Franklin Graham smears Islam again
(WASHINGTON, D.C. - 8/6/02) - A prominent American Muslim civil rights and advocacy group is again calling on mainstream political and religious leaders to speak out against the growing number of extremist right-wing and evangelical commentators who seek to demonize Islam and Muslims.
That call from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) came after another attack on Islam by Christian evangelist Franklin Graham. In two media appearances yesterday, Graham said terrorism is part of "mainstream" Islam and claimed the Quran, Islam's revealed text, "preaches violence."
On Fox News cable network's "Hannity & Colmes" program, Graham, after repeatedly refusing to deny that Islam is "evil," said: "I think it's [terrorism] more mainstream. And it's not just a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, and it's in there. The violence that it preaches is there."
Hannity responded by saying: "But this then raises a question. If this is not, reverend, the extremist fanatical interpretation of the Quran, then we do have a big problem." Graham replied: "Big problem."
Earlier in the day, Graham appeared on Hannity's nationally-syndicated radio program where he made similar remarks and claimed that Muslim leaders have failed to condemn terrorism, despite the fact that all major American Muslim groups condemned the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism. When a Muslim caller tried to offer a balancing view, Hannity cut his microphone. When other callers openly stated that "Islam is evil," neither Graham nor Hannity challenged those bigoted views.
"Mainstream political leaders and religious figures must speak out against the growing demonization of Islam by extremist right-wing commentators and by representatives of the evangelical Christian community. Defamatory attacks on other faiths can only lead to a spiral of distrust and intolerance that will divide our society along religious lines," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper quoted the Quran, which states: "Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (16:125)
In November of last year, CAIR requested a meeting with Graham to discuss his remarks that attacked Islam as an "evil and wicked religion." Graham did not reply to that request. Franklin Graham is the son of Billy Graham, an internationally-known minister who has counseled a number of world leaders. The younger Graham offered the benediction at President Bush's swearing-in ceremony.
In June, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) refused to repudiate anti-Muslim statements made at the group's annual conference.
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), made up of the nation's four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups, is calling on all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance. The AMPCC consists of American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
FOX NEWS: HANNITY & COLMES INTERVIEW WITH FRANKLIN GRAHAM, 8/5/02
COLMES: We now continue with Franklin Graham. You were talking about tolerance, you know. And you were widely quoted as saying after September 11 that Islam is a very evil and wicked religion on an NBC show. Do you regret that? And do you feel that that could be interpreted as not being the most tolerant comment?
GRAHAM: Well, first of all, let me just put it this way. If a Roman Catholic put on dynamite and walked into a mosque in Saudi Arabia, in Medina or Mecca and said in the name of Jesus Christ and the church of Rome, I now blow you all up, and then took his life and killed everybody around him, the pope would be on television within hours denouncing this man and saying he does not represent the church. He doesn't represent Jesus Christ. And they would be raising money, not for the family of this man, but they would be raising money for those Muslim victims that died. There has not been the condemnation of the clerics.
COLMES: You're right about that.
GRAHAM: Around the world.
COLMES: But the religion itself is not an evil religion?
GRAHAM: Well, there are -- there is no condemnation. Instead the Saudis are raising funds for not the victims that have been killed in Israel, but for the families...
GRAHAM: ...of those that are blowing themselves up, that encourage more bombings.
COLMES: But is the religion itself evil, in fact?
GRAHAM: Well, you tell me. I mean, just what you see. When people go up and blow themselves up, and the religious leaders of this religion say nothing, something's wrong here. And two plus two doesn't add up.
COLMES: But a lot of people would say that doesn't define the entire religion. Those are extremists who are not definitive of the religion.
GRAHAM: But I'm asking, you know, why doesn't the Islamic world...
COLMES: Well, I agree with you. I think they...
GRAHAM: ...the Muslim world.
COLMES: ...should be outspoken about it.
GRAHAM: ...how come the clerics in Egypt and the clerics in Saudi Arabia, the great muftis that are over there, how come they don't stand --come on your program and say...
COLMES: They should.
GRAHAM: ...what they did is evil, wrong? And it's wicked?
COLMES: I agree with you there.
HANNITY: Well, wait a minute. I want to go a little further here, because Reverend, you're saying something that I've been saying since September 11. The silence has been deafening.
HANNITY: Why is that? Is it that it is more mainstream than anybody -- we always say.
GRAHAM: I think it is. I think it's more mainstream. And it's not just a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, and it's in there. The violence that it preaches is there.
HANNITY: Holy war. Take neither Christians nor Jews for your friends. Now I'll play devil's advocate. I've invited people on. And almost -- they'll always say that is the misinterpretation.
GRAHAM: Well, first of all, remember, Islam in this country can -- is not permitted to be taught and carried out.
GRAHAM: People are protected. Muslims in this country are protected...
GRAHAM: ...by the Constitution. They're not allowed to treat women in this country the way they do in other nations around the world, Islamic nations. So the Islam you see in this country isn't the same as you see it around the world. And so Muslims here don't quite have the same understanding as they do for those that are raised in places like Saudi Arabia, where a woman cannot even have a passport unless her father or her husband gives it to her. She can't drive a car. She has to be veiled.
HANNITY: But this then raises a question. If this is not, reverend, the extremist fanatical interpretation of the Koran, then we do have a big problem...
GRAHAM: Big problem.
HANNITY: ...with one billion people on the face of this earth that buy into that.
GRAHAM: Well, no, I believe there are hundreds of millions that are nominal Muslims. They're not really practicing Muslims. Like a lot of people in this country claim to be Christians when they're just nominal Christians. They may go to church once a year.
GRAHAM: But I think it's the same in the Islamic world. There are many who don't really buy into this.
HANNITY: You deal with this in your book, the crucial differences between Islam and Christianity.
GRAHAM: I do.
HANNITY: But the point I was trying to make here then, is it a matter that we have to persuade or inform? Persuade people not to go with the literal interpretation or...
HANNITY: ...inform people that this could be a greater threat than anyone is willing to speak of?
GRAHAM: It is a greater threat than anyone's willing to speak. And it's...
HANNITY: That's scary.
GRAHAM: It is scary.
HANNITY: You scare me.
HANNITY: But those -- that literal interpretation scares me.
GRAHAM: Well, it is scary. But listen, my hope is an almighty God. And he sits on the throne of heaven.
GRAHAM: And for ever person that puts their faith and trust in his son, and is willing to obey his laws and his decrees, I don't care what religion is coming up. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I believe in Jesus Christ.
Agent admits writing anti-Muslim graffiti
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded the Justice Department's swift action against a Secret Service agent who acknowledged responsibility for anti-Muslim graffiti found scrawled in the home of a Dearborn, Mich., terror suspect.
Relatives of the Jordanian-American man arrested last week while allegedly carrying counterfeit checks told the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group they found the words "Islam is Evil" and "Christ is King" written on a Muslim prayer calendar attached to the man's refrigerator following a search by the Secret Service and the FBI. On Monday, CAIR wrote a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him to investigate the incident.
"We are pleased that authorities took such swift action in both investigating this incident and in dealing with the agent involved," said CAIR Communications Coordinator Hodan Hassan. "We hope this sends a signal to the law enforcement community that such bigoted behavior will not be tolerated," said Hassan. She added that this incident highlights the needs for religious sensitivity training for agents involved in working with the American Muslim and Arab-American communities.
Jeffrey Collins, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan told the Associated Press: "This unprofessional conduct by a single agent is a gross aberration and a great embarrassment...This act does not represent the professional and courageous efforts and the overwhelming ability of federal agents and local law enforcement officers who continue in challenging times to do a superb job."
Collins did not identify the agent. After acknowledging his responsibility, the agent was flown to Washington to be interviewed by Justice Department officials. The agent is on administrative leave while the incident is reviewed.
U.S. Muslims call for 9/11/02 "Day of Unity and Prayer"
A national American Muslim political council today announced a "National Day of Unity and Prayer" designed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), made up of the nation's four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups,* called on all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance.
A web site will be established to allow local mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions to register their participation in the national event.
A joint AMPCC statement read in part: "It is imperative that all Americans come together on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks to show that we are united as a nation and to reject efforts by any parties, whether overseas or within our borders, to divide the United States along religious or ethnic lines. The Muslim community is part of this country, and we join our fellow citizens in mourning those who were killed or injured on that fateful day."
AMPCC member groups will help coordinate the American Muslim community's participation in the National Day of Unity and Prayer. As part of the AMPCC campaign, a step-by-step guide to holding local mosque open houses will be distributed to Islamic centers nationwide.
Other religious organizations, such as the National Council of Churches, are organizing similar observances.
American Muslim groups jointly and individually condemned the 9/11 attacks. An AMPCC statement issued within hours of the incidents stated: "American Muslims utterly condemn what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts."
Israel uses U.S. weapons to massacre palestinian civilians
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/23/02) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today strongly condemned Israel's use of American taxpayer-supplied weapons to massacre at least 11 Palestinians, including women and children, in an attack on a residential building in the Gaza Strip.
The latest list of dead released by a nearby hospital included two babies ages 18 and 2 months, five children ages 3-5, an 11-year-old and three adults. Israel used an American-made F-16 fighter plane to launch the missile that struck the building.
"The blood of these innocent children is on the hands of those in America's pro-Israel lobby who use their influence to promote congressional and administration policies that provide American tax dollars and tacit support for such attacks," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. He said the attack was a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.
"Terrorism is defined as the use of violence against civilians to achieve political goals. This premeditated attack on a civilian building in the dead of night is a prime example of state-sponsored terrorism. If our government fails to condemn this massacre, all the official rhetoric about 'zero-tolerance' for terrorism will ring hollow around the Muslim world. There should be one standard for defining terrorism, not one for Israel and one for the rest of the world," said Ahmad.
He added that the recent administration shift away from an even-handed Middle East policy to one that bows to Israeli dictates was obviously viewed as a green-light for the attack. Ahmad also called on American Jewish groups to condemn the attack in the same way that American Muslim organizations have condemned other acts of terrorism.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned the attack, saying: "Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life; it clearly failed to do so in using a missile against an apartment building...The secretary-general calls on the government of Israel to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law."