Radio host Michael Berry criticized the decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds by positing that if the gunman were Muslim, no one would be calling to “outlaw the Koran” or mosques in response.
On his June 23 show, Berry, who is an outspoken proponent of the Confederate battle flag, criticized the calls to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in response to the fatal shootings of nine black church members on June 17. Dylann Storm Roof, who has been charged with the attack, told law enforcement officials he was influenced by white supremacists, who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs. Berry said taking down the flag made no sense because when a Muslim commits a terrorist attack -- something he falsely claimed is more likely than an attack by a non-Muslim -- there aren't any calls to “outlaw the Koran” or to “outlaw mosques.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, attacks on Muslims after 9/11 “skyrocketed some 1,600%,” and as recently as 2010, some 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed. North Carolina and Florida have passed “anti-sharia” laws, and as The New York Times reported, towns in Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin have tried to stop the construction or expansion of mosques.
Right-wing media has helped fuel anti-Islamic sentiment by pushing Islamophobic rhetoric and calling for bans of Korans and mosques. Berry himself was opposed to the building of a mosque near the World Trade Center site and said that if it were built, he hoped “somebody blows it up.”
Berry is also wrong when he says that Muslims are more likely than non-Muslims to commit terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. As The New York Times pointed out, a new study by the policy think tank New America found that “non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 [terrorist] attacks since Sept. 11 [...] by comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.” In addition, “Nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”