Conservative talk-show host Michael Graham was suspended without pay on Thursday, July 28 by ABC Disney following threats by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) over his on-air comments regarding terrorism and Islam.
The suspension came despite repeated statements of support for Graham’s free-speech right by management at 630 WMAL in Washington, D.C.; the ABC owned stations where Graham had worked as mid-morning host. The suspension is pending an “investigation” of comments he made regarding Islam’s ties to terrorism.
"I honestly don't know what Disney is investigating me for, unless it's for doing a compelling talk show that gets people's attention," Graham said. "I thought that was my job."
Graham was harshly criticized by CAIR for public comments linking the current theology and structure of Islam to the repeated acts of terror in its name. CAIR sent mass e-mails to its members urging them to contact ABC and demand the company punish Graham for his remarks.
The statements at the heart of the controversy reflect Graham's opinion that, as he puts it, "Because of the mix of Islamic theology that -- rightly or wrongly -- is interpreted to promote violence, added to an organizational structure that allows violent radicals to operate openly in Islam's name with impunity, Islam has, sadly, become a terrorist organization. It pains me to say it. But the good news is it doesn't have to stay this way, if the vast majority of Muslims who don't support terror will step forward and reclaim their religion."
Ironically, CAIR announced today that a group of US Muslim scholars were issuing a fatwa against terrorism. In an ironic twist, according to Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR, the fatwa was issued in part due to criticism from talk radio hosts like Michael Graham.
"Nearly four years after the World Trade Center fell, CAIR is participating in a blanket denunciation of terrorism, and my attitude is "better late than never." If our conversation on 630 WMAL helped CAIR finally take this long-needed step, then we've done something good for the future of Islam," Graham said.
The fatwa, signed by many Muslims with suspicious ties to terrorism, appears to be nothing but a smokescreen, designed to provide political coverage to groups like CAIR who are increaseingly coming under scrutiny from law enforcement. When we consider it took almost four years for the fatwa to be issued, we have to ask why did it take so long?
The fatwa says much about “extremism” and “terrorism”, but does not define what they are. In addition, Muzammil H. Siddiqi, head of the Fiqh Council, says ``Suicide bombing is forbidden in Islam'' but doesn’t define what suicide bombing is. These are important questions when we observe that numerous such fatwa’s issued worldwide in the past several years have done nothing to stop either suicide attacks nor terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam.
Considering CAIR’s checkered past, why were they allowed to place their name on the fatwa in the first place? Both Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad are both founders and former officials of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP).
Where are the names of the terrorist organizations and personalities in the fatwa? Is it possible CAIR did not want to offend their fellow travelers in Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and Hizbollah? Or could it be that, in CAIR’s opinion, that the only terrorists are Israel and the United States?
In addition to Ahmad and Awad’s ties to IAP, Randall Royer, CAIR official, was indicted on terrorism-related charges and later copped to a lesser firearms-related charge and is currently serving 20 years in prison. Then there is Ghassan Elashi, founder of CAIR's Texas chapter, who was convicted in 2004 along with his four brothers of having illegally shipped computers to both Libya an Syria, who are listed as state sponsors of terrorism. However, it gets better: in 2005, Elashi and two brothers were also convicted on charges of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader and Specially Designated Terrorist.
There is an old saying, “tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” If this old adage is true, CAIR certainly isn’t the “Muslim civil rights” organization it pretends to be.
CAIR’s attack on Graham is an insult to all Americans who value the truth for several reasons. First, he didn’t say anything that isn’t true; secondly, he didn’t offer gratuitious pot-shots at Islam designed to inflame or incite hate; finally, CAIR has rarely failed to miss an opportunity to insult America…for them to claim Graham has insulted Islam is beyond laughable…it is disengenous…and dangerous, if CAIR gets its way.
To contact ABC Radio in Washington and express your opinion about their decision to cave into pressure from CAIR, call the General Manager, Chris Berry, at 202-686-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Whitehead is the head of Anti-Cair (www.anti-cair-net.org) and a contributing writer to the Israel Resource News Agency.