Feminist icon Gloria Steinem didn't make any friends in the American Muslim community yesterday with her attack on aging swinger Hugh Hefner in The New York Observer.
"I think Gloria Steinem should know better," said Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, after Steinem claimed Hef's multi-girlfriend lifestyle is "Moslem."
"Her most glaring error is that having girlfriends outside of marriage is hardly encouraged by Islam, and secondly, polygamy is practiced by less than 2% of the global Muslim population."
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, agreed.
"Any time an opinion leader uses a reference to Islam as a pejorative, we would have concerns about that," Hooper told me. "Muslims are getting tired of references to their beliefs or practices - or alleged beliefs or practices - as a way of digging at other people."
The 71-year-old Steinem was quoted by Observer writer Sheelah Kolhatkar as slagging off the 79-year-old, divorced Playboy founder: "He's such a jerk. He's so pathetic. ... Now's he's going around with four young women in their 20s instead of just one. It's sort of Moslem, actually."
Steinem didn't respond to a voice mail left at her office, but Lekovic suggested she apologize - or at least issue a public correction.
"To equate Hugh Hefner with any religion is an insult to that religion," Lekovic told me.
Hooper added: "If Steinem is truly a person who values inclusiveness and tolerance in society, she should avoid using religous references in her personal disputes."
As for Hef, "I think the Muslim community would like to stay as far away from him as they could."