BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"The President was said to be very upset that such a mistake could have happened"
 real 28k

Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 02:37 GMT 03:37 UK
Bush apologises to Muslims over gaffe
Secret Service Sharp Shooters outside the White House
The Secret Service admitted it made a mistake
US President George Bush has apologised over an incident at the White House, when a visiting Muslim community leader was mistakenly ordered out of the building.

A uniformed Secret Service officer approached 20-year-old Abdallah al-Arian, a member of a Muslim delegation, and asked him to leave immediately. No reason was given.


The president is very concerned that an action was taken that was wrong and inappropriate, and the president apologises for it

White House spokesman
The whole group of visiting Muslim leaders then left in protest. When the Secret Service realised that it had made a mistake, the Muslims were invited back, but they declined.

"The president is very concerned that an action was taken that was wrong and inappropriate, and the president apologises for it on behalf of the White House," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Funding meeting

The Muslim leaders were at the Old Executive Office Building for a meeting to discuss President Bush's faith-based initiative, that calls for providing federal funds to religious organisations involved in charity and community work.

Mazen al-Najjar, reunited with his wife after his release six months ago
Mr al-Arian's uncle was imprisoned by the US
Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations welcomed Mr Bush's apology.

But he called for the White House to appoint a full-time liaison officer to the Muslim community, to "dispel impressions within the Muslim community that there's some kind of exclusion from his policy-making circles".

The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Washington says that there has still been no explanation as to why Mr al-Arian, a student doing volunteer work in Washington, should have been ejected.

But his uncle, a Palestinian academic, was imprisoned for three years without trial by the US authorities after being accused of links with Islamic militants. Mazen al-Najjar was released six months ago.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

26 Apr 01 | Americas
Islam 'booming' in America
27 Feb 00 | Americas
Farrakhan bid for Islamic unity
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories