President Bush asked to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks
A national Islamic advocacy group today called on President Bush, other elected officials and leaders of national Christian and Jewish organizations to help defend America's image and interests in the Muslim world by repudiating "hate-filled" Islamophobic remarks made at the annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in St. Louis, Mo. (SEE: http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc02/)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made that request after the Rev. Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., told SBC conventioneers that the Prophet Muhammad was a "demon-possessed pedophile." (Vines is a former SBC president.) Vines added that, "Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people." When asked by reporters to condemn those bigoted remarks, both the outgoing and incoming SBC presidents said they supported Vines and his statements.
"This type of deeply offensive, bigoted and inaccurate rhetoric hands a victory to those who wish to drive a wedge between Muslims, Christians and Jews," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. "Reckless Islamophobic statements from individuals regarded as leaders in their faith community will harm America's image and interests worldwide and will serve to divide Americans at this time of national crisis," said Ahmad. He added: "Muslims revere the Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad as the ultimate moral and ethical role models who would never commit any act contrary to God's eternal message."
Ahmad quoted the Quran, Islam's revealed text, which states: "Say ye: 'We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one and another of them.'" (2:136)
He added that anti-Islamic rhetoric by respected religious leaders could lead to more hate-crimes against ordinary American Muslims. (CAIR is already receiving a number of hate messages from those who say they agree with Vines' statements.) A recent national poll indicated that "nearly 75 percent of Muslim Americans either know someone who has or have themselves experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since September 1l." See: "Accounts of Anti-Muslim Discrimination Not Exaggerated," at http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0530-124.html