In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Calif. Radio Station, Host Apologize to Muslims
Bill Handel reprimanded for ‘insensitive remarks’ about Hajj deaths
(ANAHEIM, CA, 2/8/06) – The Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) announced today that KFI-AM 640 radio and talk show host Bill Handel have apologized for mocking the deaths of Muslims on Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Handel has also been reprimanded in writing by the station for his “insensitive remarks.”
CAIR-LA recently called for the apology and reprimand after being contacted by concerned Muslims who heard Handel’s January 12 broadcast, in which he made light of the more than 300 pilgrims who died in a stampede during this year’s Hajj.
SEE: CA Muslims Seek Reprimand for Radio Host Who Mocked Hajj Deaths
In a letter to the Muslim community sent to CAIR-LA, Clear Channel Communications Regional Vice President Greg Ashlock wrote in part: (Clear Channel is KFI’s parent company.)
“We would like to offer a sincere apology to members of the Muslim Community for recent comments airing on our station related to the unfortunate deaths for those taking part in the Hajj. KFI AM 640 does not condone making light of the deaths of people engaged in religious observances. . .
“On this particular program, we crossed the line in reporting the Hajj incident in an insensitive manner. We have discussed the content and timing of this ‘bit’ extensively with Mr. Bill Handel and his crew and are confident that everyone now understands the gravity of the situation. Mr. Handel expresses his sincere apology for the insensitive remarks.”
The letter also stated that a staff member’s e-mail reply to a racist message was due to an “error in auto-response.” “Our show hosts and the station denounce racism, period. We communicated our stance to CAIR as soon as we discovered the error,” wrote Ashlock.
In today’s program, Handel said: “The wound was very fresh for a lot of Muslims and the comments were out of line. And for that, I am sorry.”
To hear Handel’s on-air apology, go to:
Handel also contacted CAIR-LA to offer a personal apology.
“We thank all those Muslims, interfaith leaders, station advertisers, and community members who contacted KFI to express their concerns about Mr. Handel’s insensitive remarks,” said CAIR-LA Communications Director Sabiha Khan. “We would like to thank the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace in particular for standing with the Muslim community against hatred and bigotry.”
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace recently held a press conference outside the Clear Channel building in response to Handel’s remarks and the racist e-mail message.
“This incident demonstrates that people of good will working together can successfully challenge hatred and bigotry,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.
Ayloush said CAIR will continue to monitor and challenge Islamophobia on talk radio programs around the nation.
There are estimated 600,000 Muslims in Southern California.
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA, Sabiha Khan, 714-776-1847 or 714-390-0334, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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