Nothing to see here: Right-wing media dismiss notion of nationwide "Islamophobia"

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

In recent days, right-wing media have dismissed the idea of a nationwide "Islamophobia." In fact, there has been a well-documented trend of "Islamophobia" throughout the country in the wake of the right wing's extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric over the planned Islamic community center in Manhattan.

Ignoring recent anti-Muslim incidents, right-wing media dismiss nationwide trend of "Islamophobia"

Jonah Goldberg: "There isn't an anti-Muslim climate." In an August 26 column, titled, "The Islamophobia myth," Jonah Goldberg addressed a recent attack on a Muslim cab driver in New York City and wrote: "It's unavoidable that many will cite this as proof of the national wave of 'Islamophobia,' touted by Time magazine and other media outlets. We'll have to wait for the facts, but even if the allegations prove true, one assault doesn't a national trend make." Goldberg further asserted, "There isn't an anti-Muslim climate."

NY Post: "Certainly, there is no cresting wave of bigotry about to roll over Muslims in America." In an August 26 editorial, the New York Post also addressed the attack and stated, "[S]o far there is scant evidence of broad, anti-Islamic attacks." The Post later added: "Certainly, there is no cresting wave of bigotry about to roll over Muslims in America: There are now slightly more than 100 such attacks each year -- this in a nation of 310-plus million people."

However, mosques throughout U.S. have recently suffered vandalism

Vandalism at California mosque reportedly investigated as a hate crime; vandalism made reference to "Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero." An August 25 Fresno Bee article reported that "[v]andalism to a Madera Islamic center and signs found on the property are being investigated as a hate crime." The article stated that a brick was thrown through a window and that signs reading, "No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB"; "Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB"; and "American Nationalist Brotherhood" were found at the mosque.

AP: "Foes of proposed mosques have deployed dogs to intimidate Muslims holding prayer." On August 8, The Associated Press reported on incidents of anti-Muslim vandalism in Tennessee and California, noting that "[f]oes of proposed mosques have deployed dogs to intimidate Muslims holding prayer services and spray painted 'Not Welcome' on a construction sign, then later ripped it apart." The AP further reported:

The 13-story, $100 million Islamic center that could soon rise two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks would dwarf the proposals elsewhere, yet the smaller projects in local communities are stoking a sharper kind of fear and anger than has showed up in New York.

In the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer. They are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

"They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group," said Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators recently who wore "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts and carried signs that said: "No Sharia law for USA!," referring to the Islamic code of law. Others took their opposition further, spray painting the sign announcing the "Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro" and tearing it up.

In Temecula, Calif., opponents brought dogs to protest a proposed 25,000-square-foot mosque that would sit on four acres next to a Baptist church. Opponents worry it will turn the town into haven for Islamic extremists, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members.

Anti-Islam graffiti found at Texas mosque, and is reportedly thought to be related to Park51 protests. According to a local WFAA News 8 report, vandals spray-painted "[s]tick-figure graffiti ... depicting Uncle Sam sexually assaulting Allah" on the parking lot of a mosque in Arlington, Texas. The report also noted that a playground behind the mosque was set on fire, and quoted the mosque's president, Jamal Qaddura, as saying that "whoever did this might also have tried to burn the mosque itself by pulling apart old gas lines." Qaddura also said "that he believes the damage may be linked to resentment over a planned Islamic community center near Ground Zero in Manhattan."

Islamic Center of Northeast Florida was firebombed. Jacksonville, Florida's, First Coast News reported that on May 10, a man attempted to firebomb the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida "shortly before evening prayers." The Florida Times-Union later reported that "[a]uthorities found remnants of a crude pipe bomb in the explosion" and that "at the time of the blast about 60 people were inside." The article quoted FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jim Casey as discussing the potential destruction and death the blast could have caused were it not for "the strength of the mosque building." The article also reported that "law enforcement officials" were surprised that "they had not gotten nearly as many calls as they expected" regarding the identity of the bomber after they released security video of the man. From The Florida Times-Union:

A day after releasing security video of the man suspected of firebombing a Jacksonville mosque, law enforcement officials acknowledged they had not gotten nearly as many calls as they expected.

"Someone out there knows who this person is," said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jim Casey of Jacksonville office. "Anyone who recognizes this individual needs to contact us."

[...]

This was not a harmless prank," Casey said. "We found shrapnel from the blast a hundred yards away close to [Florida] 9A."

At the time of the blast about 60 people were inside. The firebomb caused minor damage to the building. There were no injuries.

Casey said the minor damage was primarily due to the strength of the mosque building. If anyone had been closer to the blast, they would have been injured or killed, he said.

Florida church plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9-11. The Gainesvlle Sun reported on August 18 that the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plans to "set fire to copies of the Quran on Sept. 11." The New York Times reported that Terry Jones, a pastor at the church, posted a sign at the church last year that stated, "Islam is of the devil."

In wake of Park51 controversy, protests of local mosques have occurred nationwide

Staten Island, NY: "Muslim groups have encountered unexpectedly intense opposition to their plans for opening mosques in Lower Manhattan, in Brooklyn and most recently in an empty convent on Staten Island." A June 10 New York Times article reported on opposition to a proposed mosque in Staten Island, New York, that "have focused overwhelmingly on more intangible and volatile issues: fear of terrorism, distrust of Islam and a linkage of the two in opponents' minds." From The New York Times article:

Some opponents have cited traffic and parking concerns. But the objections have focused overwhelmingly on more intangible and volatile issues: fear of terrorism, distrust of Islam and a linkage of the two in opponents' minds.

''Wouldn't you agree that every terrorist, past and present, has come out of a mosque?'' asked one woman who stood up Wednesday night during a civic association meeting on Staten Island to address representatives of a group that wants to convert a Roman Catholic convent into a mosque in the Midland Beach neighborhood.

''No,'' began Ayman Hammous, president of the Staten Island branch of the group, the Muslim American Society -- though the rest of his answer was drowned out by catcalls and boos from among the 400 people who packed the gymnasium of a community center.

[...]

''We are newcomers, and newcomers in America have always had to prove their loyalty,'' said Mahdi Bray, the society's executive director. ''It's an old story. You have to have thick skin.''

That admonition was tested on Wednesday, as irate residents took turns at the microphone, demanding answers from the three Muslim men who had accepted the get-acquainted invitation of the civic association.

''I was on the phone this morning with the F.B.I., and all I want to know from you is why MAS is on the terrorist watch list,'' said Joan Moriello, using the acronym for the Muslim American Society. Her question produced a loud, angry noise from the audience.

Mr. Hammous, a physical therapist who lives on Staten Island, exchanged a puzzled look with two other Muslim men who had joined him on the podium, both officers of the society's Brooklyn branch, which operates a mosque in Bensonhurst and faces opposition to opening another in Sheepshead Bay.

''Your information is incorrect, madam,'' he replied. ''We are not on any watch list.'' The other men, Mohamed Sadeia and Abdel Hafid Djamil, shook their heads in agreement.

The State Department maintains a terrorist watch list for foreign organizations, and the Justice Department has identified domestic groups it considers unindicted co-conspirators in various terror-related prosecutions. The American Muslim Society is on neither of those lists.

Murfreesboro, TN: Mosque opponents are afraid the mosque "will be turned into a terrorist training ground." An August 8 AP article reported on the protests surrounding a proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by noting that "opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer. They are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government." From the AP:

In the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer. They are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

"They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group," said Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators recently who wore "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts and carried signs that said: "No Sharia law for USA!," referring to the Islamic code of law. Others took their opposition further, spray painting the sign announcing the "Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro" and tearing it up.

Temecula, CA: "Foes of proposed mosques have deployed dogs to intimidate Muslims holding prayer services and spray painted 'Not Welcome' on a construction sign." The AP also reported, "In Temecula, Calif., opponents brought dogs to protest a proposed 25,000-square-foot mosque that would sit on four acres next to a Baptist church. Opponents worry it will turn the town into haven for Islamic extremists, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members." An August 19 Christian Science Monitor article further reported:

Protesters with bullhorns have shown up during afternoon prayers at the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in California.

The Muslim group there hopes to erect a 24,000 square foot mosque and Islamic center on some vacant land it owns.

The protesters were mainly concerned about Islam, carrying such signs as "No Allah Law Here."

The mosque has also been criticized by Bill Rench, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, which would be the mosque's neighbor. Mr. Rench has told the Monitor in the past, "We don't want to do anything that encourages Islam."

But the imam of the mosque, who has the support of a local interfaith council, has tried to mend fences with Rench, offering to explain Islam. "I would like to have a meeting with the pastor," Imam Mahmoud Harmoush told the Monitor earlier.

So far, mosque officials say that effort has not been successful.

Officials hope to complete the mosque at the end of next year.

Florence, KY: "Stop the Mosque," and "the takeover of our country." The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) reported in an August 16 article that a planned mosque in Florence, Kentucky, has drawn protests. From the article:

Florence city officials say they have gotten several calls about the proposed worship center and a flier is being distributed in the city's neighborhoods.

There is also a website run by a Boone County resident that posts anti-Islamic messages and encourages people to "Stop the Mosque."

[...]

"Cayton Road is in your neighborhood," the flier states. "Everyone needs to contact Florence City Council to have this stopped. Americans need to stop the takeover of our country."

Protesters at Connecticut mosque reportedly chanted "hate-filled slogans." An August 9 New Haven Register article reported that "Connecticut Muslim leaders are urging public officials and police to assure they can worship without being harassed after members of a Dallas-based group showed up outside a Bridgeport mosque Friday chanting what have been described as hate-filled slogans." The article further reported:

The organization involved in the Bridgeport incident, Operation Save America, is primarily an anti-abortion group that was once known as Operation Rescue.

But members of the group stood outside the mosque as worshippers prepared for the upcoming observance of Ramadan, according to Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of Connecticut office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and chanted hate-filled slogans. Dhaouadi said the protesters said things like, "Islam is a lie" and "Jesus hates Muslims."

Anti-Park51 protests have been full of right-wing hate

Anti-Park51 protesters harass African-American man at Park51 protest. The Huffington Post noted on August 23 that "opponents of a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero accosted a black man who tried to navigate through a crowd of anti-mosque protesters." The Huffington Post included video of the incident.

AP reports on anti-Muslim rhetoric at Park51 protest, including protesters who believe Sharia law to be based in violence and that the organizers behind Park51 are "the same people who took down the twin towers." An August 23 Associated Press article on an anti-Park51 which occurred that day, reported:

Signs hoisted by dozens of protesters standing behind police barricades read "SHARIA" -- using dripping, blood-red letters to describe Islam's Shariah law, which governs the behavior of Muslims.

Steve Ayling, a 40-year-old Brooklyn plumber who carried his sign to a dry spot by an office building, said the people behind the mosque project are "the same people who took down the twin towers."

[...]

On a nearby sidewalk, police chased away a group that unfurled a banner with images of beating, stoning and other torture they said was committed by those who followed Islamic law.

A mannequin wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, was mounted on one of two mock missiles that were part of an anti-mosque installation. One missile was inscribed with the words: "Again? Freedom Targeted by Religion"; the other with "Obama: With a middle name Hussein. We understand. Bloomberg: What is your excuse?"

[...]

"This is sacred ground and it's where my son was buried," the native Israeli from Queens said. She said the mosque would be "like a knife in our hearts."

She was joined by a close friend, Kobi Mor, who flew from San Francisco to participate in the rally.

If the mosque gets built, "we will bombard it," Mor said. He would not elaborate but added that he believes the project "will never happen."

Reuters: One sign read: "Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Islam I Learned on 9/11." According to a Reuters report on the August 22 protest, "One sign read: 'Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Islam I Learned on 9/11.'" From Reuters:

Many in the crowd opposing the center were firefighters and construction workers, who carried signs reading: "This is Sacred Ground to New Yorkers."

One sign read: "Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Islam I Learned on 9/11."

Protest sign: "Islam + Shariah Law = Barborism (sic)." Fox news aired footage of the August 22 protest showing a sign which read, "Islam + Shariah law = Barborism [sic]." From the August 23 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

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Numerous signs depict "Sharia" written in blood: As the AP reported, during the August 22 protest, "Signs hoisted by dozens of protesters standing behind police barricades read 'SHARIA' -- using dripping, blood-red letters to describe Islam's Shariah law, which governs the behavior of Muslims."

protestsign2

Installation featured Muslim in keffiyeh riding a missile that said "Again? Freedom Targeted by Religion." The AP reported that at the August 22 protest, "A mannequin wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, was mounted on one of two mock missiles that were part of an anti-mosque installation. One missile was inscribed with the words: 'Again? Freedom Targeted by Religion.'" The AP added that the second missile said, "Obama: With a middle name Hussein. We understand. Bloomberg: What is your excuse?"

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Sign: "No clubhouse for terrorists." A Reuters photograph of the August 22 protest shows a man holding a sign, saying, "No Clubhouse for Terrorists."

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Protest sign: "We don't need a monument to those who attacked our country at ground zero." A different Reuters photograph of the August 22 protest shows a man holding the following sign:

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Protest sign: "Islam is no longer a legitimate religion." From the New York Post:

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Previous Park51 protests also featured inflammatory imagery and rhetoric

Protest sign: "Building a Mosque at Ground Zero is Like Building a memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz." The August 2 broadcast of Fox News' Happening Now featured footage of a recent protest against Park51, which included a sign that read, "Building a Mosque at Ground Zero is Like Building a memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz." From Happening Now:

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Protest sign: "Proud to be an Islamophobe." Happening Now also showed footage of an anti-Park 51 protester which read, "Jesus died to save you Allah wants you to kill for him! Proud to be an Islamophobe." From Happening Now:

protestsign9

Protest sign: "Islam = Hate"; "Islam = terrorist"; "Islam = Killing." Eye on the World blog posted a "photo report" from Pam Geller's June 6 Park51 protest. Geller linked to the "photo report" in a blog post touting her protest. From Eye on the World:

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Protest sign invokes Nazis, calls Islam "the Enemy." From Eye on the World's "photo report":

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Protest sign: "Mosques Breed Radical Islam ... Radical Islam Breeds Terrorists." From Eye of the World:

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Protest sign compares mosque to a toilet, asks, "Do you want this built on Ground Zero? I don't!!!!!" From Eye of the World's complete "anti-mosque protest" photo gallery:

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Protest sign: "Islam Kills." From Eye of the World's complete "anti-mosque protest" photo gallery:

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Right-wing media have relentlessly attacked Park 51 and Islam, often with extreme rhetoric

Gingrich compares Islamic center to Nazis erecting sign near Holocaust museum, Japanese site near Pearl Harbor. On the August 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Newt Gingrich said: "Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."

Nugent: "The mosque will attract extremists and radicals who will try to harm America." In an August 19 Washington Times op-ed attacking Park51, Ted Nugent wrote that "[t]he mosque will attract extremists and radicals who will try to harm America." Nugent repeatedly referred to Islam as a "voodoo religion" and concluded, "If additional American blood is spilled in the Big Apple, the politicians who supported this mosque will be as guilty as the Muslim voodoo kooks who love death and destruction in the name of Allah."

Cal Thomas repeatedly suggests Park51 would be a terrorist front. In an August 3 column, conservative commentator Cal Thomas wrote: "Ask yourself: if you wanted to infiltrate a country, wouldn't a grand strategy be to rapidly build mosques from Ground Zero in New York, to Temecula, Calif., and establish beachheads so fanatics could plan and advance their strategies under the cover of religious freedom and that great American virtue known as 'tolerance,' which is being used against us?" In a July 21 post on The Washington Post's On Faith blog, Thomas wrote:

A mosque near Ground Zero is not about tolerance, but triumphalism. It isn't about honoring the dead, but celebrating their deaths.

[...]

Don't we know why our enemies desire a beachhead in America? They wish to launch new terror attacks and forcibly convert Americans to their way of thinking and believing. What will we gain by allowing this to happen?

Morris: Park 51 will be used to "train and recruit Sharia law advocates who become terrorists." On the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dick Morris cited a study that he claimed said "80 percent of the mosques ... teach Sharia law as the main event." Morris later claimed that Park 51 will be used to "study and promote and train and recruit Sharia law advocates, which, who become terrorists."

Morris: "[T]hese Sharia mosques ... have become the command center for terrorists" and Park51 "would be, too." On the August 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion of Park51, Morris claimed "these Sharia mosques ... have become the command centers for terrorists," adding, "so this one would be, too."

Bolling: Park51 "may be a meeting place for some of the scariest minds -- some of the biggest terrorist minds." On the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Eric Bolling claimed that Park51 "may be a meeting place for some of the scariest minds -- some of the biggest terrorist minds."

Kilmeade: "The next Hamburg cell could be right downtown." During the discussion with Bolling on the August 19 Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said of Park51, "The next Hamburg cell could be right downtown." A terrorist cell in Hamburg, Germany, whose members would later become the 9-11 hijackers, is believed to be the origin of the 9-11 plot.

Limbaugh suggests Park51 would be a "recruiting tool for domestic extremists." On the August 3 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated that if the Guantanamo Bay detention center "is a recruiting tool for foreign extremists, what about a World Trade Center mosque being a recruiting tool for domestic extremists?"

Fox guest suggests Islamic cultural center is intended to "trumpet" Muslim conquest. On the August 16 edition of Fox & Friends, guest Jeanine Pirro -- former Republican candidate for New York state attorney general -- said, "I think the whole idea of the mosque is outrageous, and if you're a student of history, you know that mosques are often built to trumpet their victories."

Franklin Graham: "True Islam" can't be practiced in U.S. because "you cannot beat your wife, you cannot do honor killings." On the August 19 broadcast of CNN's John King USA, Franklin Graham repeated his frequent attacks on Islam, claiming that "remember true Islam cannot be practiced here in this country. You cannot beat your wife. You cannot do honor killing if you think your daughter has been misbehaved. You cannot kill her. And they're protected by the laws of this country. We're not under Sharia law. We're under the Constitution of the United States. And so we're protected."

Beck asks, "[A]fter you've killed 3,000 people, you're going to now build your mosque?" On his August 18 radio show, Glenn Beck said of Park51, "You look for things that are uniting, I'm sorry, but the Cordoba Project is not uniting. If you wanted to unite people, you don't spit in their face. You don't spit in their face. On the 10th anniversary, after you've killed 3,000 people, you're going to now build your mosque on there, really?" Beck has repeatedly falsely claimed that Park51 was scheduled to open on September 11, 2011. He has also referred to the Islamic center as "the 9-11 mosque" and has wondered if it is "a possibility" that Park51's location is about "inoculation."

Limbaugh calls Islamic center "a victory monument at Ground Zero." On August 17, Limbaugh called Park51 "a victory monument at Ground Zero, which is what this mosque is." He added: "The real question is why do people who don't like this country want that mosque there? What is so important about having it there?"

Palin calls Park 51 a "stab in the heart" for Americans and a "slap" to 9-11 victims. During the August 16 edition of Fox News' On the Record, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin claimed that it was "an insensitive move on the part of those Muslims who want to build that mosque in this location. It feels like a stab in the heart to, collectively, Americans who still have that lingering pain from 9-11." Palin later said, "[T]his is a slap to those innocent victims who were murdered that day on 9-11."

Hoft dubs Park 51 the "Ground Zero Victory Mosque." In an August 16 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft touted Fox News' Bill O'Reilly's criticism of Obama's comments about Park 51 and described the Islamic community center as the "Ground Zero Victory Mosque."

Washington Times: "If the mosque is constructed, the terrorists win." In an August 19 editorial, The Washington Times stated of the planned Islamic community center in New York City: "The Ground Zero Mosque is not healing a rift but deepening a wound. If the mosque is constructed, the terrorists win."

Beck on Park51: "Why don't we build it on the graves of people that lost their lives?" On his August 16 radio show, Beck asked, "Why don't we build it on the graves of people that lost their lives?" Beck added, "Where are the American Muslims" speaking out against the Islamic community center?"

BigPeace.com: Violence against women is "taking place almost exclusively from within Islamic communities." An August 9 post on Andrew Brietbart's BigPeace.com claims that "previously unimagined assaults on women and girls are taking place almost exclusively from within Islamic communities." In fact, the problem of violence against women is widespread and not exclusive to any one community.

Geller absurdly compared NYC mosque to building a KKK "shrine" near black Alabama church. On the August 11 edition of Fox & Friends, Geller absurdly compared building an Islamic cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York to building a Ku Klux Klan "shrine" near a black church in Alabama.

Texas right-wing radio host on Park51: "I hope somebody blows it up." While discussing Park51 on his May 26 radio show, as Think Progress reported, right-wing Houston radio host Michael Berry said, "I'll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up."

Geller launches "Leaving Islam" campaign, attacks Park51 as "stab[bing] Americans in the eye." On May 27, Fox & Friends hosted Geller to discuss her "Leaving Islam" campaign, in which she targets people who want to "leave Islam" because it is a "danger" for them to do so. Geller denied that she was encouraging people to "leave Islam." She also touted her "effort" to protest Park51 and wondered why "they would want to stab Americans in the eye" by building the center near the site of the World Trade Center.

Kilmeade asks if the "Islamic community" is "gloating" by building Park51 near Ground Zero. On May 26, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "Six-hundred feet from World Tower 1, World Trade Center 1 stood, is this gloating on the part of the Islamic community?" Guest Andrew McCarthy said that this was "Islamist supremacism" and that "well-meaning people would know that this is an affront to common sense." Kilmeade had previously described the Islamic center plans as "an outrage" and accused Muslims of "taunting" 9-11 victims.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
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