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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 6, 2002
1:56 PM
CONTACT:  Council on American-Islamic Relations
Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726
Franklin Graham Smears Islam Again; Evangelist Says Quran Preaches Violence, Terrorism 'Mainstream' in Islam
 

WASHINGTON - August 6 - 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).

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