From Washington, D.C. to Minneapolis to Charlotte, Franklin Graham is promoting his new book and criticizing Islam.
Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and heir of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said on Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes” that Muslim clerics had not condemned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“When people go up and blow themselves up, and the religious leaders of this religion say nothing, something’s wrong,” he said.
Graham said, “It’s not just a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, and it’s in there. The violence that it preaches is there.”
A few days later in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Minneapolis, Graham said, “Why haven’t Muslim clerics from around the world gathered at ground zero, held hands together and prayed to Allah for forgiveness and told the American people this is not Islam? Because they believe it was right. This is a just cause—their jihad.”
Graham also told the Star Tribune, “Our forefathers never wanted us to eliminate religion. They were Christians who came. They weren’t Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or Muslims. They were looking for freedom to worship God, and they ensured religious freedom for everyone who followed them.”
At a book signing in Charlotte, Graham repeated his criticism of Islam, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Associated Press reported that Graham said in a Charlotte radio interview, “The silence of the clerics around the world is frightening to me.”
Graham, author of The Name, asked, “How come they haven’t reassured the American people that this is not true Islam and that these people are not acting in the name of Allah, they’re not acting in the name of Islam?”
Like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Jerry Vines, Graham has frequently attacked Islam.
After he called Islam “wicked” last November, the White House distanced itself from Graham, who had preached at President Bush’s inaugural prayer service.
Graham then issued a statement in which he said, “My calling and focus is to proclaim the God of the Christian faith to all … people regardless of their faith.”
Despite saying in November that he did “not intend to comment further,” Graham wrote in a December Wall Street Journal column that his recent statements had been “greatly misunderstood.”
“I do not believe Muslims are evil people because of their faith,” he wrote. “I personally have many Muslim friends. But I decry the evil that has been done in the name of Islam, or any other faiths—including Christianity.”
Graham’s most recent and repeated remarks drew sharp criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Mainstream political leaders and religious figures must speak out against the growing demonization of Islam by extremist ring-wing commentators and by the representatives of the evangelical Christian community,” a CAIR spokesman said in a press release. “Defamatory attacks on other faiths can only lead to a spiral of distrust and intolerance that will divide our society along religious lines.”