Some local Middle Easterners outraged comments made by Congressman Duncan D. Hunter

EL CAJON, Calif. - Some members of the local Middle Eastern community are outraged over the controversial comments made on C-SPAN by local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-50th District).

"In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible, no matter what it takes, that includes lying," Hunter said in an interview that aired Monday.

10News showed two minutes of the interview to Ben Kalasho, president of the newly formed San Diego-East County Chaldean American Chamber Of Commerce.

"It's not in good taste at all. I think a lot of people will take offense to that, especially that he's an elected official," said Kalasho, who is a Democrat running for the vacant El Cajon City Council seat.

Kalasho said the East County is home to more than 80,000 Middle Easterners, and he believes Hunter should not make these generalizations, especially when many of his own constituents are from the Middle East.

"If you are willing to blow yourself up and commit suicide in order to blow up other people, you are not a rational person and that's what you are dealing with when you are dealing with the Iranians," Hunter said in the interview.

Kalasho added, "He's got to be careful here because there are a lot of Middle Eastern Muslims who don't blow themselves up, who are sickened by that notion, and there is a lot of Christians from the Middle East who don't behave in this way."

10News Hunter's office and were told by Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Kasper that Hunter was talking specifically about the political culture.

"He was talking about the political culture from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and others that doesn't promote good faith negotiations. He agrees that he could have been more articulate on the issue, but he most certainly wasn't talking about Middle East culture generally," Kasper said.

Kalasho believes Hunter owes the Middle Eastern community an apology.

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