Flippant Comment Upsets Local Muslim Community

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The comment on Fox News on Monday lasted all of ten seconds.

“When I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and if I think they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried,” said Juan Williams. “I get nervous.”

Immediately afterwards, the NPR news analyst said he is not a bigot and not all Muslims are terrorists, but the damage was done.

“Comments and things that people say,” warned Rugiato Conteh, Outreach Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Philadelphia, “they increase Islamaphobia. They increase hatred against Muslims. They increase hate crimes.”

NPR fired Williams for his comments on Wednesday.

“If you want to be a political analyst, you may not also be a reporter or news analyst for NPR,” said CEO Vivian Schiller.

Fox News then hired him, but said a reporter involved in the Civil Rights movement should have known better.

“I did not plan the terrorist attacks on 9/11,” said Conteh, “so why are people associating me with the people who did?”

Many Muslims who attend prayer services at Masjid al-Jamia of Philadelphia said they get along great with the surrounding community, but comments like Juan Williams’ let them know they still have to contend with discrimination.

“If I am flying, I do see people get nervous and that bothers me as an American, as a Muslim,” Conteh said. “It really bothers me that people would be suspicious.”

“I’m sure a lot of it goes back to people freaking out about Muslims in 9/11,” pointed out Jason McKenna, “but the truth is a lot of Muslims died in 9/11.”

Some said Williams had a right to make the comments, but chose the wrong place, and maybe the wrong profession to make them.

“It is inappropriate,” said Kitty Fung, “but it is freedom of speech. He has the right to say what he wants. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. But it’s definitely not right.”

Williams comments about flying with Muslims come just before the Hajj season, when many Muslims will get on airplanes for their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Reported By: Oren Liebermann, CBS 3

  • tbone

    I feel the same when I hear someone with an American accent on an aeroplane – here in the Middle East. Revulsion: When I remember the mayhem caused by the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions of innocent people have been killed, infrastructure destroyed and lives ruined.

  • Ihtishaam Qazi

    If he substituted ‘black’ for Muslim it would be considered clearly racist. Not too long ago, and in many instances even today, there are many white people who when they see black people who dress ‘ghetto’ they immediately see them as gangster and the like. Some older whites who don’t know any blacks see any black as ‘ghetto’ and potentially dangerous. We all accept that these opinions are racist and do not allow them to go unchallenged in modern day discourse. Why should these comments he made be any different.

  • Nadia Sindi


    “Juan Williams, pseudo journalist, media hack, and self promoting sellout, should have been dumped from NPR long before now. He brought absolutely NOTHING of any value whatsoever to the national discourse except a black face, consequently depriving real journalist of non-white ethnicity of journalism opportunities.

    Now, true, National rePublican Radio is not exactly the last bastion of news accuracy and progressive journalism. Still, their standards are not those of the Saudi owned and bossed Faux Noise. NPR, for all the FCC’s attempts to silence what little defiance to right wing ignorance was left in their public voice, is still fairly responsible, a standard Juan Williams consistently violated for years with his Faux journalistic style and values.

    No one is denying that America needs to openly talk about race to resolve some of the hostility, fear, and ignorance. I strongly agree that political correctitude is undeniably the insidious bane of our current public discourse, with all those coy trappings intended to distance the offensive from the consequences of their offenses. But, Juan’s hypocritical manipulation of political correctitude is just as detrimental to that discourse as the very presence of this needless social impediment. I suppose what I loathe the most about this sellout is that the very sin he’s denouncing is the journalistic abomination he has made himself famous for consistently perpetuating in his lifelong effort to make himself nonthreatening and hide the truth from folks who find it so objectionable, yet need to hear it the most at the loudest volume. The truth is that Juan Williams has more often abused his free speech rights taking sides with those on the most powerful side of political polarity to continue to eat more than ever daring to tell the whole truth or inform without bias.

    NPR humored that lummox for as long as listeners could tolerate. I’m personally glad Williams is going to the stink hole where he spent the bulk of his off-air times, sucking up to Roger Ailes, hanging out with Murdock’s lying deceitful minions. I personally bid him good riddance. That this sellout is the black face the Tea Baggers is fighting to defend is, indeed, rather telling. That notwithstanding, I’m glad this self-serving manipulative reprobate “journalist” is off NPR’s airwaves. I live with the consolation that when he is no longer useful to the Faux Noise GOP agenda, Murdoch’s minions will do their master’s bidding, finally ridding us him altogether.”

  • maryam hajar

    I challenge anyone to name one “Terrorist” who was/is dressed in “Muslim Garb”….you can’t because they were dressed in Western, average American garb. So does that mean that I, a Muslim woman, in my ‘garb’ should fear all who dress that way? Should I draw my children close to me protectively when I see a Catholic priest dressed in priestly garb for fear he is a pedophile? Is everyone so afraid and paranoid? Or is this Islamophobia that is constantly spoon-fed by FOX/FAKE News and their ilk, to the ‘Sheeple’ who can’t pick up a book or think for themselves? There are many ‘sick’ ppl out there who look ‘normal’…

  • JMcKay

    I just watched your slanted so-called news coverage of this story. You took Williams comment completely out of context and gave it that good old progressive, Left-wing twist. Williams was making the case against profiling Muslims desptie what feelings or fears they may have. And I noticed you didn’t bother to mention the sneering personal attack comments made against Williams by the CEO of NPR.

    Nice pandering to the Black Muslim community! Do you feel like good white people now?


    “If thats how he feels, but its definitely NOT RIGHT”!! Actually it is his RIGHT
    to say what he feels. Thats what the 1st Amendment , etc entitles us to say and do
    , ie ,What we feel. Frankly a lot of things concern me, and a lot of things I keep my
    eyeball on………..

  • Frank

    QUOTE: “Comments and things that people say,” warned Rugiato Conteh, Outreach Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Philadelphia, “they increase Islamaphobia. They increase hatred against Muslims. They increase hate crimes.””

    No, muslim terrorism and YOUR skewed priorities are what lead to hatred, Mr. Conteh…

    • Frank is stupid.


      1.) What are Mr. Conteh’s skewed priorities?

      2.) How did you learn about them?

    • jane

      I agree Frank. By linking “comments and things people say” to “hate crimes” it sounds like the next step is to outlaw criticism of Islam under the guise it causes hate crimes. Scary. You notice CAIR had no problem honoring Helen Thomas despite the very intolerent comments she made.

  • June

    So do I! Everyone does. It’s not racist, it’s just a fact. Muslims flew into the WTC. Anyone who gets on a plane with people in Muslim garb will get scared unless they’re completely oblivious. You can’t tell which ones are extremist.

    Also, they are really getting annoying with their crying anytime anyone says the slightest thing against them. They need thicker skin and need to shut up.

    • I don't get nervous. Because I'm intelligent.

      Please stop making assumptions about me. I do not get nervous when Muslim people are on planes with me. I completely understand why you do. But not everyone is at the level of cognitive processing ability that you are. Some of us are above you and no longer get nervous when we go into a theater and see someone wearing the same color shirt as John Wilkes Boothe was wearing.

      Do you get nervous when you see Christians who identify themselves as Christians? Why not? We can’t tell which ones are extremists just by looking at them. Any one of these Christians could be on their way to put a bullet through the window of your local Congressperson, or to shoot up the highway patrol in the name of Jesus. We can’t tell. So why don’t you get nervous anytime you see one of those fish bumper stickers? We can’t tell “which ones are the extremists.”

  • Diane

    Juan Williams said nothing wrong. If anyone gets on a plane with someone wearing Muslim garb and says they do not get nervous, they are not telling the truth. We don’t know who is an extremist and who is not.

    • Diane lied about me.

      Diane, you’re wrong about me. I don’t get nervous when I see people who have the same religion as a group of terrorists. Any more than YOU get nervous when you see Christians. Christians are the primary cause of murder throughout history. Do Christians as a group make me nervous? Absolutely. Does my sweet, Christian neighbor who has done nothing wrong make me nervous? Nope.

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