- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said yesterday the news media and political leaders have failed to educate Americans about violence in the Koran and in Islamic history and wishes President Bush had never said that "Islam is a religion of peace."
"He is not elected as chief theologian," Mr. Robertson said.
It would have been better for the president to speak only politically about the Islamic world, and not religiously.
"It is leading to needless confusion," Mr. Robertson said in an interview with The Washington Times.
Mr. Robertson's comments in the past year have been a major part of the public debate on how a predominantly Christian nation responds to a foreign enemy with Islamic roots.
The public would be better served, Mr. Robertson said, if the media would investigate the content of the Koran and what he says are many passages that incite Muslims to kill nonbelievers. But reporting on that, he said, "is not politically correct."
He said that the violence visited on Christians in many nations, such as Sudan and Nigeria, arises from Shariah, or Muslim law, showing that the violent behavior is tied to Islamic beliefs.
Though Mr. Robertson relinquished his Baptist ordination to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, he has taken it up again and describes his primary work as promoting Christianity.
For 18 years, his Christian Broadcasting Network had an Arab-language broadcast station in Lebanon, but he said that "it was overrun by Hezbollah," a terrorist group.
"In terms of Islam, I don't think the issues have been ventilated at all in the press because no one has read the Koran," he said.
Still, he said civil liberties in the United States are too important to allow the U.S. government the extra powers of domestic surveillance that it is asking for and that law-abiding Muslim citizens also must have protection.
"I have never advocated ferreting out Muslims in America," he said. "They are citizens like I am. But if they are funneling money to Hamas, organizing terrorist cells or holding anti-American rallies, they ought to be deported."
U.S. Muslim groups have organized a yearlong project to put a package of books and a PBS video on Islam, all by American authors, in the nation's 16,000 public libraries to promote understanding of the religion.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that supporters have sent in 4,219 "sponsorships" of $150 each to pay for the library package, but the number of libraries accepting them is not yet clear.
"It's a yearlong campaign, and it will take a year or so to sort that [number] out," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
Last week, Mr. Hooper said on a New York radio show that conservative religious leaders such as Mr. Robertson were "equivalent" to Osama bin Laden because they want to divide the world into a religious war.
When asked whether Christian leaders would urge killing members of a different faith as bin Laden has done, Mr. Hooper said: "Given the right circumstance, these guys would do the same in the opposite direction."
Though CAIR often demands apologies from groups that criticize Islam, Mr. Hooper would not apologize for his radio comment.
He also confirmed reports that a Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, donated $500,000 to CAIR for the educational push. "I think most of it is going for the library project," Mr. Hooper said.
The report about the Saudi money prompted conservative activist Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, yesterday to say that while libraries have intellectual freedom, the library packages "present a highly misleading view of Islam, spray-painting over the religion's long history of animosity to Western values."
He called for the American Library Association to issue a statement on the problems with stocking a one-sided view of Islam and urged the use of materials written by his foundation's staff.
Mr. Hooper said a positive image of Islam is important to protect the civil rights of Muslims in the United States. He cited the FBI report yesterday that "hate crimes" against people of Middle Eastern ethnicity had increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 across the country.
Mr. Robertson said he opposed as "bad law" the government's plans, even in a time of war, to electronically track the lives of all Americans.
"As the war on terrorism is going forward, the thing I'm concerned about is how much government control they'll have" on Americans' domestic life, he said.
Meanwhile, he said his main business is not Islam but Christian evangelism.
"I don't want to change my ministry and become some kind of Muslim fighter," he said. "I don't want to alienate Muslim people around the world," whom he believes want more information about the West and even Christianity.
But Islam is "a deeply held religious belief pushed by mullahs all over the world" as a basis for attacking Jews and Christians, he said. "Maybe we can counter it by American propaganda. Maybe we can counter it by love."


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