Religious Convention in Charlotte Draws Much Criticism from Muslims

( [email protected] ) Feb 17, 2004 10:32 AM EST

NORTH CAROLINA -- According to the Charlotte Observer, the Israel Ministry of Tourism honored evangelist Pat Robertson Sunday in Charlotte during the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention at the Westin hotel. As controversial as it might seem, the event brought uprisings from Muslims locally and across the nation.

The NRB gathering, which is open to delegates only, will continue through Wednesday at the convention center with 6,000 media executives. The event will hold seminars, workshops and a trade show featuring Christian publishers, ministries and others.

Israeli tourism officials recognized the conservative Christian author and commentator Pat Robertson for his support of their nation. Robertson accepted the honor and reiterated evangelical Christian support for Israel. Proof of the existence of God, he said, is found in the survival of the Jewish people.

He also praised Israel's survival in the face of what he called a "fanatical religion" (Islam). He said Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was raised to finish the work of Hitler.

Because of Robertson’s strong anti-Islamic rhetoric, many Muslim organizations are releasing words of criticism about the gathering.

Jibril Hough, president of the Charlotte chapter of the Islamic Political Party of America, criticized the recognition and the presence of Robertson and Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon.

"Both men have spewed anti-Islam rhetoric and have done what they could to incite antagonism toward Islam, Muslims in America and abroad and the plight of the Palestinian people,” Hough said.

In a Chicago Tribune article last week, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington criticized "the alliance between the far Christian right and the right in Israel."

Elon, shadowed by a security aide, told the Observer after the Robertson tribute, "Not all of the Muslims are enemies ... But there are many that have really forgotten morality."

Despite opposition to the alliance between the Christians and Israelites, the convention continued with higher security on Sunday, highlighting Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ."