central Florida,” said Brown.  “They’ve contacted a couple of banks that have a huge portfolio of foreclosed homes. We’re going to know in the next two weeks if that will fly, but if it all flies, it will be great because it will remove a lot of dead inventory off the market.” 

L. Scott Brown, a partner in the mortgage firm Orlando Title Services, says British investors may buy up a bulk of foreclosed homes on U.S. 27.

Brown said the investors are looking at managing the properties for several years, then selling them.
“That can be a very exciting thing,” he said.
Pete Howlett, a Four Corners Realtor who runs Orlando Vacation Realty in Davenport, said clearing excess inventory off the list of unsold homes would help enormously in stabilizing the Four Corners real estate market.
“This market needs something like that to get rid of all the dead inventory,” Howlett said.  “Then we’ll see some return of prices when we get rid of all that dead wood.”
Brown said some local subdivisions are already seeing the inventory of homes for sale fall below 5 percent, which he said could soon put sellers in the driver’s seat once again.
“I’m seeing that in communities where the value has held up well,” he said.  “You’re seeing low inventories there, and with low inventory, it’s not long before it flips and becomes a seller’s market again.”

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