Associated Press: Rep. defends 'savage religion' comment

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A Republican congressman from Illinois said Tuesday that his comment that suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay follow a “savage religion” has been misinterpreted.

During an interview with WREX-TV in Rockford, U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo said alleged terrorists at the detention center are “are really really mean people whose job it is to kill people driven by some savage religion.”

In a statement Tuesday, Manzullo confirmed those were his words during the Sunday interview, but he said they have been misinterpreted.

“The religion of these terrorists is indeed savage — it is not the religion of Islam,” he said. “I never once said that Islam is a savage religion. It is a false conclusion or assumption. These terrorists have perverted the peaceful nature of Islam for their own demented purposes.”

“It is outrageous and very sad that a representative of the people would partake in an attack against a global faith,” said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “He could have said, ‘a savage ideology’ or ‘a savage interpretation’ or any type of nuance that a politician like himself knows how to do.”

Rehab said rhetoric surrounding the prison proposal has been promoting hysteria and fear of Muslims.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press