WICHITA, Kan. – A commissioner in the second most populous Kansas county put on a slide presentation at a local government meeting showing convicted criminals with the name Mohammed, prompting a Muslim group to respond that American politicians seem to be racing to see who is the more bigoted.
The Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged Kansas political and religious leaders to repudiate views expressed a day earlier by Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn. The county includes the city of Wichita.
Saying he was providing "a public warning for citizens," Peterjohn put on a slide presentation depicting photos of people named Mohammed or some derivation of it. Among those depicted in the slides were Mohamed Atta, one of leaders of the Sept. 11 attacks and John Allen Muhammed, who was executed for the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper attacks.
Commissioners also passed on a 4-1 vote two resolutions offering condolences to Russia and France for the recent attacks, while condemning U.S. leaders for not calling those attacks "Islamic terrorism."
Peterjohn did not return a phone message left at his office seeking comment.
"What I am hearing from our community is a lot of people are very concerned about this crescendo of calls from different politicians, mostly unfortunately Republican politicians, that are almost racing to see who is more bigoted than the other," said Moussa Elbayoumy, Kansas board chairman for CAIR.
Mohammed is one of the most common names in the world, he noted.
The Kansas remarks added to an increasingly Islamophobic atmosphere that can lead to violence and intimidation targeting American Muslims, Elbayoumy said.
Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, said a lot of "real good people" — in sports and politics — also have the name Mohammed.