On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, after host Jon Scott displayed a political cartoon that depicted the aggressive overreaction of many Muslims to Pastor Terry Jones’s threat to burn a Koran on September 11, liberal FNC analyst Alan Colmes suggested that a "very similar reaction" from Christians would result if a Muslim announced the intent to burn a Bible. Despite the reported riots and death in places like Kabul, Afghanistan, Colmes initically doubted that there had been calls for "Death to America" as a result of the Koran-burning controversy.
Scott showed a cartoon from tobytoons.com which ended with a Muslim man shouting "Death to America," and turned to Colmes, asking, "Do they have a point?" The exchange continued:
Dan Rather this weekend smacked down the entire panel of the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show" over the press hyping Pastor Terry Jones's threats to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11.
"Media in general bear some responsibility here by running so hard with this story so early and putting such comments as you just said not only on the air, but high on the air, giving it play," Rather said.
When everyone on the set - including Matthews, Katty Kay of the BBC, Andrea Mitchell of NBC, and David Ignatius of the Washington Post - disagreed with him, Rather pushed back, "We do have a responsibility, however you want to describe us, as gatekeepers."
He continued, "We could do a better job of putting it in perspective, putting it into context" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour used Sunday’s This Week to again shame Americans for their presumed irrational intolerance and Islamophobia as she railed against the ignorance of too many Americans, provided a friendly forum to Iman Faisal Abdul Rauf, whom she prompted to ridicule Sarah Palin, and then brought aboard a group of three “leading thinkers on faith” to “discuss religious tolerance and Islamophobia in America.” That brings Amanpour’s show tally to six guests in favor of the Ground Zero mosque versus zero opposed (four today, two on the August 22 program).
Unmentioned by Amanpour or her guests: A report presented Friday by former 9/11 Commission Co-Chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton about, according to Reuters, a needed “wake-up call about the radicalization of Muslims in the United States.” The report warned: “The U.S. is arguably now little different from Europe in terms of having a domestic terrorist problem involving immigrant and indigenous Muslims as well as converts to Islam.”
At the top of Sunday’s show, Amanpour noted the 9/11 anniversary and used it to frame her agenda: “Nine years later, the growing hostility towards American Muslims.” In a lengthy set-up piece leading into Rauf, Amanpour fretted that “the plans to build an Islamic center close to Ground Zero have whipped up anti-Muslim sentiment” and insisted: “Not since 9/11 has the country seen such anti-Muslim fervor.” She asserted “Muslim-Americans are feeling vulnerable, with attacks on mosques in California, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. And the latest fuel poured on the fire, a threat to burn Korans...” And “these tumultuous events have created a global backlash. From Washington, to the Vatican, to Afghanistan.”
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, after host Matthews asked if electing a President whose middle name was "Hussein" had "opened a door to better relations with the Arab and Islamic world. Or has it opened a door to more xenophobic American negativity?" the panel mostly agreed that Obama’s election was more of a "net plus" for America’s relations with the world's Muslim population. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had a dissenting view that "President Obama raised expectations that there would be a different kind of America. That in itself could be dangerous."
After former CBS News anchor Dan Rather argued that "I think it's opened the door to both, but, on balance, and in the main, it's still a net plus in terms of the country's reputation," the BBC’s Katty Kay agreed and implicated President Bush in damaging America’s relations with the Muslim world. Kay: "I agree that it's a net plus, particularly when you compare it with what came before and the invasion of Iraq and how much of a problem that was for America's relations with the Middle East."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell concurred: "I agree because after the invasion of Iraq and with this President and his multicultural background, it is a net plus."
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius then weighed in with a more pessimistic take:
As liberals tumble over each other extending apologies to Muslims for any American that would even whisper idly about burning a Koran, they should start apologizing for the Daily Kos. On Friday night came a plea from the atheist blogger "qinkilla" to burn all the religious texts, to keep people warm:
I am fine with the Koran being burnt, but only if the Bible and the Torah and any other religious document is included in the prodigious torching. If you've watched the Denzel Washington movie "The Book of Eli" you'd probably think that a braille copy of the Bible could save humanity. Well, in this country, we've got one of 'em in just about every hotel and motel room - and things just aren't getting better.
I believe sans religion, we'll all be better off....So here's my plan. We spend the next month gathering up all the religious documents in the world -- after all, it's time to let the invisible man go - and we allocate them to cold places, so they can be burned for a good cause...heat.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote a short piece on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 that should be must-reading for all Americans on both sides of the aisle.
In fact, I'm sure liberal Times devotees will be just as shocked by "A Lesson From 9/11" as conservatives that take the three minutes necessary to get through it.
After sharing his experience as a New Yorker who was in Manhattan that awful day, Blow marvelously tied it all together with what Americans have fought and died for since our forefathers were colonists:
On Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, during a discussion of the Ground Zero mosque and the possibility of Koran burning in Florida by Pastor Terry Jones, after anchor Dan Harris brought up the naive liberal expectation that President Obama would be able to improve relations with the Muslim world because of his family connections to Islam and his inaugural speech reaching out to Muslims, ABC News consultant Richard Clarke suggested that Obama’s inaugural address had "helped a lot" to make America safer before being derailed by recent controversies. Clarke's suggestion came after he had argued that recent events have made America "a lot less safe," with the conversation continuing:
DAN HARRIS: But, you know, there was all this talk when President Obama was inaugurated that here's a man whose middle name was "Hussein," he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country, he's made a LOT of effort to reach out to the Muslim world, and, in fact, gave an impassioned set of statements on this very issue yesterday. Has none of that helped?
RICHARD CLARKE: Well, it did help. When he said in his inaugural address, "America is not at war with Islam," that helped a lot. But the recent controversies have undone all of that.
Clarke – a former counterterrorism advisor for both the Clinton and Bush administrations who has a history of sharp criticism of the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 – later in the segment vaguely impugned the Bush administration’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks: "We have to anticipate that there will be another attack. And we have to think about what our reaction's going to be when that occurs. Last time, a lot of our reaction was counterproductive."
Imagine for a moment you were the editor of a magazine owned by the Washington Post and Newsweek. Would you a day before the ninth anniversary of 9/11 publish an article with the following headline:
The Talibanization of America Viewed from Pakistan, the rise of U.S. Islamophobia looks depressingly familiar.
Seems rather inflammatory hours before such a solemn day in America, don't you think?
Yet, such was published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine, an affiliate of the Slate Group.
Sadly, the contents - which in paragraph three equated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with prospective Koran burner Terry Jones - will likely be even more offensive to the vast majority of Americans especially on September 11:
Fire doesn't melt steel--and a Florida pastor apparently isn't capable of burning a Koran without a plot by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich behind him . . .
On The Ed Show this evening, guest Karen Hunter, responding to a leading question from host Schultz, went deep conspiracy theory, saying she "wouldn't be surprised at all" if the "fingerprints" of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich were "all over" Pastor Terry Jones' plan to fire up some Korans.
Filling in for anchor Katie Couric on Thursday's CBS Evening News, Early Show co-host Harry Smith introduced a report on opposition to building mosques in some areas of the country: "...they feel like strangers in their own country, Muslims shocked by the growing opposition to new mosques....building a mosque has suddenly become a hot-button issue in many communities."
Smith expounded on the cause of the protests: "The furor over plans to burn the Koran and the building of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero has had ripple effects all across America." Correspondent Seth Doane followed by focusing on opposition to a proposed mosque in Tennessee: "About 250 Muslim families live here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. For decades, they've lived in peace and have prayed at a small local mosque. But then trouble started brewing over this site, where they want to expand and build a bigger Islamic center."
Doane described the feelings of one Muslim resident: "[Saleh Sbenaty]says even after September 11th, he didn't see hatred like this." Doane added: "Nationwide, more than half a dozen proposed Islamic centers have run into roadblocks, from Temecula, California, to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to the high-profile one near Ground Zero." He did not explain what those "roadblocks" were.
In what had to be the ultimate in condescension and elitism, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" brought Pastor Terry Jones on the show merely to lecture him on Christianity, cutting him off before he could even respond. Co-host Mika Brzezinski explained to him "we don't really need to hear anything else, so thanks." Newsbusters' Mark Finkelstein first briefly reported on this segment this morning.
Panel member Jon Meacham, the departing editor of Newsweek, briefly preached to Pastor Jones on Jesus' New Testament message of love and forgiveness and then appealed to him "as a fellow Christian" to not follow through with his threats to burn the Koran. Then, before Pastor Jones responded, his live feed was cut and co-host Mika Brzezinski continued with the show, saying that they did not need to listen to Pastor Jones.
"The central message of the New Testament is forgiveness, and to put oneself in the place of another," Meacham lectured Pastor Jones on planning to burn copies of the Koran. "And so I would simply appeal to you, as a fellow Christian, that the course you suggested is going to be incredibly dangerous, and would ask you to desist in the name of New Testament theology."
Washington Post staff writer Anne Kornblut used her question at a White House press conference on Friday to worry that, despite Barack Obama making it a "priority," anti-Muslim "suspicion" still existed in America.
She queried the President, "Nine years after the September 11th attacks, why do you think it is that we are now seeing such an increase in suspicion and outright resentment of Islam, especially given that it has been one of your priorities to improve relations with the Muslim world?" [MP3 audio here.]
Obama's response seemed to echo his infamous 2008 comment about Americans being "bitter" and "clinging" to their guns. He proclaimed, "You know, I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then, you know, fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society. And, so, I think that plays a role in it."
Chris Matthews on Thursday accused Sarah Palin of aiding and abetting Pastor Terry Jones, the man threatening to burn Korans on Saturday's ninth anniversary of 9/11.
For days, Matthews and his colleagues on MSNBC have been calling upon Republicans to speak out against Jones.
On Wednesday, the former Alaska governor did exactly that at her Facebook page and at Twitter.
But this wasn't enough for Matthews who repeatedly on the 5PM installment of "Hardball" attacked Palin for being too "soft" in her admonishment of Jones, and actually accused her of giving the Pastor the linkage between burning Korans and the controversy surrounding the Ground Zero mosque.
Matthews also included House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.) in his pathetic plot (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Both Pat Buchanan and Donny Deutsch have advocated the arrest of Pastor Terry Jones to prevent his possible burning of Korans and the danger to US troops such act would threaten. The paleo-conservative and the New York liberal made common cause on today's Morning Joe. They were outnumbered by Mika Brzezinski, Dan Senor and John Heilemann, all of whom opposed the arrest-the-pastor proposal on First Amendment grounds. Buchanan and Deutsch expressed disregard for the First Amendment implications.
Buchanan asserted that if Pres. Obama were to follow his advice, conservatives would support him and his popularity would zoom 10% overnight.
CNN offered a sneak preview of their upcoming Parker-Spitzer program on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360 with the new hosts, pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker and "Client Number Nine" Eliot Spitzer agreeing that the "well-spoken" Imam Feisal Rauf changed few minds with his recent interview. The two also forwarded their network's charge that "Islamophobia" is growing in the U.S.
Anchor Anderson Cooper began the segment by asking the two about Soledad O'Brien interview of Rauf, which took place the previous hour. Parker, the "Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and noted conservative commentator," as Cooper called her, endorsed his appearance and went on to characterize the two sides of the debate over the planned Ground Zero mosque. In her view, those who oppose it "were going to sort of be looking for ways to convince yourself that he was...trying to be this, sort of, secret jihadist." On the other hand, the supporters of the mosque "understand that he seemed as a reasonable, rational person who's well-spoken and has something important to say."
Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf chose ABC's Christiane Amanpour to spend “several hours” with on Thursday in New York City, and just as she did back on the August 22 This Week when she featured Rauf's wife and an ally, she again served as his public relations agent, forwarding his claims without challenge. After passing along his denial of any deal to move his project, Amanpour gushingly relayed meaningless blather about his great concern: “The imam went on to tell me that this whole issue is so sensitive because he has to really take care of sensitivities here in the United States and abroad.”
Amanpour proceeded to tout that he's now back from an overseas trip “all about interfaith dialogue and trying to reach the moderates,” and he warned, as he did on Wednesday's Larry King Live, that if he doesn't get his way Muslims will murder Americans. Amanpour, however, didn't describe that as a protection racket or suggest he's employing blackmail. Instead, she just paraphrased his spin that his warning -- about his vanity – is “a matter of vital national security” to the U.S.:
He says that this has become a huge international issue, the issue over the Islamic center in Manhattan and also the threatened Koran burning. And so everybody, all over the world, not just here in the United States, is watching. And he felt, and he said to me, that he thought it was a matter of vital national security not to give in or to move that Islamic center.
As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, and Americans fret about a Pastor they never heard of burning Korans to commemorate the event, people on both sides of the political aisle should be asking a serious question: did the media negligently create this controversy?
After all, Terry Jones has a tiny, 50 member, non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida.
Should some unknown Pastor - with a following smaller than what's normally in line at an In-n-Out restaurant drive-thru! - wanting to burn Korans generate such a media firestorm that an international incident and our national security are threatened?
As Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel wrote Wednesday, if you knew the real attention-getting background of Jones, the answer would be a definitive "No":
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez tried to connect the overwhelming opposition to the planned Ground Zero mosque to a Florida pastor's "Burn a Koran Day" event. Sanchez asked former New York Governor George Pataki, "Do you feel in any way that some of this backlash...led by some fine gentlemen like yourself...has kind of paved the way for that controversy, and if so, do you feel guilty at all?" [audio clip available here]
Sanchez interviewed Pataki during the prime time edition of his program. Just before the bottom of the 8 pm Eastern hour, the anchor raised Pastor Terry Jones's planned inflammatory protest: "Let me ask you one final question, if I possibly can. There's this new hullabaloo going on in Gainesville, Florida, with this pastor who wants to literally burn Korans. And now, we're getting protests in Afghanistan- our generals are saying this guy's going to get our troops killed."
In an interview with Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith implied a link between Ground Zero mosque opposition and a pastor's plan to burn the Koran: "...a line that can be drawn from the...anti-Muslim sentiment that seems to be growing in this country and seems to be festering in the Islamic cultural center....Do you see a line that connects here?"
Ellison, the only Muslim member of Congress, defended the planned mosque: "...in my view, the cultural center in lower Manhattan, the purpose of it wasn't to offend or insult anyone. The purpose was to try to build bridges of understanding...there's no doubt that the people who pull this project together were not intending to insult anyone." The Congressman then agreed with Smith's characterization of the opposition: "...there does seem to be a certain wave of anti-Islamic sentiment."
“Anti-Muslim bigotry is a problem, but it is only exacerbated by the media's tendency to exaggerate and sensationalize it,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observed Wednesday in looking at the media’s focus on the threat, to burn Qur’ans, by one widely condemned Florida pastor with barely a few dozen followers. On Wednesday night, for the second night in a row, two of the three broadcast network evening news shows led with Terry Jones (ABC and CBS on Tuesday, CBS and NBC on Wednesday.)
But what I found amusing is how network journalists decided Sarah Palin, the Pope – and even Pat Robertson – are now sources of wisdom worth publicizing. Over aerial video of the Vatican (screen capture below), Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News: “Tonight, despite condemnation from the Vatican and a personal plea from Muslims, that Christian minister in Florida is going ahead with plans to burn copies of the Qur'an.”
“This is the news,” an excited Diane Sawyer announced on ABC, “not only is Billy Graham's son Franklin trying to reach out to him, so is Sarah Palin.” Terry Moran relayed how “late today, Sarah Palin tweeted her opposition, writing: ‘Please stand down.’ And long-time televangelist Pat Robertson blasted Pastor Jones this morning.”
CNN's Deborah Feyerick played up Imam Feisal Rauf's apparent credentials as a "moderate" Muslim during a report on Wednesday's American Morning. Feyerick omitted using sound bites from Rauf's critics, and only briefly mentioned his controversial remarks about on CBS's 60 Minutes about the 9/11 attacks and his reluctance to condemn Hamas.
The CNN correspondent's report led the 6 am Eastern hour, and was re-broadcast throughout the day on the network. Almost immediately, Feyerick stressed how Rauf is apparently a "voice of moderation" by playing three clips from three who unequivocally endorse him- the State Department's P. J. Crowley, mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal, and Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University. She continued by describing the Islamic cleric as a "Sufi Muslim, at the other end of the Islamic spectrum from the radical theology that feeds groups like al Qaeda."
In an interview with controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith doubted whether or not Muslim extremism was really a threat: "Would you regard radical Islam, then, as the enemy?"
While Jones' plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has been rightfully condemned as offensive and an unnecessary provocation, Smith's response of questioning the danger of Islamic radicalism altogether denies the ideological motivation of America's enemies. After Jones described receiving threats over his planned event, Smith responded by quoting scripture: "...you're a student of the New testament, I'm sure. Did not Jesus say you're to love your enemy?"
After Jones continued to defend the burning of the Muslim religious text, Smith again cited the Bible: "But there are at least two different times in Matthew and Luke where Jesus is quite, quite clear about loving – about loving your enemy." Concluding the interview, Smith commented: "Well, I know you say you've been praying about it. And I hope that you find the wisdom in order to do the right thing, as the next couple of days unfold."
Well fancy that: The New York Times has learned what Times Watch has been pointing out for weeks: Not even New Yorkers want a large mosque built two blocks from the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
New York City residents were previously praised by Times reporters like Sheryl Gay Stolberg as better informed and thus more tolerant of the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero than ignorant outsiders.
But a New York Times poll conducted last week showed that New Yorkers don't like the idea of building a mosque near the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks anymore than the rest of the country. In fact, New York City residents (that includes Manhattan and the outer boroughs) oppose it by a 50%-35% margin. Yes, the nationwide opposition to the construction, twice declaimed as a "nativist impulse" by the paper's main political writer Matt Bai, has infected even the tolerant, sophisticated liberals of Manhattan.
Building its story around the poll, reporters Michael Barbaro and Marjorie Connelly reported on last Friday's front page: "New Yorkers Divided Over Islamic Center, Poll Finds." (Actually New Yorkers are more than merely divided but are mostly opposed to the mosque being built near Ground Zero.)
Two-thirds of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque to be relocated to a less controversial site farther away from ground zero in Lower Manhattan, including many who describe themselves as supporters of the project, according to a New York Times poll.
Howard Dean on Tuesday accused Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Laura Ingraham of being part of a "significant hate wing of the Republican Party."
Chatting with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" about the Florida pastor that wants to burn Korans on the upcoming ninth anniversary of 9/11, Dean said, "I think the Republican Party has become the party, this really started back with Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, that appeals to hatred."
He continued, "I don't think the majority of Republicans are haters, but there is a significant hate wing of the Republican Party, including the talk show hosts like Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh and people like that and they don't dare cross them" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Good Morning America's Dan Harris on Monday slipped in an aside about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck that seemed to link the two conservatives to both violence against Muslims and a Florida minister's plan to burn on the Koran on 9/11.
Harris asserted, "It is but a preview of the anger we'll be seeing on the upcoming ninth anniversary of 9/11, now just five days away, which will include an event in Alaska featuring Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, a protest at Ground Zero and a Koran-burning ceremony at a church in Florida." [MP3 audio here.]
After the curious remark, Harris then played a clip of Pastor Terry Jones and added, "Critics say all this rhetoric is fueling anti-Muslim violence."
On Tuesday's American Morning, CNN's Kiran Chetry used General David Petraeus's denunciation of a planned Koran burning by a church to blast the church's pastor for any subsequent deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan: "Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?" Chetry also lectured Pastor Terry Jones over his apparent lack of "refined" Christianity.
Chetry interviewed Pastor Jones 41 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. After asking him why he and his church were planning to burn Korans, the anchor launched into her critique of the minister: "I wanted to let you say your piece, because when I first read this story, I thought there's no way that this could be as bad as it sounds. It appears that it is. You're saying that you're going to burn the holy book of another religion to send a message to the radical elements of that religion, with no thought to the fact that you'd obviously be highly offending everyone in that religion. How do you justify that?"
Later in the segment, Chetry turned theologian and quoted Scripture to Pastor Jones as she continued to question his planned action: "What about turn thy cheek? I mean, this is- you know, Christianity at its most- you know, refined. It's that you just don't act out in violence. You don't act out in any manner of hate, that you turn thy cheek, that you don't rise to the nastiness or the level of payback that your perceived enemies do. I mean, isn't this the exact opposite of what Christ taught all of us to be and to do?"
National Public Radio is strongly urging America to get over its apparently rabid case of Islamophobia. On Sunday night's All Things Considered newscast, anchor Guy Raz played audio clips of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin opposing the Ground Zero Mosque, and then launched into how much this resembles historic anti-Semitism:
In his column today, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof points out that in 1940, 17 percent of the population considered Jews to be a menace to America. Almost every ethnic group in this country has gone through a period of transition when they had to fight to prove that, indeed, they were Americans.
Rabiah Ahmed and a group of Muslim leaders thought their community had to do the same today. So this week, they launched an online video campaign called "My Faith, My Voice."
If you believed the media, you would think that hate crimes against Muslims was a growing epidemic in America.
Just Monday, the New York Times had a front page story hysterically noting a "torrent of anti-Muslim sentiments and a spate of vandalism."
"The knifing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City has also alarmed many American Muslims," wrote Laurie Goodstein in the second paragraph of her article titled "American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?"
Unfortunately, as Michael Doyle reported on August 28, the most recent data concerning hate crimes in this country paint a very different picture than what Goodstein and others in the media have been dishonestly portraying of late:
On Thursday's American Morning, CNN's Deborah Feyerick continued her network's promotion of the charge that "Islamophobia" is growing in the U.S. All but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her one-sided report were from those who agree with this charge, with the sole exception being used an example of someone using "Islam...[as] a political wedge issue."
Anchor Kiran Chetry and substitute anchor Ali Velshi introduced the correspondent's report just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. Chetry stated that "attempted terror attacks aimed at the U.S. have come mostly from Muslim extremists born outside of America" and then claimed that "America's Muslim community though has been quick to warn law enforcement about these potential threats." Velshi added that "the question is, why does it appear that more and more that all Muslims are being portrayed as potential terrorists or as targets of hate."
Feyerick began by citing unnamed "experts will tell you that there's a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to what Islam is all about. Add on politicians spreading rumors that Sharia law- Islamic law- is coming to the United States simply because a group of Americans wants to build a mosque. It's time to ask, what's really going on?" She then noted that the "Islamic center and mosque to be built near Ground Zero is not the only mosque drawing fire. About a dozen others across the country are also under attack, from angry protests and suspected arson in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Temecula, California. American mosques, in some cases, [are] being portrayed as monuments to terror or terror training centers."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is putting some of the blame on both the Tea Party and the Republican Party for what it sees as a growing tide of anti-Muslim anger. CAIR officials said the rise in "Islamophobia" stems from the controversy surrounding the Islamic center and mosque that Muslims plan to build a few blocks from Ground Zero.
"We've seen a really strong uptick in Islamophobia recently - primarily sparked by the controversy over the Manhattan Islamic center," Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's chief spokesman, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. "We've seen hate vandalism at mosques in California; in Tennessee, we had an arson attack; at a mosque in Arlington, Texas, we had an arson attack; and something that wasn't even reported nationwide, in May we had a bomb attack at a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida," he said.
Hooper said the attacks could be driven by many factors: "The question is, why? Is it tied to the November elections? Is it tied to the rise of the Tea Party movement? Is it tied to the economy?" he asked. "I think it's pretty clear that it's been sparked...by these hate groups and their opposition to the Islamic community center in Manhattan."