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Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Newly Tested

AFTER THE ATTACK

Reaction: Leaders say a Web site photograph and some radio comments are divisive and hateful.

September 22, 2001|LARRY B. STAMMER | TIMES RELIGION WRITER

The Wiesenthal Center said it removed the Palestinian-celebration photo from its Web site Friday because the Associated Press, which originally distributed the picture, had stopped circulating it. The center posted a new picture Friday showing Muslims in Pakistan burning President Bush in effigy.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California office of the Council on American-Muslim Relations, accused the Wiesenthal Center of unethical conduct. Ayloush said the vast majority of Palestinians had condemned the bombing and expressed sympathy and support for the American victims.

"We are trying to defend our community from hate crimes, but the Wiesenthal Center is exploiting our situation to incite hate against us," Ayloush said. "To exploit our tragedy to score a couple of political points against Palestinians is very unethical."

Rabbi Allen Freehling of University Synagogue criticized the Wiesenthal Center's actions. "I don't see any purpose for this other than fostering more hate and mistrust at a time we don't need hate and mistrust," he said.

Cooper defended the picture's use and called "ludicrous" claims that it jeopardized the safety of Muslim Americans. He said the center used the photo in connection with its mission to oppose terrorism. It captured the "reality" that "so many young people are growing up in that part of the world with such a hateful view of America," he said.

Adding fuel to the Muslim-Jewish controversy was the latest issue of a Los Angeles-based Muslim magazine, which published several anti-Zionist articles. The magazine, the Minaret, went to press before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Rosove said the editor of the magazine, Aslam Abdullah, has been one of the participants in the Muslim-Jewish dialogue. Rosove complained that Abdullah did not give dialogue participants the courtesy of letting them know about the stories in advance, much less offering to print their rebuttal in the same issue. He called the articles inflammatory.

Abdullah said Friday he has offered to print their response in the next issue. But he said he was under no obligation to consult them in advance about the content of his publication.

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Times religion writer Teresa Watanabe contributed to this story.

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