Members of a New York Muslim group called the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier took offense to a new Owego, New York, memorial created to honor Americans who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. IOST representatives fired off a letter to Owego city leaders, communicating they believe words engraved in the granite memorial would encourage hatred toward Muslims.
The memorial, which will be dedicated on Saturday, identifies those responsible for the attacks as "Islamic terrorists," said Todd Starnes, a host of Fox News & Commentary.
An IOST spokesperson told Fox having the words "Islamic terrorists" on the monument is a "broad brush against the many Muslims who live in the Southern Tier."
"They want us to change the word from 'Islamic Terrorist' to either 'terrorist' or 'Al Qaeda terrorist,'" Owego city manager Donald Castelluci Jr. told Starnes.
Castelluci said he sent back an email saying he 100 percent disagreed with the group's premise.
The memorial's inscription reads:
"On September 11, 2001 nineteen Islamic terrorists unsuspectedly boarded four airliners departing east coast airports to hijack the planes and carry out a series of coordinated attacks against the United States. This is a tribute to all the lives lost that day and to the heroic sacrifice of all who rushed to help. As Americans, we honor their memory by living our lives in freedom. We will never forget."
Castelluci said they have no plans to change a single letter in the town's memorial.
"I don't live in a politically correct world," he told Fox affiliate WICZ. "I live in a historical fact world...whether it's American, homegrown, Christianity, Islamic, you call it what it is. And we don't whitewash things, especially here."
Catelluci said the issue is not about religion. "It's about one event on one day that killed more than 3,000 people."
On Saturday, Owego citizens will commemorate the 15th anniversary of that terrible September day by dedicating their memorial park - a park that honors a local resident who died in one of the twin towers. His name was Derek Statkevicus, and he worked on the 89th floor of 2 World Trade Center. And his life was taken by a terrorist.