Islamic leader blames talk shows

Oct. 3, 2001 at 2:08 PM
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HOUSTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- An Islamic leader in Houston said radio talk shows are partly to blame for the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has surfaced since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Sayeed Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, called on talk radio hosts to tone down the rhetoric on their shows.

"What we're hearing is that our talk show hosts are basically riling up the people," he said at a Tuesday news conference.

"In a way, they are responsible."

Siddiqui did not name any specific programs or radio stations.

Dan Patrick, who hosts a talk show on Houston's KSEV, called the charge ridiculous.

"Talk radio is just the whipping boy for any special interest these days," he told the Houston Chronicle.

During the news conference, the victims of two alleged hate crimes gave new details.

Hassan Al-Asfur, an Iraqi, was shot in the leg in southwest Houston on Sept. 21, and Hasnain Javed, a Pakistani student, said he was beaten up in a Mississippi jail cell.

Al-Asfur said he was seated in his car when someone came up and spoke to him in Arabic. When he responded, he said the assailant said, "Your people killed my people." In the struggle, Al-Asfur was shot in the leg. No arrest has been made.

Al-Asfur sought asylum in the United States after fighting against Saddam Hussein's government and he does not blame all Americans for what happened to him.

"In Iraq, there was no freedom," he said. "But here there is freedom and there is justice and there is law."

Houston police said the crime is being officially investigated as an aggravated robbery, but it was also being reviewed as a possible hate crime.

Javed was being held in the Mississippi jail Sept. 19 for immigration authorities when he told reporters he was beaten by other inmates who knew he was a Pakistani.

Sheriff Mike Ballard, who controls the Stone County Correctional Facility in Wiggins, Miss., told reporters during the weekend that Javed was attacked after shouting obscenities at other inmates. Javed denied that during the Houston news conference.

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