Why Is Bush Afraid of Franklin Graham?

If Bush wants to convince the world this isn't a war against Islam, he needs to tell the Christian leader to stay out of Iraq

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And now the news of Graham's activities is starting to spread in the Muslim media. The publisher of the British Muslim magazine Q-News responded to the reports about Graham by writing in The Guardian, "For the few remaining Muslims who doubted the crusading nature of the coalition forces, the final blow came last week." The website khalifah.com, an Arabic site, reported the news as "Enhancing the conviction among some Arabs and Muslims that the U.S.-led war of aggression on Iraq is part of a new "crusade" campaign."

The activities and rhetoric of American Christian leaders are noticed abroad. When Jerry Falwell said Muhammad was a terrorist it literally triggered riots in India.

Obviously other factors besides the activities of American Christians are helping fuel the notion that this is an anti-Islam war. But this is one that the White House could almost certainly control--if it so chooses.

Not only will the White House not rebuke Graham, but the Christian leader told Beliefnet he's been in "daily contact" with US Government officials involved in the humanitarian effort and has never heard any concerns expressed. "We would not go in and participate in something that would embarrass our administration," Graham says. But he added, "We don't work for the U.S. Government, so we don't get our permission from them."

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Ouch.

I have tremendous respect for Franklin Graham. His humanitarian missions and spiritual writings have brought comfort and inspiration to millions. Indeed, Beliefnet has published some of his writings and his book has even been advertised on this site.

So it's with some trepidation that I write that Graham's activities not only undermine long-term strategic objectives but may even put American troops at risk right now by helping to fuel anti-American sentiment among Iraqis.

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Steven Waldman
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