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The system works!

March 17, 2004

 

I got a CAIR Action Alert today. Usually when I get these things, being the loser that I am, I read them (usually), get indignated, and then hit the delete button and move on to the next email.  Today, however, I figured that I have no excuse not to respond to the action alert and do something useful–it’s not like I was busy with school or something, I slept till 1 pm today. So I read the email, which I will reproduce below and decided to actually do something.

<<<In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

CAIR ACTION ALERT #419

FCC COMPLAINT FILED OVER ISLAMOPHOBIC RADIO SKIT
Pretend “Muslim” said Iraqi constitution permits sex with animals

(ANAHEIM, CA, 3/16/04) – CAIR’s Southern California office (CAIR-LA) today
announced that it has filed complaints with both the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) and Clear Channel Communications over an Islamophobic skit
on a Los Angeles radio station that claimed Muslims have sex with animals,
avoid bathing and are obsessed with killing Jews.

In the March 10 Bill Handel show on KFI AM 640, a pretend “Muslim”
allegedly reading from the new Iraqi constitution refers to “hairy Iraqi
women,” “lovely Japanese schoolgirls,” the “infidel custom of bathing on a
regular basis,” and “civil unions” between Iraqis and “loving camels and
goats.”

Throughout the skit, called “The New Iraq Constitution – Handelized,” the
mock-Muslim repeatedly stated “Allah be praised,” “death to the Jews” and
“kill all Jews.” Listeners also heard recordings of Islamic prayers in
Arabic. CAIR-LA asked the station to apologize for the offensive skit, but
that request was denied.

To listen to the offensive skit, go to:
http://www.kfi640.com/media/iraqcont.mp3 or
http://www.cair-net.org/audio/iraqcont.ram   >>>>>>

So I wrote a letter:

To Whom it May Concern:
I listened to a certain skit from the March 10 Bill Handel show, namely the one wherein a satire of the Iraqi constitution is being made. I cannot help but respond to this skit in this letter.
I am deeply disappointed and disturbed to see that in the wake of the FCC’s goal to promote more appropriate programming, such programs that deliberately insult a religion and refer to gross sexual deviancy (whereas FCC regulations prohibit references to sexual behavior from 6 am to 10 pm) are not deal with in a more agressive manner. This skit has no place on a public radio station; its message is only going to promote hatred and misunderstanding between two cultures (Americans and Middle Easterners).
Even more disturbing to me, as an American Muslim, is the casual perversion of Muslim teachings with no respect for beliefs, values, and culture.  As a Muslim, I was offended by the skit’s deliberate mocking of my religion. As an American, I was shocked to see that such hatred that we often accuse others of displaying is rampant in our nation as well.  In a time when the West and the Middle East sorely need to understand the other better, programs such as this only add fuel to the fire of ignorance that is burning the moral fabric and hopes of social progress for both societies.
I therefore request that the Bill Handel show immediately air a public apology for their religious and cultural insensitivity and bigotry that it displayed in airing such a skit.  I also suggest that religious and cultural sensitivity training be given to all the people with the show who were involved in the production and airing of said skit.  In addition, I recommend that the FCC monitor the Bill Handel show more closely to ensure that such future events do not occur. Finally, I request that the FCC take this incident seriously and increase its efforts to clean up the airways (both TV and radio) from all offensive content, especially comments that insult other religions and cultures.
Sincerely,
Kamran Riaz
kr156@comcast.net

Now, usually you send these letters and nothing happens. Most of the times we send these letters as vain efforts, with the satisfaction of being able to say later that at least some effort was made. Imagine my shock and surprise when I realized I had taken part in something that actually effected change. These are the responses I got:

<<1.Kamran

KFI will be airing an apology tomorrow morning.  The skit was blatantly about Iraqi TERRORISTS,  we thought we had make that clear, but apparently, some people took offense and for that we are sorry.

Sincerely,

Michelle Kube

Producer, The Bill Handel Show

KFI-AM 640

2. Dear  Kamran,

Talk radio is and has always been a market place of thoughts, opinions and, ideas – KFI AM 640 is no different. However, knowing that whenever opinions of any kind are shared in public, there is always the risk of offending someone. KFI AM 640 approaches the use of humorous show content to bring levity to a discussion, not to bring pain.

Last Wednesday on the Bill Handel Show, the “Handel Morning Show Players” acted out a live satirical skit regarding the new Iraqi constitution. Although, these skits have become a listener favorite and are used along with humor and hyperbole to make important points, this attempt to mock the Iraqi terrorist extremists left some people thinking KFI AM 640 and the Bill Handel Show were mocking Muslims everywhere. That is not the case and we are sorry that we have offended you, our valuable listener, or any of the hard working Muslim-Americans.

On Wednesday, March 17, an official apology will be issued during the Bill Handel Show.

Sincerely,

Robin Bertolucci

Program Director

KFI Radio

3. Dear Sir Kamran Riaz

We, as the organizing committee of the Nobel Peace Prize Award, are contacting you to award you yet another Nobel Peace Prize for your ongoing efforts and lasting contributions to humanity.>>>

Ok, so the 3rd email was fake, but the other two weren’t. I guess the lesson I learnt today was that all of us become indignant in the wake of these incidents of gross ignorance; most people, myself included, simply do nothing and wait for the someone else to handle the situation. Today, after a long time, I finally did something and I’m thankful that I was part of something constructive. It’s made me re-realize that chronic complacency must certainly rank among the worst of crimes.

I think it’s important for myself and all of us to let that sink in for a moment.  The fact that today (March 16) marks not only the date of the primary elections in Illinois; perhaps even more significant lies in today being the one year anniversary of the brutal and horrific murder of Rachel Corrie.  For those who might not remember, this was the girl who taught the world the meaning of the word courage by risking her own life for the sake of others. She had nothing to benefit by being there; yet, she exemplified the highest levels of compassion for others and standing up for the sake of truth by bravely defying the Israeli bulldozer set to pulverize a Palestinian home. The image of this girl standing in the face of a bulldozer will hang in the gallery of human history as an example of bravery, selflessness, and nobility.

One year later, nothing has changed. There is no monument in Washington DC for Rachel Corrie, no presidential condemnation of her murder. Even the Israeli ‘investigation’ of her death has been classified as confidential and has not been released to the international community; the American embassy was allowed only to read it and take notes. It certainly is enough to make one frustrated…

I guess that’s where the legacy of Rachel Corrie comes in. The anniversary of her death reminds us all that despite our best efforts, we may not necessarily see the fruits of our labor immediately, or even in our lifetimes. I saw the fruits of my efforts in a few hours with the emailed responses; who knows how long before Rachel and all the others who have died in the Palestine travesty have to wait before their dreams are fulfilled. The point, however, is that one must continue to do whatever is within one’s capability–in a sense, thats the struggle of life.  Not everyone’s challenge is to die standing in front of a tank; the common challenge is to find the goals that each of us has to personally attempt to accomplish, and then spend our earthly lives trying to fulfill these dreams. Blessed be those lucky few who find their unique goals so early in their lives…

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