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Local Muslim Leader Supports Commentator’s Firing

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Juan Williams

Juan Williams (credit: GETTY IMAGES)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago leader of the Islamic community defended National Public Radio’s decision to fire commentator Juan Williams, who said Muslims make him nervous on flights.

Williams made his comments Monday on FOX News Channel. He said his remarks ended his career with NPR, but the radio network’s CEO said Williams’ firing came after “several cases” of the commentator veering from journalistic ethics.

Supporters say Williams was stating his opinion, and therefore just exercising his freedom of speech. But Muslim groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, applaud his firing.

“I thought that NPR did the right thing,” Ahmed Rehab said. “They have a reputation to protect, and clearly his unobjective and sensational characterizations were not a good fit for their objective standards of journalism.”

Rehab says comments like those made by Williams encourage the stereotypes that generate fear of Muslims.

“There seems to be a refusal and willful ignorance when it comes to the simple notion that Muslims are not one in the same with terrorists,” he said.

News of Williams’ firing came as Muslim groups were encouraging Chicago area Muslims to take an active role in the mid-term elections so their voices will be heard. The groups are also continuing their daily work to end misinformation and misconceptions about Muslims.

Not everyone is outraged by Williams’ comments, and some of his supporters are now calling on Congress to withhold all funding for NPR. He reportedly just signed a new deal three-year deal with Fox News for nearly $2 million.

CBS 2′s Mai Martinez contributed to this report.

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