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Area Muslim Leader Sues Magazine, Alleging Libel

Hussam Ayloush says National Review magazine and the past state GOP chief falsely implied that he endorsed anti-Semitism.

August 21, 2003|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A Southern California Muslim leader has sued the National Review magazine and a former chairman of the California Republican Party for defamation, alleging that they falsely suggested in a commentary that he endorsed anti-Semitic views.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Shawn Steel defamed him in a June 19 commentary that appeared on the magazine's Web site. Steel wrote that Ayloush co-hosted an event in May 1998 attended by a militant Egyptian leader who, he said, harbors anti-Semitic views.

Ayloush said he did not co-host the event and did not meet the Egyptian, Wagdi Ghunaym, until this year. In the lawsuit, Ayloush said Steel implied that he associates with racists and endorses anti-Semitism.

"Anybody who knows me knows I don't subscribe to that way of thinking," Ayloush said. "Steel never called me to ask me if it was true."

Steel said he had not seen the lawsuit. National Review publisher Ed Capano said the same and declined to comment.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

Ayloush said National Review editors haven't replied to his request for a retraction.

Steel's commentary described a speech he had made at USC supporting U.S. troops and the war in Iraq.

According to the commentary, Steel told a USC campus Republican group that "the Islamic community has a cancer growing within it, which hates Jews, hates freedom and hates Western society."

The commentary said the speech unleashed criticism, some of it for remarks Steel said were incorrectly attributed to him.

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