August 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Listen to our complete interview Congressman Joe Walsh:
Republican Congressman Joe Walsh has never been afraid to speak his mind, fully understanding that his comments often infuriate those who disagree. This past week, while speaking at a town hall in Elk Grove Village, the Representative warned his constituents that radical Islam is a “real threat.”
Via CBS Chicago:
“One thing I’m sure of is that there are people in this country – there is a radical strain of Islam in this country – it’s not just over there – trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat, and it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11,” Walsh said.
The comments drew harsh criticism from the executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Ahmed Rehab, who accused Rep. Walsh of “generalizing” a community. “It’s problematic. He’s said a very specific thing about a very general community,” said Rehab.
Listen to our complete interview with CAIR’s Ahmed Rehab:
Rehab believes that general language, such as the term “radical Islam” fuels prejudiced feelings towards his community. “People walk around, they see a woman in a hijab, a man in a beard and they think ‘Oh, that must be the radical Islam that’s hiding in Addison, Elgin, trying to kill me every week,’” said Rehab.
CAIR has come under scrutiny in the past by both sides of the political aisle. In a letter addressed to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) accused the organization of having “intimate links to Hamas.”
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has also voiced his concern regarding CAIR, saying the group is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its assocation with groups that are suspect.”
Rehab says that these allegations are “baseless,” and insists CAIR hasn’t had ties to Hamas or any other radical group. “We’re not linked to Hamas. [It's an] assumption that we were linked to Hamas and now we’re trying to move away from that. It’s not true, it never was true, and it will never be true,” Rehab told us.
The Representative from Illinois’ 8th congressional district isn’t buying Rehab’s claims. “CAIR is not a legitimate group, period,” said Walsh. “You want specifics, I’ll give you specifics. The FBI severed its ties with the organization because they said it has ties with Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”
Walsh, who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, insists that the Department of Homeland Security wants “nothing to do with CAIR because, as they say, ‘CAIR has impeded their investigations into terrorism.’”
Still, Rehab has called the Congressman’s comments “bigoted,” but Walsh asserts he isn’t prejudicial to Muslim-Americans. “The vast, vast majority are peaceful, patriotic Americans,” Walsh said.
Walsh believes there is a legitimate threat of home-grown terror residing in the US. ” Attorney Genearl Eric Holder…has 126 cases of home-grown terrorism since 2009, where citizens or residents of the US have been working with Al Qaeda to plot mass killings right here,” Walsh said.
“This is a real threat,” Walsh continued. “We as Americans, need to be aware of it. We’re not maligning an entire religion.”