An Arab-American's candidacy for a county office was squashed Saturday amid a furor over comments he made four years ago that some interpreted as sympathetic to suicide bombers.
At issue are comments Merhi made at a September 2002 fundraiser for US Representative Bill Pascrell. In his remarks, Merhi condemned the September 11 terrorists as "cold-blooded murderers" and "crazy fanatics." When asked if he would apply the same label to Palestinian suicide bombers who target Israelis, Merhi said, "I can't see the comparison."
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Merhi said the point he was trying to make was that while all murder is wrong, the World Trade Center attack was mass murder on an unprecedented scale. It also was an attack in which his godson was killed.
"I'm in shock, feeling betrayed," said Sami Merhi, a Lebanese-born businessman. "They should be ashamed of themselves."