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Hannity Distorts Catholic University Controversy To Beat His Anti-Islamic Drum

Reported by Ellen - October 28, 2011 -

Whether he’d admit to it or not, Sean Hannity is obviously, blatantly anti-Islamic. He’s also a guy who has a problem with the truth. So it comes as no big surprise that rather than have a real debate about the issues surrounding a lawsuit on behalf of a group of Muslim students looking for a religiously-appropriate prayer space at Catholic University, he’d twist the case into Muslims Trying To Take The Catholic Out Of Catholic University!!! But what’s Fox News’ excuse to allow this? And how about lawyer Jay Sekulow, Hannity’s like-minded guest? Just because we previously caught him behaving like a right-wing hack on the Hannity show doesn’t mean he can’t behave like a grown up legal analyst and inform rather than inflame… or does it?

Although nobody has more at stake than the students at Catholic University, their own student news site, The Tower, did a better job of laying out the issues dispassionately than Hannity and “fair and balanced,” "we report, you decide" Fox News. Unlike Fox, The Tower noted that the lawsuit has been started by a gadly professor of public interest law at George Washington University, John F. Banzhaf III, who has also brought legal action alleging the same-sex residence halls are discriminatory:

The official allegations claim that CUA, “does not provide space – as other universities do – for the many daily prayers Muslim students must make, forcing them instead to find temporarily empty classrooms where they are often surrounded by Catholic symbols which are incongruous to their religion,” according to a press release on PRLOG.com.

…Banzhaf claims that the University is denying Muslim students the same benefits that students of other religions are able to enjoy since there is no formal Muslim association sponsored by Catholic University but the Columbus School of Law has an association for Jewish students.

In other words, the Muslim students at Catholic University want a prayer space without Catholic symbols.

But here’s how Hannity introduced the segment: “So, is it a holy war that is being waged in our nation’s capital? Now, Muslim students are complaining that the Catholic University is well, too Catholic.”

He went on to recite the actual terms of the complaint which, of course, had nothing to do with Catholic University being “too Catholic.” But he nevertheless sneered, “Imagine that. Catholic symbols on the wall of a Catholic university.”

Hannity never pointed out that the suit is being filed by an outsider but he did read a statement from the university saying, “No students have registered complaints about the exercise of their religions on our campus… we have not seen any legal filing… and will respond to them if we do.”

But Hannity concluded his introduction by “asking,” “Is this what our nation has now come to? A private, Catholic university doesn’t even have the right to be Catholic any more?”

Fox News’ “balance” for this hate mongering, was to include Ibrahim Ramey, “Muslim activisit” and former director of the human rights department of the Muslim American Society Freedom for a two-against-one discussion. Actually, you might want to make that three against one, as Fox News producers blared “DC HOLY WAR” in a red graphic on the screen.

Ramey did a terrific job of offering an informed, reasoned and good-natured representation of the students’ issues. That is, when he had the chance to finish a thought before Hannity interrupted with comments like this:

“I’m going to go to Saudi Arabia tomorrow and you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to walk into a mosque and say, ‘Can I have a private room to put up a picture of Jesus and a cross?’ Will that work out for me in Saudi Arabia or any Muslim country?”

Of course, that has nothing to do with the issue of a group of students at a university but it’s emblematic of Hannity’s eternal resentment of Muslims.

Sekulow, of course, joined in the anti-Islamic fray. “Not too good,” he said, about Hannity’s ridiculously irrelevant hypothetical of a Catholic in a Saudi mosque. Sekulow went on to suggest that Muslims were making the Unconstitutional argument that Muslims wanted to “compel Catholic University… to change its doctrines, its practices or its procedures and beliefs to accommodate a student of another faith.”

Wait a minute. Where’s the evidence that having a prayer room of their own or even just a room unadorned with Catholic symbols is against the University’s doctrines, practices, procedures or beliefs? Nothing like that was mentioned on the show or even in The Tower’s report.

The sad thing about all this is that Sekulow might have had a legitimate point and there’s a real issue here that could have been debated: How far does a Catholic school need to go to accommodate religious practices of other faiths? But instead of having that real debate, Sekulow added to the hate mongering by likening the Muslim students’ request to “telling Yeshiva University in New York that might admit students from a variety of faiths that, ‘Hey, we want you to take down the Star of David and the Mezuzah on the doorway because we’re offended by it during our prayer time.’ You know what the answer to that is? Tough luck! Don’t go to school there!”

Ramey pointed out that Sekulow and Hannity had twisted the discussion. He said that the Muslims’ real argument is that “There is a better way and a more civil way and in fact a more accommodating way for Muslim students to be able to pray at Catholic University.”

And that’s really what it comes down to: Hannity and Sekulow don’t want more civility and tolerance for Muslims and they tried to camouflage that intolerance by playing the victim with inflammatory accusations of Muslim intolerance and aggression toward Catholicism.

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