Muslims welcome President’s remarks on Islamophobia
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, tonight reacted positively to remarks by President Bush that repudiated rhetorical attacks on Islam by evangelical leaders.
In a meeting today with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the president said: “Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others.” He also said: “By far, the vast majority of American citizens respect the Islamic people and the Muslim faith”¦Ours is a country based upon tolerance…And we’re not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.”
Earlier in the day, CAIR issued a call for the president and other elected officials to condemn anti-Islamic rhetoric in America. That request, one of several addressed to the president in the recent past, came following attacks this week on Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims by televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson.
Media reports quoted White House officials who said the president’s remarks were prompted by recent attacks on Islam, particularly those of Pat Robertson, who said on Monday that Muslims are “worse than the Nazis.” “He (Bush) wanted (to make) a clear statement,” a senior White House official told Reuters.
“It is encouraging to hear President Bush address the issue of Islamophobic rhetoric in our society. We hope the president’s rejection of anti-Muslim hate speech will be followed by similar statements from other elected officials and from mainstream religious leaders,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper said Robertson’s and Swaggart’s smears were just the latest in a series of Islamophobic remarks by right-wing and evangelical commentators. Jerry Falwell recently called the Prophet Mohammed “a terrorist,” while Franklin Graham claimed Islam is an “evil and wicked religion.”