ANAHEIM, Calif. – A Muslim civil liberties group demanded an apology Thursday from the host of a Los Angeles-area radio show for making fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslims during an annual pilgrimage.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked for an apology from KFI-AM 640 host Bill Handel, who allegedly made fun of the deaths the same day they happened during a segment he called the "Annual Stampede Report."
A spokeswoman for KFI, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications, did not immediately return a message left Thursday. Handel's producer, Michelle Kube, also did not return calls for comment. Handel had left work for the day and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
At least 363 pilgrims were killed and hundreds injured in a stampede Jan. 12 in Mecca, where thousands of people were rushing to carry out a symbolic ritual of stoning the devil.
According to the civil liberties group, Handel imitated the people screaming and then joked that the Muslims at the pilgrimage should use a helicopter to monitor pilgrimage traffic, as is done in Los Angeles with the freeways.
The group quoted Handel as saying: "This is Mahmoud Nolan. Hajj in the Sky. There is an accident. ... Ali lost his sandal on the on-ramp to the Martin Luther King Jr. freeway."
In March 2004, KFI issued an on-air apology after the group filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission following a skit that claimed Muslims have sex with animals, don't bathe and hate Jews.
"The deaths of hundreds of people engaged in religious observances is no laughing matter," Sabiha Khan, the group's spokeswoman, said in a statement. "KFI needs to distance itself from Mr. Handel's unbelievable insensitivity by issuing a formal apology and a reprimand."