(RNS) -- President Bush has apologized to American Muslim organizationsfor an incident last week in which a Secret Service agent asked a memberof their delegation to leave a White House meeting, but some delegationmembers say they want Bush to investigate an "alarming trend" ofdiscrimination against American Muslims. "Although we appreciate and accept the President's apology, we arenonetheless very concerned by this latest incident, which is part of analarming trend seemingly targeting American Muslims," read a statementfrom the American Muslim Council, one of the organizations that attendedthe White House meeting. "African-Americans, who represent a significantsegment of the American Muslim community, have been targeted fordecades. We feel the president needs to initiate an investigation intothese types of incidents in order to determine their sources." The council pointed out that they had "supported Bush for his visionof a gentler, compassionate America where all its citizens are treatedwith respect and dignity." "We need strong action to confirm that promise," the statement said. Last Thursday (June 28), about 25 representatives of American Muslimorganizations walked out of a meeting with the Rev. Mark Scott --associate director of the White House Office of Faith-based andCommunity Initiatives -- after the Secret Service asked college studentAbdullah Al-Arian to leave. Al-Arian is an intern in the office of Rep.David Bonior, D-Mich. No reason was given for the request, Faisal Gill, of the AmericanMuslim Council, told Religion News Service.
But some suspect theincident was linked to the political activism of Al-Arian's father. Sami Al-Arian is president of the National Coalition to ProtectPolitical Freedoms, which has battled the U.S. government's use of"secret evidence" (evidence never disclosed to the defense team) indeportation proceedings regarding suspected terrorists. The college student is also the nephew of Mazen Al-Najjar, aPalestinian professor whom the government recently freed after holdinghim in custody for about three years on the basis of secret evidence.The government had claimed to possess evidence that connected the man toa terrorist group. President Bush "is very upset" about Thursday's incident, WhiteHouse Press Secretary Ari Fleischer announced Friday (June 29). "The president is very concerned that an action was taken that waswrong and inappropriate, and the president apologizes for it on behalfof the White House," Fleischer said. "In this one instance, the SecretService made a mistake. They've acknowledged it; they have said so. Theywill continue to say so, and the president is concerned about it to thepoint where he does apologize."