Daily Herald: Diverse Group Calls for Kirk Apology

Pressure is mounting on U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk to retract his recent comments he made that it is OK to discriminate against “young Arab males from terror-producing states.”

Since Kirk made the statements last Saturday at a scientific conference at Northwestern University in Evanston, Arab-American and immigrant rights groups have asked him to apologize. Other groups joined in Friday.

A diverse coalition of 25 Chicago area organizations — including the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Hispanic Ministry, Korean American Senior Center, United Methodist Church’s Northern Illinois Conference, and Holy Family Catholic Church in Waukegan — were signatories to a joint statement demanding an apology and retraction from Kirk. Common sense brought the groups together on this issue, said Yaser Tabbara, director of the Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights advocacy group.

“A large number of these groups have direct constituents in the 10th district,” he said. “If he doesn’t realize these comments that he made were egregious and un-American on their face, we hope by building this coalition to demonstrate that he will be held accountable for making such blanket and bigoted comments.”

Kirk’s office did not return calls Friday requesting comment. The Highland Park Republican’s 10th District includes Green Oaks, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Vernon Hills, Waukegan and Wheeling.

His initial statements on the subject of immigration were: “I think that when we look at the threat that’s out there, young men between, say, the ages of 18 and 25 from a couple of countries, I believe a certain amount of intense scrutiny should be placed on them.”

He later added through a spokesman, given that 17 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, it “makes sense to give increased scrutiny to visa applicants coming from terrorist-producing states.”

Tabbara said terrorist threats should be addressed through hard intelligence work and not by “shots in the dark to target a certain ethnic group.”

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