3 Denver DJs play anthem in mosque may be fired

On-air radio prank offends Muslims


DENVER -- Three Denver disc jockeys may face dismissal from their jobs and charges of trespassing and harassment after barging into a mosque in a Denver suburb to blast "The Star-Spangled Banner" on a trumpet and a bugle as an on-air prank earlier this week.

The disc jockeys, Joey Teehan, Dean Myers and Roger Beaty, from the alternative rock radio station KBPI, entered the mosque in Aurora, a suburb just east of Denver, after the morning prayers Tuesday when only a few worshipers remained, said Mohamed Jodeh, president of the Colorado Muslim Society.

When the worshipers approached the disc jockeys, one tried to put headphones on a Muslim to conduct a live interview, Mr. Jodeh said. The three remained in the mosque for about 15 minutes until the local sheriff's office was called, he added.

A witness said one disc jockey wore a mock turban and a T-shirt depicting Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the Denver Nuggets basketball player who was the center of controversy earlier this month when he refused to stand for the national anthem because of his religious beliefs.

After being suspended for one game, he agreed to stand with his team and pray during the anthem. Mr. Abdul-Rauf prays at the mosque where the incident occurred, but was traveling with the team and could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Jodeh, whose organization has about 50,000 members, told reporters yesterday that "a holy place has been desecrated." The intruders, he said, had "disrespected our sanctity."

Wearing shoes and playing music in a Muslim mosque are forbidden; witnesses said all three disc jockeys wore shoes in the mosque.

Mr. Myers and Mr. Beaty are known as "shock jocks" who feature outrageous on-air pranks. The prank was part of a morning show called "Torture Tuesday."

After leaving the mosque, they went on to play the national anthem at other places in the city.

The three disc jockeys could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts to call them. But the radio station issued a statement of apology saying that "KBPI's Morning Show used extremely poor judgment."

As for the disc jockeys, the statement said, "Their actions were not authorized by their program director and demonstrated thoughtlessness and inferior judgment."

A spokesman for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department said it was considering charging the disc jockeys with trespassing and harassment.

Mr. Jodeh said he filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday after the radio station failed to respond to his calls.

In Washington, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is trying to determine what charges can be filed at the federal level.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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