In an interview with Rockford’s WREX earlier this week about the possible transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center, Rep. Don Manzullo unleashed what seemed like an unhinged attack on the religion of Islam. “These are really, really mean people,” he told the television reporter, “whose job it is to kill people, driven by some savage religion.”
After his office apparently received numerous complaints about the remark, Manzullo released a statement of apology last night, emphasizing that he really meant terrorists practice a “violent, anti-modernity version of Wahhabism.” The Tribune printed more from the Rockford Republican:
He said Islam is a “religion of peace” and that the vast majority of its adherents are “men and women of good will.”
He added: “Nevertheless, I apologize for any misunderstanding of my comments and I will endeavor in the future to clarify my remarks to make it absolutely clear that America is not opposed to Islam, but that we are fighting terrorists who believe in a savage, perverted, and violent form of Islam.”
But check out the AP’s more detailed account. Here, Manzullo sounds a lot more defensive, blaming those offended for making a “false assumption.”
In a statement Tuesday, Manzullo confirmed those were his words during the Sunday interview, but he said they have been misinterpreted.
Most prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Cuba come from Muslim countries or have Muslim surnames.
Manzullo said he never specified Islam and apologized for any misunderstanding stemming from his comments.
“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.”
Manzullo shouldn’t blame the reader for misinterpreting his comment. Instead, he should blame himself for using such a bombastic generalization about an extremely sensitive issue. Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, gave the AP this rejoinder:
“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.”