UPDATED 08/10/12 12:30 p.m.
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (CBS) — Comments made by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) about Islam earlier this week continue to generate a response – and generally not a positive one.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Walsh was asked at a town hall on Wednesday about the threat of radical Islam.
The Tea Party-backed Congressman replied that radical Islam is “a real threat.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
“One thing I’m sure of is that there are people in this country – there is a radical strain of Islam in this country – it’s not just over there – trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat, and it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11,” Walsh said.
Walsh went on to claim that radical Islam had found its way into the Chicago suburbs, including some that he represents.
“It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin. It’s here,” he said.
Walsh went on to say that even though he believes in limited government, but, “This is one thing I want my government to do is protecting us against this threat, because let’s be honest, folks, it is a threat.”
He also repeated an old warning that was frequently heard in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but not so often today – that another 9/11 is “not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”
Walsh went so far as to blame the federal government for the Fort Hood Massacre nearly three years ago. He said the government was trying to be politically correct and not offend Muslims, so much so that an American Muslim in the Army allegedly killed 13 people.
Ahmet Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says Walsh’s comments are “consistent with the rise of the radical right, and the insistence by some in the Republican Party that Americans should be suspicious and fearful of fellow Americans.”
“It’s just ridiculous,” Rehab told WBBM Newsradio Friday morning. “It’s preying on a vulnerable minority, or political aggrandization for political points.”
The council blames statements like Walsh’s for an increase in hate crimes.
But Walsh is doubling down on his comments. While Islamic groups want him to apologize, he replies, “We cannot let political correctness blind us to reality,” and that the reality is that “there is a radical minority that wants to destroy America.”