The US's largest Muslim advocacy group has filed a complaint with the FCC over what it says is a Houston radio talk show host who "advocated bombing a proposed New York City mosque."
In a statement released Thursday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Michael Berry of KPRC 950 AM "made a call to violence" when he said he hoped someone would blow up the mosque being proposed for a location in lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks.
During an argument with a caller who supported the mosque's construction, Berry said, "You can't build a mosque at the site of 9/11. No you can't. No you can't. And I'll tell you this -- if you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up. ... I hope the mosque isn't built, and if it is, I hope it's blown up, and I mean that."
Download audio of Berry's comments here (WAV file).
"Calls for acts of violence against houses of worship must never be tolerated or excused," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said. "We ask the FCC to demonstrate that incitement to violence is never acceptable on our nation's airwaves."
In a statement on the KPRC Web site, Berry denied that he advocated terrorism against a house of worship, and said CAIR was trying to intimidate political opponents into silence.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is how CAIR intimidates people into silence," he said in the statement. "They want to scare people into believing that having differing opinions will cost you your job.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Houston Chronicle that his group isn't calling for Berry's firing because "then we're accused of censorship and stifling his free speech." But he said he wanted to see Berry's employer take "some action" in response to the incident.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“While I stand by my disagreement of the building of the mosque on the site, I SHOULD NOT have said Ã¢â‚¬ËœI hope someone blows it up,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢" Berry wrote on the KPRC site."That was dumb, and beneath me. ... For that, I apologize to my listeners."
CAIR notes that Berry "has in the past been a guest host for nationally-syndicated broadcasters like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly."
The group said Berry's remarks were "of particular concern" as they came shortly after the pipe-bombing of a Florida mosque earlier this week.
A Muslim group known as the Cordoba Initiative is planning to build a mosque inside a former Burlington Coat Factory building two blocks from the World Trade Center site. The 13-story building was damaged during the 9/11 attacks.
Earlier this month, a New York City community planning board approved the plan, stirring up opposition from some residents of the city and from conservative commentators around the country.