Minister denies he is ‘extremist’

Dallas Morning News, Aug. 14, 2002

IRVING, Texas – The Rev. Franklin Graham, who has been in the news recently for his comments about Islam, says he’s still bothered that top Islamic leaders haven’t denounced the Sept. 11 attack on America.

“They say that the Muslims in America have denounced it, but it wasn’t Muslims in America that did this,” said the eldest son of the Rev. Billy Graham, who was in the Dallas area Monday for a book signing. “The Muslims in America are not the leaders of Islam. Why have they been so silent? I just fear that they’re in agreement that this is a just and holy war. Their silence is very scary, very frightening.”

Mohamed Elmougy, chairman of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Graham was mistaken because the attack was denounced immediately by the grand imam of Al-Azher University in Egypt, what he called the equivalent of the Vatican.

“He made it clear in every way that people who claim to be Muslim cannot commit an evil act like that,” Elmougy said. He said there are “idiots” in every faith who do things in the name of their so-called religion.

Graham said that he was not attacking Muslims. He said he was talking about the Quran and the teaching of Islam.

“There are specific verses targeting infidels, nonbelievers, Jews, Christians,” he said.
He pointed to fund-raising being done in Saudi Arabia to provide money to the families of suicide bombers who kill innocent Jews. And, he said, churches and missionary schools in Pakistan are being targeted, and Christians are being massacred.

“There are all kinds of belief systems in this world, and I certainly wouldn’t want to attack any of them,” he said. “But the point is this nation has been attacked, and because I’m drawing attention to the people who did this and asking the questions, “Why did they do this?’ and “Is it going to happen again?’ all of a sudden I’m a right-wing extremist.”

After Graham’s appearance last week on Fox Television’s “Hannity & Colmes,” the national chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations referred to him as one of the growing number of “extremist right-wing and evangelical commentators who seek to demonize Islam and Muslims.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 16, 2002.
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