JAFFA, Israel – The Saudi news media continue to spotlight the story of an America employee at Jeddah’s international airport whose conversion to Islam went viral in the Kingdom last week after video of the event was published.
Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem reported on the video, in which a group of Saudis surround the American employee while they exclaim the “Shahadatain,” an Islamic pillar of faith, meaning, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the prophet of Allah.”
After the American employee himself declares the “Shahadatain,” his Saudi colleagues shout, “Allahu Akbar,” meaning Allah is great, and they are seen hugging and kissing theAmerican over his conversion to Islam. It was not immediately clear when the video was taken.
On Friday, the Saudi Sabq news website published an extensive interview with the American, for the first time revealing his name to be Rick Harrison.
Harrison claimed that in America he was subject to propaganda against Islam. “Yet all those claims fell apart when I saw how my colleagues at the Jeddah airport treated me.”
“In the U.S., all Muslims are treated as a single unit,” he said. “There are many problems around the world happening due to a lack of understanding of Islam. This lack of understanding is manifested in the desire to identify Islam with terror, which does us harm as Muslims. I will be the first to try to remove this perception, starting with my family, friends and all those around me. Since I know and am convinced that Islam is a religion of mercy, tolerance and love.”
I felt that I was lost before Islam. I felt that a great burden has been lifted off of me the moment I decided to convert to Islam. Now I can see the Kaaba in Mecca. This is a dream that has been with me for fifty years. I am at a loss of words to express what is inside me except ‘Alhamdulillah’ (thank Allah).
I was exposed to anti-Islamic propaganda. But I have always asked myself how can someone judge anything without knowing it?
Harrison said that when he told one of his colleagues about his intention to convert to Islam, “(my colleague) was delighted on my behalf. My colleagues got together and I announced my conversion to Islam. I feel that I have joined the religion of truth. It all happened very fast.”
He claimed the difference between Islam and other religions is that there is only one Muslim holy book – the Quran:
I discovered that there is a great difference between Islam and the other religions. When I’ve searched within the Bible, I would run across many different and peculiar versions. I never knew which version, which book was true. But Islam compared to other religions has one book, which is the Quran. This made me believe it is the true religion.
Harrison stressed that he was not pressured to join Islam.
I have always been searching for the truth. I always knew that I was lost, and that I had the duty to correct the course of my life. And therefore I arrived at the decision and my colleagues assisted me with it. I did it for myself, not for my colleagues or friends. I felt personal relief and tranquility. An indescribable feeling. I am very proud of what I did. I am extremely aware of what I have done.
The interview does not include many personal details about Harrison other than to list previous work positons in Guatemala and in Cairo.
When asked how his family reacted to the news of his conversion, Harrison replied “I still haven’t informed my family. I want to keep it as a surprise until my visit during my annual break in about two weeks.”
Harrison said that he is not nervous about his family’s reaction. “The important thing to me is that I have found the truth and converted to Islam for myself and not for them. I will present them with the real Islam and I am sure that they will believe me since they know me as an honest and decent person and with Allah’s help I will offer them to join Islam as well.”
Watch conversion video here: