On Friday, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Maher told Ellison, who is a Muslim, that the Quran was a “hate-filled holy book” that inspired terrorism.
Ellison gave an emotional, tear-filled testimony Thursday to a House committee hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims. The hearing, chaired by New York Republican Rep. Peter King, has been labeled by opponents as a witch hunt targeting Muslims.
Maher started his conversation on religion with Ellison by discussing the congressman’s conversion from Catholicism to Islam. “You converted as a young man. I didn’t even know you went to prison,” Maher jokingly said.
Ellison explained that when he attended college he was “interested in social justice, social change” and became attracted to the religion.
Maher then proceeded to discuss the threat posed by the radicalization of American Muslims.
“I do agree that there are other groups that pose a terroristic threat to this country,” Maher said, “I would say that the threat from radicalized Muslims is a unique and greater threat. It is the greatest threat.”
The host listed several reasons for why he believed radicalized Muslims presented the greatest threat. “We are dealing with a culture that is in its medieval era,” was one reason, another was that “[Islam] comes from a hate-filled holy book, the Quran, which is taken very literally by its people.”
“They are trying to get nuclear weapons,” Maher continued. “I don’t think Tim McVeigh would ever have tried to get a nuclear weapon because I think right-wing nuts, they think they love this country and they are not trying to destroy this country, they want to get it away from the people they see as hijacking it. That’s different than Muslim extremists who want to destroy it.”
Maher also listed “a culture of suicide bombing, which is hard to deter.”
Ellison responded that he believed Maher was “lumping together things that shouldn’t be lumped together” and “casting a very wide net and therefore coming to the wrong conclusions.”
Maher maintained his position that the Quran inspired radicalism, but also clarified, “No one is disputing that the vast vast giant majority of Muslims are not the problem. We’re talking about a very small percentage. It just takes one. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about terrorism.”
Maher stated, “obviously there is something going on, that they’re getting from the Quran.”
Ellison suggested that “books are complex” and hold various meanings and interpretations. Maher responded, “I don’t buy it,” then mockingly said that he must have seen “a lot of bad translations.”