Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Racial Issues: Rights group calls on Virginia's Governor-elect to repudiate anti-Islam remarks by televangelist Pat Robertson

A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on Virginia's Governor-elect Robert F. McDonnell to publicly repudiate anti-Islam remarks by Pat Robertson, the televangelist and gubernatorial campaign contributor who recently said Islam is "not a religion" and that American Muslims should be treated like members of a communist or fascist party.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Robertson has in the past called Muslims "satanic," claimed the Quran, Islam's revealed text, is "fraudulent" and said Islam is "a monumental scam."

Robertson's most recent inflammatory anti-Islam comments came in response to the Fort Hood shooting spree and after he made a $25,000 contribution to McDonnell's campaign. He also attended McDonnell's election night victory party. McDonnell has rejected calls to repudiate Robertson's remarks.

SEE: Robertson's Remarks Put McDonnell in a Bind (Wash. Post)

"If Governor-elect McDonnell wishes to show that he will be the governor of Virginians of all faiths, he should publicly repudiate Pat Robertson's hate-filled and divisive remarks," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Anything less is an indication of tacit approval for Robertson's bigoted and un-American views. Such comments evoke McCarthyism and would not be tolerated if they targeted any other religious or ethnic group."

He noted that CAIR recently called on American political and religious leaders to challenge Islamophobes engaged in a rhetorical backlash to the recent shooting spree at Fort Hood in Texas. Awad said Robertson was one of the Islamophobes cited by CAIR.

Awad said his organization has received a number of reports of anti-Muslim incidents related to the Fort Hood attack. Those reports include hate messages and death threats targeting American Muslim institutions and houses of worship, an attack on a Muslim woman in Illinois, an assault on a Greek Orthodox priest in Florida, threats written on a Muslim woman's car in Texas, and the defacing of a Muslim student's work with the word "terrorist," also in Texas.

CAIR thanked those national leaders who have challenged extremists seeking to exploit the Fort Hood attack in an effort to marginalize U.S. Muslims and demonize Islam.

A number of American leaders, including President Obama, Army Chief of Staff General George Casey Jr., and others have expressed solidarity with Muslims or offered support for religious diversity and tolerance.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that, as a Mormon, he empathizes with Muslims who are upset by the focus on the Islamic background of the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood attack.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said: "Obviously, we object to -- and do not believe -- that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this [attack]."

Immediately following the attack at Fort Hood, CAIR and other Muslim organizations issued strong condemnations of the deadly shootings and urged the nation to remain calm and unified.

CAIR also repudiated online remarks by a former Virginia imam praising the alleged perpetrator of the Fort Hood attack.

Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations

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