"They say that the Muslims in America have denounced it, but it wasn't Muslims in America that did this," said the eldest son of the Rev. Billy Graham, who was in the area for a book signing. "The Muslims in America are not the leaders of Islam. Why have they been so silent? I just fear that they're in agreement that this is a just and holy war. Their silence is very scary, very frightening."
Mohamed Elmougy, chairman of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Graham is mistaken because the attack was denounced immediately by the grand imam of Al-Azher University in Egypt, what he called the equivalent of the Vatican.
"He made it clear in every way that people who claim to be Muslim cannot commit an evil act like that," Elmougy said. He said there are "idiots" in every faith who do things in the name of their so-called religion.
Graham said that he is not attacking Muslims. He said he is talking about the Quran and the teaching of Islam.
"There are specific verses targeting infidels, nonbelievers, Jews, Christians," he said.
He pointed to fundraising being done in Saudi Arabia to provide money to the families of suicide bombers who kill innocent Jews. And, he said, churches and missionary schools in Pakistan are being targeted, and Christians are being massacred.
"There are all kinds of belief systems in this world, and I certainly wouldn't want to attack any of them," he said. "But the point is this nation has been attacked, and because I'm drawing attention to the people who did this and asking the questions, `Why did they do this?' and `Is it going to happen again?' all of a sudden I'm a right-wing extremist."
Elmougy said that the Dallas Central Mosque was picketed a few weeks ago by people who called Islam an evil religion.
"People in leadership positions have a moral obligation to weigh their words and actions simply because, whether it is intentional or not, it will result in hate crimes and discrimination and will lead to the violence that everyone is trying to avoid," Elmougy said.
Graham, who was blasted in the media after praying in the name of Jesus while delivering the invocation at President Bush's inauguration, was in the area to sign copies of his recently released book, The Name.
The book touches on the controversy surrounding the name "Jesus."
"You mention the name of Muhammad, and people say, `That's OK.' You mention the name of Buddha, and people say, `That's nice.' You mention the name of Jesus Christ, and it's a sword that divides a room," he said. "No name polarizes a room or a setting like the name of Jesus Christ. And it just makes me believe even more that this is the son of God."