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
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
"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 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).