Bearing petitions and prayers, about 70 people gathered Sunday to protest the “hateful utterances” of national radio personality Michael Savage, whose talk show is carried locally by KCMO 710-AM.
Representatives from several faiths, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism, were meeting for the first time as the Interfaith Coalition Against Bigotry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The group has collected hundreds of signatures on petitions protesting Savage’s statements last fall, “which included a call to deport Muslims from the United States without due process of law,” the group said.
“We have become sometimes saddened and sometimes angered by what Michael Savage has said,” Arif Ahmad of the Islamic Center of Johnson County said Sunday. “We have to tell everyone, you become a star by bringing people together, not by dividing them.”
The group wants to see KCMO drop Savage’s show, the Savage Nation, put on a disclaimer saying the show’s views do not match those of the station, or give Muslims or interfaith groups air time to respond and explain Islam, said James Everett, a longtime interfaith activist in Kansas City.
The station also could switch to music, he said, if Savage launched into offensive language.
Mahnaz Shabbir, a Muslim who led Sunday’s meeting, said radio station managers have agreed to meet Tuesday with representatives of the group. The group plans to present the petitions to the station after the petition drive ends on June 15, she said.
Shabbir said the group defends free speech but thinks all speech must be responsible. . .
The controversy began last fall, when Savage made statements on his nationally syndicated radio show that Muslim and interfaith groups saw as anti-Muslim. . .
The statements garnered the attention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit organization that works to promote understanding of Islam and protect civil rights.
The council has called on advertisers to stop advertising on Savage’s show.