The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim-rights group designated by the Justice Department as a terrorist co-conspirator, is calling on Donald Trump to drop Rev. Franklin Graham as one of six clergy who will offer prayers at the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony.
In a press release issued this week, CAIR referred to the son of evangelist Billy Graham as a “notorious Islamophobe”
“If President-elect Trump truly seeks to unite our nation as he promised in his acceptance speech, he will limit the list of those offering prayers at the inauguration to religious leaders who work to bring us together, not to create divisions between faiths,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Rev. Graham’s ill-informed and extremist views are incompatible with the Constitution and with American values of religious liberty and inclusion.”
Awad was linked to the Holy Land Foundation terror-funding case by wiretaps showing him present at a 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists where participants hatched a plot to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as $12 million in charitable giving. Five of the plotters were given substantial prison sentences and, as WND reported, a new Internet campaign is urging President Obama to provide clemency to the jailed leaders of the foundation before he leaves office.
This is not the first time CAIR has attempted to have Graham banned from official Washington functions. In 2010 the group celebrated its success at having Graham dropped from The National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon.
CAIR’s Awad said his organization hailed the decision “as a victory for common sense and good judgment.”
“Promoting one’s own religious beliefs is something to be defended and encouraged, but other faiths should not be attacked or misrepresented in the process,” Awad said.
Graham has been outspoken in his criticism of Islam, saying Muslims are “enslaved by Islam” and characterizing it as a “very evil and wicked religion.” Following the attack by two Muslims that left more than a 14 dead and 22 seriously injured in San Bernardino, Graham warned, “Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized – and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad.”
CAIR’s demand is unlikely to carry any weight with the Trump transition team. The president-elect, during his thank-you event last month in Mobile, Alabama, praised Graham and credited him for contributing to his victory.
“I want to thank so many great people, but having Franklin Graham, who was so instrumental, we won so big, with evangelical Christians, we won so big,” Trump told the crowd of 20,000.
Graham has previously prayed at the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush and his father has prayed at the same event for other presidents, from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. That both Grahams have always concluded their prayers in the name of Jesus Christ — and Franklin Graham certainly will again — can only add to CAIR’s displeasure.
Ironically, CAIR’s broadside against Graham came at the same time his charitable organization, Samaritan’s Purse, was dedicating a 50-bed field hospital the group built in Mosul, Iraq.
The trauma unit constructed on the Plains of Ninevah is meant to treat the injured in the fighting being conducted by government and coalition forces against ISIS, reported the Washington Times.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Graham said during the dedication ceremony. “As a Christian, I want all people to know about God’s love for them.”
Samaritan’s Purse was praised by Lise Grande, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, who noted the difficulty in finding NGOs willing to provide frontline trauma care.
“We’ve reached out to a number of organizations, asking, begging them to step forward,” she said. “Dr. Graham, Samaritan’s Purse answered that call. We can’t thank you enough.
“You built this hospital in record time. Most of all we want to thank you for saving people. Because Samaritan’s Purse is here, thousands — tens of thousands — of people will survive…”
CAIR is unlikely to be moved by Graham’s clearly un-Islamophobic charitable work in Iraq. Graham’s 2003 announcement of his group’s planned relief efforts in Iraq drew similar scorn from the U.S. Muslim group.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, charged that evangelical groups use humanitarian concerns as a cover for their true motive – to convert Muslims to Christianity.
“They go after them when they’re most vulnerable and hope they can get them to leave their faith,” he told Beliefnet at the time. “It’s a very despicable practice.”
Hooper said Graham’s effort could undermine President Bush’s attempt to convince the Muslim world that the war was not against Islam.
“If it becomes generally known, it’s going to be a public relations disaster for the Bush administration,” he Hooper, who has said he wants the U.S. eventually to become a Muslim nation.
“Franklin Graham obviously thinks it is a war against Islam.”