On his Tuesday program, “The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly took on Nihad Awad, the founder and executive director of the controversial pro-Muslim group the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
O’Reilly asked Awad to explain why it was incorrect to take aim at extremist elements in Islam in aftermath of last week’s Boston bombing, particularly since there are indications that Islam was the inspiration for the suspects’ actions. Awad denied that sentiment was representative of Muslims.
“First of all, thank you for having me on the show again,” Awad said. “I really appreciate it because it’s important to bring American Muslims to speak to the nation through a network like Fox News because there have been so many views being shared about American Muslims and the faith of Islam and it needs someone who is Muslim practicing Islam to share with the public who we are, how we feel and where we stand on the issues.”
Awad proceeded to explain his personal emotional state surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing and maintained that he was representative of most Muslim Americans. But O’Reilly charged back, pressing Awad to explain why his religion was the motivation for terrorism.
“Here is where it all goes — I don’t have time for a speech,” O’Reilly said. “You have got to go back and forth with me, OK? You not admitting that radical Islam drives worldwide terrorism puts you in the category where you have no credibility because the facts are the facts. Ninety percent of worldwide terrorism is radical Islam, period. … I don’t know what Islam means to you with all due respect. That’s not the topic.”
Awad attempted to justify his sentiment, which led to a back-and-forth between Awad and O’Reilly.
Partial transcript as follows:
O’REILLY: You just said, you just said that radical Islam is not the driving force of terrorism in the world, when that’s an absurd statement. It’s absurd.
AWAD: I think your statement is absurd because you are trying to redefine religion for me. You are trying to define my faith to me.
O’REILLY: No I’m not. I’m telling you that radical Islamists, under the banner of jihad, are causing the most intense terrorism the earth has ever seen and you are denying it. So either you are naïve or I mean, you are just way out of touch. Do you not have a television set?
AWAD: Bill, I think you are just making up some stuff.
O’REILLY: Making it up?
AWAD: I’m telling you Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam is my faith.
O’REILLY: Yeah, what about these jihadists then?
AWAD: Well, also you do not the know the word jihad, what it means. I’m telling you jihad is a legitimate struggle. Those terrorists who are using the word are trying to legitimize their attacks on innocent people.
O’REILLY: Do you know how many of them there are? You have a whole nation of Iran, a whole theocracy that is threatening the world.
AWAD: Let’s not play into their hands and legitimize their attacks.
O’REILLY: Not play into their hands and tell the truth, Mr. Awad.