In endorsing Tipton, Sentinel misrepresented Salazar staffer's criticism of Tancredo's attacks on Islam

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In endorsing Republican Scott Tipton in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction inaccurately noted criticisms of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's attacks on the Islamic faith by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Salazar's spokeswoman.

In its October 8 endorsement of Republican challenger Scott Tipton in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction failed to accurately note the criticisms of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-Littleton) recent attacks on the Islamic faith by U.S. Rep. John Salazar's (D-Manassa) spokeswoman, Nayyera Haq.

As Colorado Media Matters previously noted, Haq objected to portions of a letter Tancredo wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in which Tancredo disparaged the Islamic religion in general -- a fact the Sentinel failed to note in its endorsement of Tipton.

One reason the Sentinel cited for its endorsement of Tipton was Salazar's initial silence regarding Haq's comments that, the paper said, "harshly berated Rep. Tom Tancredo for supporting Pope Benedict XVI." According to the Sentinel:

We find it equally troubling that Salazar remained conspicuously quiet when campaign aide Nayyera Haq, an activist Muslim congressional staffer, harshly berated Rep. Tom Tancredo for supporting Pope Benedict XVI as a wave of Muslim violence erupted in response to an academic speech the pope gave in his native Germany. At a minimum, Salazar should have publicly distanced himself from Haq's indefensible remarks and offered an apology to his fellow congressional delegation member. He did neither.

However, the Sentinel did not provide any further details about Tancredo's letter to the pope and failed to mention the portions of the letter that disparaged the Islamic faith.

Tancredo sent his letter to the pope following the pope's controversial comments about Islam that touched off a wave of protests from Muslims across the globe. Citing specific portions of the Koran, Tancredo wrote, "I believe any reformation of the Islamic faith is highly unlikely because it would require a radical reinterpretation of the Koran, something that you have correctly noted would be nearly impossible as Muslims view the Koran as a document that cannot be interpreted by man."

Tancredo ended his letter by urging the pope to "resist calls from the likes of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Al Qaeda to apologize for the factual observations you cited last week. Whether we want to admit it or not, the western world is locked in a struggle against radical Islam whose practitioners and adherents are inextricably linked to terrorism." [emphasis in original]

As the Rocky Mountain News reported on September 21, "[Tancredo's] letter drew an angry response from Nayyera Haq, communications director for Rep. John Salazar. Haq, who is Muslim, stressed in an e-mail that she was speaking for herself and not for her boss." According to the News, Haq's e-mail accused Tancredo of "being irresponsible with his congressional authority" and called on the congressman to "focus more on building bridges with the progressives in the Muslim world rather than burning the few bridges we have left." The News reported Haq's e-mail as follows:

"As a man, Tom Tancredo has always been articulate in expressing his hatred of Islam and immigrants - no surprise there," Haq said. "In his arrogance, he chooses to disregard the existence of millions of law-abiding Muslim American citizens. What is surprising is that as an elected representative, someone who should be working towards our collective safety, Tancredo chooses to throw more fuel on the fire with his hateful words."

"Tancredo is being irresponsible with his congressional authority and is knowingly creating a more dangerous environment for all of us. Congressman Tancredo should focus more on building bridges with the progressives in the Muslim world rather than burning the few bridges we have left."

As Colorado Media Matters previously noted, several Colorado newspapers reporting on the controversy surrounding Tancredo's letter largely have omitted the fact that the letter included passages attacking the Islamic religion in general, not just "radical Islam" or factions such as Al Qaeda.

From the October 8 Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction editorial, "Scott Tipton for Congress":

Tipton also makes clear that he understands the deadly existential threat that radical Islam poses not only to 300 million Americans, but to the entirety of the non-Muslim world. He unambiguously supports the Patriot Act. Salazar's position on the Patriot Act has been incoherent, appearing to be that he was against it before he was for it, and then again, who knows?

We find it equally troubling that Salazar remained conspicuously quiet when campaign aide Nayyera Haq, an activist Muslim congressional staffer, harshly berated Rep. Tom Tancredo for supporting Pope Benedict XVI as a wave of Muslim violence erupted in response to an academic speech the pope gave in his native Germany. At a minimum, Salazar should have publicly distanced himself from Haq's indefensible remarks and offered an apology to his fellow congressional delegation member. He did neither.

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