Franklin Graham smears Islam again
(WASHINGTON, D.C. - 8/6/02) - A prominent American Muslim civil rights and advocacy group is again calling on mainstream political and religious leaders to speak out against the growing number of extremist right-wing and evangelical commentators who seek to demonize Islam and Muslims.
That call from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) came after another attack on Islam by Christian evangelist Franklin Graham. In two media appearances yesterday, Graham said terrorism is part of "mainstream" Islam and claimed the Quran, Islam's revealed text, "preaches violence."
On Fox News cable network's "Hannity & Colmes" program, Graham, after repeatedly refusing to deny that Islam is "evil," said: "I think it's [terrorism] more mainstream. And it's not just a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, and it's in there. The violence that it preaches is there."
Hannity responded by saying: "But this then raises a question. If this is not, reverend, the extremist fanatical interpretation of the Quran, then we do have a big problem." Graham replied: "Big problem."
Earlier in the day, Graham appeared on Hannity's nationally-syndicated radio program where he made similar remarks and claimed that Muslim leaders have failed to condemn terrorism, despite the fact that all major American Muslim groups condemned the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism. When a Muslim caller tried to offer a balancing view, Hannity cut his microphone. When other callers openly stated that "Islam is evil," neither Graham nor Hannity challenged those bigoted views.
"Mainstream political leaders and religious figures must speak out against the growing demonization of Islam by extremist right-wing commentators and by representatives of the evangelical Christian community. Defamatory attacks on other faiths can only lead to a spiral of distrust and intolerance that will divide our society along religious lines," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper quoted the Quran, which states: "Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (16:125)
In November of last year, CAIR requested a meeting with Graham to discuss his remarks that attacked Islam as an "evil and wicked religion." Graham did not reply to that request. Franklin Graham is the son of Billy Graham, an internationally-known minister who has counseled a number of world leaders. The younger Graham offered the benediction at President Bush's swearing-in ceremony.
In June, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) refused to repudiate anti-Muslim statements made at the group's annual conference.
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), made up of the nation's four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups, is calling on all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance. The AMPCC consists of American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
FOX NEWS: HANNITY & COLMES INTERVIEW WITH FRANKLIN GRAHAM, 8/5/02
COLMES: We now continue with Franklin Graham. You were talking about tolerance, you know. And you were widely quoted as saying after September 11 that Islam is a very evil and wicked religion on an NBC show. Do you regret that? And do you feel that that could be interpreted as not being the most tolerant comment?
GRAHAM: Well, first of all, let me just put it this way. If a Roman Catholic put on dynamite and walked into a mosque in Saudi Arabia, in Medina or Mecca and said in the name of Jesus Christ and the church of Rome, I now blow you all up, and then took his life and killed everybody around him, the pope would be on television within hours denouncing this man and saying he does not represent the church. He doesn't represent Jesus Christ. And they would be raising money, not for the family of this man, but they would be raising money for those Muslim victims that died. There has not been the condemnation of the clerics.
COLMES: You're right about that.
GRAHAM: Around the world.
COLMES: But the religion itself is not an evil religion?
GRAHAM: Well, there are -- there is no condemnation. Instead the Saudis are raising funds for not the victims that have been killed in Israel, but for the families...
GRAHAM: ...of those that are blowing themselves up, that encourage more bombings.
COLMES: But is the religion itself evil, in fact?
GRAHAM: Well, you tell me. I mean, just what you see. When people go up and blow themselves up, and the religious leaders of this religion say nothing, something's wrong here. And two plus two doesn't add up.
COLMES: But a lot of people would say that doesn't define the entire religion. Those are extremists who are not definitive of the religion.
GRAHAM: But I'm asking, you know, why doesn't the Islamic world...
COLMES: Well, I agree with you. I think they...
GRAHAM: ...the Muslim world.
COLMES: ...should be outspoken about it.
GRAHAM: ...how come the clerics in Egypt and the clerics in Saudi Arabia, the great muftis that are over there, how come they don't stand --come on your program and say...
COLMES: They should.
GRAHAM: ...what they did is evil, wrong? And it's wicked?
COLMES: I agree with you there.
HANNITY: Well, wait a minute. I want to go a little further here, because Reverend, you're saying something that I've been saying since September 11. The silence has been deafening.
HANNITY: Why is that? Is it that it is more mainstream than anybody -- we always say.
GRAHAM: I think it is. I think it's more mainstream. And it's not just a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, and it's in there. The violence that it preaches is there.
HANNITY: Holy war. Take neither Christians nor Jews for your friends. Now I'll play devil's advocate. I've invited people on. And almost -- they'll always say that is the misinterpretation.
GRAHAM: Well, first of all, remember, Islam in this country can -- is not permitted to be taught and carried out.
GRAHAM: People are protected. Muslims in this country are protected...
GRAHAM: ...by the Constitution. They're not allowed to treat women in this country the way they do in other nations around the world, Islamic nations. So the Islam you see in this country isn't the same as you see it around the world. And so Muslims here don't quite have the same understanding as they do for those that are raised in places like Saudi Arabia, where a woman cannot even have a passport unless her father or her husband gives it to her. She can't drive a car. She has to be veiled.
HANNITY: But this then raises a question. If this is not, reverend, the extremist fanatical interpretation of the Koran, then we do have a big problem...
GRAHAM: Big problem.
HANNITY: ...with one billion people on the face of this earth that buy into that.
GRAHAM: Well, no, I believe there are hundreds of millions that are nominal Muslims. They're not really practicing Muslims. Like a lot of people in this country claim to be Christians when they're just nominal Christians. They may go to church once a year.
GRAHAM: But I think it's the same in the Islamic world. There are many who don't really buy into this.
HANNITY: You deal with this in your book, the crucial differences between Islam and Christianity.
GRAHAM: I do.
HANNITY: But the point I was trying to make here then, is it a matter that we have to persuade or inform? Persuade people not to go with the literal interpretation or...
HANNITY: ...inform people that this could be a greater threat than anyone is willing to speak of?
GRAHAM: It is a greater threat than anyone's willing to speak. And it's...
HANNITY: That's scary.
GRAHAM: It is scary.
HANNITY: You scare me.
HANNITY: But those -- that literal interpretation scares me.
GRAHAM: Well, it is scary. But listen, my hope is an almighty God. And he sits on the throne of heaven.
GRAHAM: And for ever person that puts their faith and trust in his son, and is willing to obey his laws and his decrees, I don't care what religion is coming up. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I believe in Jesus Christ.