(RNS) A national Muslim civil liberties organization is protesting comments
made on talk show host Don Imus' program, which is nationally broadcast on
radio and on television network MSNBC.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging its members to
contact MSNBC to express their discontent. The group has also filed a
complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the Washington-based CAIR, on Friday (Nov. 19) an on-air
personality pretended to be a "senior military affairs adviser" on the
"Imus in the Morning" program. He referred to a wounded Iraqi who was shot
and killed by a U.S. Marine in a mosque as a "booby-trapped raghead
Imus, broadcast on 90 radio stations in addition to MSNBC, often engages in
caustic humor and criticism bordering on cruelty. But CAIR said this
comment crossed the line into bigotry.
On Nov. 12, Imus engaged in an on-air discussion with a colleague during
footage of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's funeral.
"They're stupid to begin with, but they're brainwashed now," the colleague
said, referring to Palestinians. "Stinking animals. They ought to drop the
bomb right there, kill 'em all right now."
This past spring, CAIR launched a campaign called "Hate Hurts America,"
which is specifically aimed at what the group identifies as increasing
anti-Muslim attacks on talk radio.
In a letter to NBC President Neal Shapiro, CAIR national communications
director Ibrahim Hooper wrote, "We are firm defenders of the First
Amendment, but these hate-filled and racist remarks can only serve to
legitimize anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry in our society and could lead
to further discrimination against members of the Islamic and Arab-American
On Tuesday (Nov. 23), MSNBC spokeswoman Leslie Zeller Schwartz issued a
statement pointing out that views expressed on the Imus program are not
those of MSNBC.
"Having said that, it was unfortunate that these remarks were telecast on
MSNBC," she said. "We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by
That didn't satisfy CAIR.
"I suppose we should appreciate the fact that they responded at all," said
Hooper. "But it's hard to characterize it as a strong apology."