|Becky Prestwich (left) says she wrote the email in the name of Doyle Beck.|
By BRYAN CLARK
Muslim leaders in eastern Idaho were deeply offended by Islamophobic statements contained in a Monday newsletter distributed by the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.
In the newsletter, an article entitled “Islam in Idaho” warns that Muslims are “infiltrating” the state. It claims Muslims have been taught to “be ready to rise up and kill” non-Muslims and to be “two-faced,” in order to deceive people into believing their intentions are good.
The article called on newsletter readers to “demand that our lawmakers and law enforcers pay attention and ascertain whether or not there is a potential threat.”
“Please, don’t wait until something bad happens,” the article later said.
After learning of the article’s contents, Idaho State University professor Daniel Hummel, a practicing Muslim who teaches political science, said it simply is a rehash of conspiracy theories espoused by radical anti-Muslims.
“This is the same garbage that we’ve been hearing forever,” he said.
When such extremist views are espoused by those who have a degree of power, Hummel said, it can threaten the safety of Muslim communities.
“We’re seeing hate crimes go up year by year, and so stuff like this — especially coming from the top of an organization like the Bonneville County GOP — is really disconcerting for us living here in eastern Idaho,” he said. “Vigilantes” could take such assertions seriously, Hummel said, and commit hate crimes against area Muslims.
Bonneville GOP chairman Doyle Beck said Wednesday afternoon that he was “in Texas in a helicopter” and not available for comment. Wednesday night, Bonneville GOP executive director Becky Prestwich said she wrote the article, which is unsigned but appears below a picture of Beck.
Prestwich said she regretted that she wasn’t more specific in her comments. She said the article was concerned with radical Muslims, not all Muslims. Prestwich said she believes that at least 10 percent of Muslims are radicals.
Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country — said Hummel is right to worry about such rhetoric.
“What we see is that the level of anti-Muslim rhetoric goes up and then we see a minority of bigots turn that hate rhetoric into violent actions,” Hooper said.
The article specifically attacked the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which Prestwich characterized as a front group in an interview with the Post Register.
“Muslims are taught to be ‘two faced,’” the article said, “that is, to present the face of friendship to enemies but to inwardly hate them. To wait to be called to jihad and be ready to rise up and kill the enemy when called. Given that type of deeply ingrained teaching, are we to take them at their word when organizations like CAIR dispute that there are any nefarious intentions?”
The article also painted Muslims as violent toward other religions.
“There are at least 109 (chapters of the Quran) that advocate violence and death towards infidels,” the article said. “And make no mistake; if you are not a Muslim, you are an infidel. Period.”
Not true, Hooper said.
“I’ve been a Muslim for many decades,” he said. “I’ve never heard an actual Muslim use the word ‘infidel.’ The only time you hear that is from anti-Muslim bigots.”