Jerry Klein's 2006 radio experiment

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On November 26, 2006, radio host Jerry Klein of WMAL 630 AM (covering Washington DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland) had a program that was "focused on public reaction to the removal of six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, from a US Airways flight."[1] (See Flying Imams controversy). In an effort to gauge his audience's reaction, he said that force should be applied to ensure that all Muslims in America wear "identifying markers. ...I'm thinking either it should be an arm band, a crescent moon arm band, or it should be a crescent moon tattoo. ...If it means that we have to round them up and do a tattoo in a place where everybody knows where to find it, then that's what we'll have to do."[1]

The response was overwhelming and "the phone lines jammed instantly". Klein later stated that "The switchboard went from empty to totally jammed within minutes. There were plenty of callers angry with me, but there were plenty who agreed."[1] While some callers said he was "off his rocker", others insisted that his statement did not go far enough, calling for forced mass exile: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country... they are here to kill us." Others called for Muslims to be placed in internment camps: "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans.""[1]

At the end of the program, Klein revealed that his remarks had been a hoax, saying, "I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said. For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting ... because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."[1] A week later, Klein also expressed surprise at how much international media coverage the story got. "You should know that I've received email from around the world, interview requests from the BBC and Channel 4 in England".[2][3]

A Gallup poll the preceding summer had found that 39% of Americans were in favor of requiring Muslims, including those who were citizens, to bear special identification identifying them as such.[1][2][3][4]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f Bernd Debusmann (February 25, 2007). "In U.S., fear and distrust of Muslims runs deep". Reuters.  Retrieved on Dec. 16, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Gary Younge (December 11, 2006). "At least in America they understand the notion of cultural difference". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12.  Retrieved Dec. 19, 2006. Reprinted as Gary Younge (11 December 2006). "Understanding the notion of cultural difference". Mail & Guardian, South Africa. Archived from the original on 21 April 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Abdus Sattar Ghazali (23 December 2006). "2006: Another tough year for American Muslims". The Milli Gazette.  Retrieved on Dec. 27, 2006
  4. ^ Sheikh, Irum (2008). "Racializing, Criminalizing, and Silencing 9/11 Deportees". In Brotherton, David; Kretsedemas, Philip. Keeping out the other: a critical introduction to immigration enforcement today. Columbia University Press. p. 88. 

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