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Robertson defends comments about Islam


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson Sunday defended his comments last week that Islam is not a peaceful religion, but said he was not trying to stoke the fires of prejudice.

"Mohammed said the second most important duty of a follower of Islam is to wage jihad against the infidels," Robertson told CNN's Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer. "It is very clear in the Quran and in his writing and in his words what he intended."

Robertson said he was only trying to sound an "alarm because this country is under attack."

"I think people ought to be aware of what we're dealing with," he said. "You haven't heard me say Islam is evil ... I merely said that the founder of Islam preached violence."

But a spokesman for the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Hussein Ibish, called Robertson's comments a "silly, vicious game" in which he is taking isolated passages from the Quran out of context to paint an inaccurate picture of Islam and Muslims.

"You can go into any of these great religious texts and pull out quotes randomly here and there to prove all kinds of things. You can prove the religion is peaceful, you can prove it's violent," Ibish told CNN.

"I could come here ... with quotes from the Talmud and quotes from the Bible and try to paint Judaism and Christianity, or any other religion, in this negative light, too," he said.

Last week on his television show, "The 700 Club," Robertson took issue with President Bush's description of Islam as a peaceful religion. He said the Koran calls on Muslims to kill non-believers.

Sunday, he quoted the Quran: "Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them. Seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them. Fight them. Allah will punish them."

"That is the message that's coming out of the mosques. It is the message that is coming from many of these mullahs all over the Muslim world," Robertson said. "You're not hearing Christian ministers telling people to go kill Muslims.

"I love Muslims. I don't want to hurt anybody. I think we're a religion of love," he said. We don't preach hate, but this is the message of Mohammed."

But Ibish said Robertson's comments were a "slightly warmed over, slightly rehashed version" of the anti-Semitism directed against Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by "right-wing extremists like the Reverend Robertson."

"What he's saying overall is, 'Look, in our midst, next to you, there are Muslim neighbors ... They may seem to be normal, reasonable people, but actually they are not. They are different from us. They have a different value system. They hate our culture. They hate our country. They worship an alien and hostile God. They're trying to take over, destabilize and undermine our Western Christian way of life.' "




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