SAN FRANCISCO – A conservative radio talk show host sued an Islamic civil rights group on Monday for copyright infringement over the organization's use of a portion of his show in which he called the Koran a "book of hate."
Michael Savage said the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, violated his rights by wrongfully using a 4-minute segment of his Oct. 29 "The Savage Nation" show in a letter-writing campaign directed against talk radio advertisers. Audio from the show remained on CAIR's Web site Monday.
In the broadcast, Savage called the Muslim holy book "a throwback document" and a "book of hate."
"What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate," Savage said during the portion of the broadcast highlighted by CAIR. "Don't tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation."
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Savage said he was talking about Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his dangerous and violent brand of Islamic extremism, not about the religion in general.
Savage said he strongly supports freedom of speech, but "it's another thing to take away a man's millstone and try to put him out of business."
A CAIR spokeswoman, who said the audio was not a four-minute segment, but a series of clips separated by beeps, called the suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, "bizarre, sloppy and baseless."
"We expect to prevail based on the facts, the law and the Constitution," Amina Rubin said.
The group's "repackaging" of Savage's comments was "deliberately designed to obscure the specific message conveyed by Michael Savage," according to the suit. "The actual message, while highly provocative and strongly worded, was not intended as an attack on people of faith."
CAIR claims advertisers have stopped airing or refuse to air commercials during Savage's show.
Bill Crawford, a spokesman for Talk Radio Network, which syndicates the Savage show, said "there have been advertisers who've canceled Michael's show because of the CAIR situation." He refused to identify the companies or reveal the amount of lost revenue. Savage said he's lost at least $1 million in revenue.
The suit alleges CAIR is not a civil rights group, but a political organization funded by foreigners with ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups. CAIR denies those claims, saying it opposes terrorism and religious extremism.