The website of a Catholic civil rights group was hacked over the weekend, apparently by Islamic extremists.

William Donohue, president of the New York City-based Catholic League, said the breach began yesterday, one day after his comments about the controversial new Hollywood film on the Crusades, “The Kingdom of Heaven,” were published in the New York Post.

The unknown hackers replaced the home page with one of their own, featuring a photo of a Palestinian holding a rock in each hand, facing down Israeli soldiers. It included epithets against President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, called for freedom for “Palestine” and Iraq and sent greetings to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The site was restored this afternoon.

In the Post article, Donohue was quoted saying: “It is a matter of historical record that Muslim violence – in the form of a jihad – was responsible for Christians striking back, hence the Crusades. Yet in the film, it is the Christians who are the bad guys. This is on the order of doing a movie on the Warsaw Ghetto and blaming the Jews for all the violence.”

Catholic League spokeswoman Kiera McCaffrey told WorldNetDaily her group does not know who committed the website breach but has contacted New York City police and the FBI.

The hackers’ message reads:

PRI[ll was here

F— BUSH – F— SHARON

FREE PALESTINE – FREE IRAQ

Morocco RuleZ

Greetz : ALL Palistnian people – Ben_laden – sadam – ch33ta – Mianwalian – mani1 – [code] – nEt^DeViL

& all Moroccan Hackerz

Responding to the hacker’s content, Donohue said in a statement, “I really can’t stand dealing with illiterates. If these jerks can spell Palestine correctly, why can’t they spell Palestinian people correctly? And I’m not so sure that bin Laden and Saddam would care to know that their names have been misspelled.”

The Catholic League is the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, defending “the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination.”

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