[Ahmad Al-Akhras is national vice chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.]
It was shocking to hear Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a presidential candidate, threaten to bomb the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia as retaliation for any future terrorist attack on the United States ("Pakistan rejects Obama stance," Associated Press article, Aug. 4). Such bigoted words can contribute to anti-Americanism, endangering Americans and providing al-Qaida and its ilk with a tool to recruit and raise funds. . .
People more stable than Tancredo saw the danger of his words. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that the remarks "are just outrageous." At a Republican presidential debate in Iowa, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said, "I sincerely believe that bombing religious artifacts and religious holy sites would do nothing but unify 1 billion Muslims against us."
Sending a message to our Muslim allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere that their holy cities are priority targets certainly will chill their desire to aid us. Tancredo must retract and apologize for these remarks. If not, Americans should let him face a room of empty chairs whenever he campaigns in their states.
Neither Islam nor Muslims are the enemy. The real enemy is ignorance.