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DC Radio Host Suspended Over Anti-Islam Remarks

July 29, 2005

ACTION REQUESTED:

Contact WMAL to ask that Michael Graham be fired (WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/29/05) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded a Washington, D.C., radio station's decision to suspend without pay a talk show host who stated repeatedly that “Islam is a terrorist organization.” CAIR said WMAL-AM morning host Michael Graham should be fired for his Islamophobic remarks, for other statements made before and after the most recent controversy and for his refusal to apologize for those comments. The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group this week initiated a campaign against WMAL and the station's advertisers after receiving complaints from Muslim listeners who heard Graham state:

1. “Islam is a terrorist organization.”

2. “Islam is at war with America.”

2. Other senators, including Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), are also addressing the issue of torture during the ongoing debate. Contact their offices as well, particularly if they represent your state.

3. “The problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam.”

4. “We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam.”

Other listeners said that Graham even encouraged a public “backlash” against Muslims. (Graham later claimed he meant a backlash of social pressure, not violent attack on Muslims.) In response to his suspension, the Washington Post quoted Graham as saying, “I will not recant.” When first contacted by CAIR, WMAL stood behind Graham, but changed its position after hundreds of people responded to the group's action alerts by contacting the station and its sponsors. In a statement, WMAL President and General Manager Chris Berry said that Graham would be suspended for statements that “crossed the line.” “We do not condone his position and believe his statements were irresponsible,” said Berry. (WMAL is owned by the Walt Disney Co.) SEE: “WMAL Suspends Talk-Show Host for Comment on Islam": http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/28/AR2005072802241.html

“We believe the station's actions are appropriate, if long overdue,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “It is time for WMAL to distance itself and its advertisers from bigotry by making Graham's suspension permanent.” Last year, CAIR challenged on-air remarks by Graham that seemed to make an implicit call for violence against Muslims. He said: “I don't wanna say we should kill ‘em all [Muslims], but unless there's reform [within Islam], there aren't a lot of other solutions that work in the ground struggle for survival.” (Graham later claimed he was only referring to so-called “Islamists,” but the context of the quote indicated otherwise.)

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, please be POLITE.)CONTACT WMAL to urge that Michael Graham's suspension be made permanent.

CONTACT: Mr. Chris Berry, President & General Manager (202-895-2333) Mr. Randall Bloomquist (202-895-2327), Program Director WMAL 4400 Jenifer Street NW Washington DC, 20015 Switchboard: 202-686-3100

FAX: (202) 537-0009 To be on a WMAL talk show, call 202-432-WMAL, toll free 888-630-WMAL.)

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