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Rep. Walsh rejects religious leaders’ call for apology for Muslim comments

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

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Updated: September 12, 2012 6:05AM

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) stood his ground on Friday — warning that radical Islamic terrorists pose threats to the Chicago suburbs and the rest of the U.S. — as an Illinois Muslim group demanded an apology following remarks he made at an Elk Grove Village town hall.

Through his spokesman, Justin Roth, Walsh declined an apology.

“The threat we are facing from homegrown jihadist terrorist is real, and Congressman Walsh will not bow down to political correctness and ignore the issue.

“Since 9/11 there have been over 40 jihadist terror plots. For that reason Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the growing threat of Americans being radicalized is what ‘keeps him awake at night,’” Roth said in a Friday statement.

Walsh is locked in an election battle with Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the northwest suburban Eighth Congressional District, and his Wednesday remarks about Muslims and terrorist threats now have traction because they were videotaped and posted on YouTube by a tracker for Duckworth’s campaign.

In the wake of reports Friday in Chicago news outlets, the Illinois chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations organized a news conference at its Loop office where its executive director Ahmed Rehab was joined by members of other faiths.

At the town hall, Walsh raised the prospect of another 9-11 triggered by Islamic extremists. “It is a real threat,” he said. “And it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was right after 9/11. It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin.”

Rehab said those kind of comments bring unwarranted suspicion on those look “ethnic or different,” who wear a hijab or a beard.

“When elected officials, trusted by many, indicate that the enemy could be any Muslim living in your neighborhood, it gives rise to xenophobic vigilantism where fearful citizens target other Americans for simply looking different,” Rehab said.

Rabbi Brent Rosen, the spiritual leader of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, added: “For a public servant to utter words such as these for political gain is frankly the height of cynicism and irresponsibility . . . . There is no place for this kind of hatred, intolerance, divisive rhetoric or Islamaphobia in our community.”

Walsh, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, noted on Thursday that “The threat that radical Islam poses to American families and our way of life is not anything new. It is a real threat” and that the committee “has held five hearings that examined the threat of Muslim radicalization, especially radicalization within the Muslim-American community.”

“…We cannot let political correctness blind us to reality. While most Muslims in America and around the world are as peace loving as the rest of us, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that there is a radical minority that simply wants to destroy America and the values that we stand for.”

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