Redding Mayor Ken Murray has apologized for remarks made last week at a Sept. 11 commemoration at which
he called Shiite Muslims "wing nuts" who lie, cheat and steal for their God.
"I attributed these perverted beliefs to a sect of Shiite Muslims. Was I wrong?" Murray said Monday on his radio show "Murray in the Morning" on Redding talk radio station KQMS. "As a matter of fact, I was wrong."
He added later that he owed Shiites an apology and said he actually was referring to a sect of Islam called the Wahhabi, whose followers include Osama bin Laden.
Although they're in the minority, the Wahhabi dominate the Arabian peninsula, and they "have no problem lying, cheating, killing Christians, killing Muslims or anyone who doesn't meet their litmus test," Murray said.
The mayor's retraction came after a weekend of criticism of Thursday's "One Nation Under God" at the Shasta County courthouse. During the ceremony, Murray spoke alongside other Christian public officials and religious leaders to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Members of Redding's Islamic community and the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Murray for his statements, saying they amounted to religious bigotry.
"The unthinking bigotry and ignorance of such remarks are unworthy of an American public official and should be repudiated by all those who seek tolerance and mutual understanding," Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.