NC: MUSLIMS BOYCOTT CHARLOTTE TALK SHOW
Some local Muslims are urging people to boycott advertisers of WBT's "Jeff Katz Show," saying the conservative radio talker insults their religion with "hate-filled" comments on the air.
At a Wednesday news conference, Jibril Hough of the Charlotte-based Islamic Political Party of America charged that Katz speaks mockingly about Muslims and showcases only critics of Islam on his 3-6 p.m. show at 1110 AM.
"His agenda has been one of inciting fear, hatred and ignorance against Muslims," said Hough, who is also spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte. "His type of rhetoric would not be allowed against any other minority community ..."
Asked for specifics, Hough said Katz sarcastically refers to Islam as "the religion of peace"; distorts passages in the Koran, the Muslims' sacred book; calls Muslims who disagree with him "apologists for terrorists"; and refuses to let Hough and other Muslims speak on his show.
Katz, who is among the leading ratings performers in afternoon drive, rejected the group's characterization of his comments as bigoted. The Philadelphia native said he has merely expressed his frustration that too few Muslims have spoken out against terrorism.
"I've been looking for the reasonable, moderate, sensible voice of Islam that says, 'Stop killing in our name,'" said Katz, who came to Charlotte in August from San Francisco radio. "There are one billion Muslims in the world. I don't for a second think there are one billion terrorists . . . But (radical Islamic) groups have cowed people -- including practicing Muslims -- into not speaking out."
Katz added that he's become more hopeful this week, after a so-called "Secular Islam Summit" in St. Petersburg, Fla., was held to "stand (up) against radical Islam," according to promotional literature for the summit.
"It reminded me of the Founding Fathers," said Katz, who discussed the summit on his Wednesday show with guest Robert Spencer -- the source of another complaint from local Muslims. Spencer is creator of www.jihadwatch.org and author of several books that have been criticized by Muslims, including "The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion."
Katz's positive take on the "secular Islam summit" was not shared by some: A Georgetown University professor who teaches about Islam and Christianity told The St. Petersburg Times that the summit was a collection of extremists.
"Legitimate scholars are horrified by the lineup," said Yvonne Haddad. "Basically, it's everyone known for damning Islam."
Hough said he and other moderate Muslims have spoken out against radical Islamic terrorists since the attacks of Sept. 11. He urged Katz to tone down his comments about Muslims at a time when reports of attacks on Muslims are on the rise.
In January, five members of the Guilford College football team in Greensboro were charged with beating a group of Palestinian students. The students told authorities the players hit and kicked them while calling them "terrorists."
As of Wednesday, 129 people had signed Hough's petition (at www.PetitionOnline.com/jeffkatz/petition.html) to boycott the advertisers.
WBT general manager Rick Jackson stood by Katz, saying he's never heard the host say anything hateful or bigoted.
And Jackson defended the show's one-sided view: "Talk radio is not about balance, it's about opinions."