THE MEDIA

ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST FEEL UNDER THREAT TODAY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH SHINING A LITTLE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT ON MUSLIMS AND ISLAM?

The spotlight is not the problem but unjust and biased, one-sided coverage is.

Featuring deeply bigoted and belligerent individuals who demonise Muslims and Islam as a religion by spouting all kinds of vitriol using factually incorrect information is a problem when the media ought to examine more closely how these individuals often times speak and write with a seemingly subtle agenda aimed at only justifying the recent series of foreign policy blunders of the West in Muslim- majority countries.

“So why is it so important for pundits and chat show hosts, who are intent on presenting themselves as educated and liberal, to trash Islam with simplifying, blanket statements? . . . More seriously, what is the overriding agenda?

Trashing Islam is about disseminating simplistic ideas that lend support to precise political goals, and it allows supporters of certain aspects of US foreign policy to justify past, present, and future mistakes. If American voters can be given the impression that most Muslims are sexist, homophobic, intolerant fanatics who murder and behead at the drop of a hat, then they may just believe that it is necessary to invade countries in which Muslims are the majority – it hardly matters which country, as long as wrecking its political, economic, and social fabric serves the primary goals of controlling oil resources, profiting from the arms trade, and allowing Israel to feel safe (irrespective of whether its feelings of insecurity correspond to reality)”. (Source: Why is Ben Affleck defending Islam by Lana Asfour, 6 October 2014 on Aljazeera. com/English)

WHY CAN’T THE MEDIA FREELY WRITE ABOUT MUSLIMS AND ISLAM AND ALLOW ANYONE TO SPEAK THEIR MIND ON ISLAM AND THE MUSLIM WORLD?

The media ought to be free to write about Islam and ordinary Muslims but is it too much to ask that the media at the very least get some of its basic facts right, especially when it comes to practices that are rooted in culture versus clear, unambiguous injunctions that condemn such practices such as honour killings, female genital mutilation, women’s dress codes among a wide range of issues, repeatedly misreported by the mainstream press, thus:

“Clumsily creating a tinderbox for anti-Muslim madness’, in the words of James Ragland, columnist at Dallas News. (Source: Muslims are now an organized political force in Irving, James Ragland, Columnist James Ragland, May 2016, Dallas News)

Like the actual Jew-hating Anti-Semites of the past, the Islamophobes of today in the media employ the same timeless tactic of broad-brushing every 1.6 billion Muslim individual into an amorphous and frightening group by hyping what Muslims will take from “us” in terms of law and order, country and jobs. This needs to change. Write about Muslims and Islam; Criticise Muslims if you have to but hold the same standards to people of other faiths and atheists as well.

If the current status quo continues unabated, there is surely more trouble ahead for the West and its Muslim & non-Muslim citizens as the article below very neatly makes a strong case for why people invited to speak ought to be at least vetted on matters of Islam, Middle Eastern a airs, politics and history or else there is nothing but continuing hatred and despair ahead on both sides of the fence:

“While a few knowledgeable individuals have been invited for rare media appearances, all too often the networks have let laziness win out dragging out a cast of “regulars” – former military officers, current or former elected officials, and paid “talking heads”. They may know a few choice Arabic words (Sunni, Shia, Jihadi, etc.) and can use a few of them in a sentence. But experts, they are not . . . To hear these “experts” pontificating about Islam or Arab culture is more than annoying. It’s downright dangerous . . . Instead of making us aware of the enormous complexities involved in these conflict zones, they reduce them to simple and easy clichés . . . America has been down this road before in the Middle East – with tragic results. I fear we may be heading there once again. During the past four decades we’ve been deeply involved across this region, but because we’ve known so little about its peoples, cultures and history – all too often our involvement has spelled disaster . . . To the first they responded — “they hate us because they hate our values and are envious of our success” or “they hate us because they have been taught to hate us” or ” they have failed because their religion is fundamentally backward””. Instead of shattering myths enabling us to see our way forward to bridging the chasm that separated the West from the Arab and Muslim peoples, they accented our fears and contributed to deepening the divide . . . Our political leadership, with most media outlets cheering them on, committed hundreds of thousands of our young men and women to fight and lose their lives in two failed wars. Bush invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq without any real understanding of their history or people – not knowing where we were going and what the consequences of our blunders would be . . . Our polling shows that the overwhelming majority of Arabs love American values and culture, people and products, and the advances Americans have made in science and technology. What they don’t like about us are our policies, which so negatively affect their lives. Far from being fanatics, Arabs tell us that what they value most are their families and their work. They watch TV to be entertained. And their mosque attendance rates are roughly the same as church attendance rates in the U.S.?”. (Source: We need to know more, but the experts aren’t helping by James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute on 18 October 2014, Huffington Post)

SO MUSLIMS WANT THE MEDIA TO STOP WRITING ABOUT ISLAM THEN?

There is nothing better for Muslims than for the media to write about Islam and ordinary Muslims, as long as they are well-balanced with views of Muslims and non-Muslims included, however critical – instead of featuring only quotes by misinformed pundits, known Islamophobes, right-wing politicians among others with a history of bias against Islam and ordinary Muslims.

Journalists too, ought to be able to ask probing questions and should have creativity, fearless expression and polemical inquiry at their disposal but is it too unreasonable for Muslims to ask that one should avoid conflating two or three irrelevant examples to justify a sweeping generalisation about Islam and ordinary Muslims? In fact, free speech should not be restricted. Speech that incites violence should be restricted, a curious exception given when it comes to other minorities but frequently debated when it comes to Muslims.

DO MUSLIMS EXPECT ADVERTORIALS EVERYTIME WE IN THE MEDIA REPORT ABOUT MUSLIMS?

No one needs to read or watch advertorials about Islam or ordinary Muslims but the very least the media can do is try and understand a faith that is embraced by one-fourth the world population by getting its’ facts right before inviting appropriately qualified people on the show or opinion writers who actually understand the subject. The current journalistic one-sided approach of covering Islam and Muslims with hours and hours of biased and misinformed coverage, heavy on talking heads but light on facts is simply not sustainable.

In the precise words of longtime subscriber of the NYT, Nancy Cadet who rightly observed: “The falsehoods and their repercussions live on long after the stories have been corrected or disputed.” (Source: Systematic change needed after faulty Times article by Margaret Sullivan, 18 December 2015, New York Times)

As yet another example of chaos manufactured by the media: It was tailor-made for the anti-immigration press: a crazed man wearing a suicide vest “filled with gasoline and gunpowder” enters a supermarket in a small town in northwestern Spain, shouts “Allahu Akbar!” and opens fire. Mercifully, no one is killed, but customers flee in terror. The story runs in a local paper, is quickly picked up by an assortment of media in the US and the UK, and then shared widely on Twitter and Facebook. Anti-Muslim figures claim, with heads shaking in disapproval, that the attack symbolizes everything that is wrong with Islam. One small problem: it didn’t happen. Yes, a man did enter a supermarket in the town of Ourense and red shots. That, however, is where fact ends and fantasy begins. The suicide vest? Didn’t exist. Shooting at customers? No, he hit some bottles. Crazy lunatic on a rampage? At one point in the surveillance video we can see the man sitting down and eating a banana. Was the town in shock? No. What about his screaming “Allahu Akbar”? It was then reported that this was actually a man from the Basque region “with decreased mental faculties”, and that someone mistook the words he spoke in Euskara (a regional language) for Arabic . . . There was no Bowling Green massacre? Well, OK, but there could have been one, and it would have been a Muslim who did it. In the flexible world of bigotry, we can even condemn people for crimes committed in our minds . . . In one of the more astonishing stories of 2017, last week the German tabloid Bild claimed that on New Year’s Eve in Frankfurt, a huge group of intoxicated Muslim men, most of them refugees, had formed a “rioting sex mob” and assaulted scores of women. The story contained “eyewitness” accounts and even interviews with purported victims. Naturally, it was picked up internationally and spread via social media . . . One week later, however, police in Frankfurt declared that the story was completely false: no such sexual assaults had been reported, the “victim” in question was not even in Frankfurt at the time, and two individuals were now under investigation for starting the false rumors and wasting police resources . . . Bild is the largest-selling newspaper in Europe, with a circulation of about 3m per day, but it has come under attack from other outlets in Germany for stoking anti-immigrant and anti- Muslim flames. When the police announced that the Frankfurt incident was false, Bild published an apology, and claimed that the story, “in no way met the journalistic standards” of the paper. But the fact remains that it was published and reproduced globally, and no quantity of retractions, excuses or apologies from the outlets that ran with it will heal the damage. (Source: Europe’s biggest paper ran a bogus refugee ‘sex mob’ story. What now?, Christian Christensen, 17 February 2017, The Guardian)

HOW CAN YOU BLAME THE MEDIA WHEN MUSLIMS ARE VIOLENT?

In an era where news has more to do with speed than accuracy, the opinion shapers who today control the media has shown itself to be on par with wall street bankers, weapons manufacturers and drug dealers when it comes to ethics. This despite all the grand mission and vision statements that in actual fact is based on a matter that comes out of the lower bottom of a bull.

Using the following as an example, if the majority of airtime can be spent debating the “radicalisation” of young Muslim men, should we not see equal if not more airtime examining the radicalisation of American right-wing Christians? But this is far from the present status quo let alone the deafening silence for example, from the sitting US President Trump every time there is an act of violence by a white supremacist.

BUT JOURNALISTS ARE ONLY DOING THEIR JOBS.

To cite examples of character misrepresentation:
A young Jewish American man [was] charged with pretending to be an Australian-based Islamic State jihadist after a FBI joint investigation with the Australian Federal Police based on information provided by Fairfax Media . . . Joshua Ryne Goldberg, a 20-year old living at his parents’ house in US state of Florida, is accused of posing online as “Australi Witness,” an IS supporter who publicly called for a series of attacks against individuals and events in Western countries. (Source: FBI says ‘Australian IS jihadist’ is actually a Jewish American troll named Joshua Ryne Goldberg by Elise Potaka and Luke McMahon on September 12 2015, Sydney Morning Herald)

In April 2017, three German soldiers, with obvious rightwing extremist conviction’ were arrested after they were caught posing as asylum seekers in a planned terror plot. The plan was to make their attack look like the work of Islamist militants, and the target included the Germany Justice Ministry as well as a few other key landmarks in Germany, based on seized materials as reported by Der Spiegel magazine.

As part of an elaborate plan, one of the soldiers had previously been detained in late January 2017 by Austrian authorities on suspicion of having hidden an illegal gun in a bathroom at Vienna’s main airport in Schwechat . . . and had intended to have the finger prints of a Syrian asylum seeker on the gun, which he wanted to use in a possible attack and leave at the scene. Using a fake identity, the soldiers had also registered as a Syrian refugee to find a target, whom the attack could be blamed upon (Source: ‘Xenophobic’ German soldier, student suspected of planning attack, Apr 27, 2017, Reuters)

This incident was revealed only days after prosecutors in Germany revealed that a German-Russian citizen, Sergei W orchestrated the April 2017 Dortmund bus bombings, detonating three bombs targeting a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund football team, in an attempt to frame ISIS and to make as much as 3.9 million euros on shares of the company using put options, a stockbroking product that enables the buyer to pro t when the share price of a given company falls. Preying on our fear of ISIS and terrorism, Sergei selfishly committed an act that could have led to loss of many lives.

Earlier in February 2017: The German mass-circulation daily Bild “emphatically” apologised to its readers for an article that said a “mob” of Arab men had sexually assaulted women on New Year’s Eve in a Frankfurt restaurant, after the police said that an investigation had failed to turn up any evidence . . . Bild has a daily circulation of 2.5 million and often sets the tone for political discussions in Germany, and the decision by prosecutors to open an investigation reflects broader concerns in the country about the spreading of false stories and anti-immigrant or anti-European propaganda. (Source: Bild Apologizes for False Article on Sexual Assaults in Frankfurt by Migrants, Melissa Eddy, 16 February 2017, New York Times) The key therefore is to not believe everything reported in the press.

BUT MUSLIMS ALREADY GET PLENTY OF POSITIVE AIRTIME IN THE MEDIA.

Unfortunately, the Muslim culture for the past four decades has been depicted in the media as unchanging and monolithic whereas Muslims are today unfairly portrayed as backwards, irrational and aggressive fanatics. (Source: What is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today? By Emma Howard, 9 July 2014, The Guardian)

 The current media discourse about Islam is filled with essentialist paranoia, fear, and the commentary of people who not only understand little about the religion but are often dismissive of people who do. The media also has a tendency of placing Muslims all in one box. This is not only silly but also harmful especially if the ultimate goal is to understand the problem better. (Source: Can Muslims write about Christianity, 28 July 2013 by Dan Murphy at Christian Science Monitor)

Unfortunately, Islamophobia is not only tolerated on US and European news channels but it is often the default position of large, leading high-pro le media organisations today. (Source: It’s not just Fox News: Islamophobia on cable news is out of control by Max Fisher, 13 January 2015, Vox)

WHILE THERE ARE SOME NEGATIVE REPORTS ABOUT MUSLIMS, MUSLIMS ARE GIVEN FAIR BIT OF COVERAGE AS WELL.

If this is the case, try producing a refutation on any of the following inconvenient yet important questions:

(1) Why are terror attacks in the West given more column inches than attacks in Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan or Beirut when often more lives are lost in Muslim-majority countries?;

(2) What is the common denominator that disqualifies Muslim- majority countries from receiving wall-to-wall coverage granted to attacks in the West when each life lost is just as much a political point made by the terrorists?;

(3) How heinous and violent do acts of terror in Muslim-majority countries need to be for the governments in the West to interrupt almost every high pro le news broadcast to condemn it?;

(4) How many multiples in terms of civilian casualties does an act of terrorism in a Muslim-majority country need to achieve in order for flags to fly at half-mast in the West?;

(5) Where is the act of solidarity at the Tower Bridge, Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House or other monuments when a Muslim- majority country is attacked?;

(6) When a city in the West is attacked, “global” news media reassign leading anchors and journalists providing 24/7 coverage but when Muslims come under attack, the same media outlets do not cover the event with one-tenth the intensity and breadth?;

(7) Where is the outpouring of touching stories about ordinary Muslims or detailed pro les about the heroism of the locals killed when Muslims come under attack?;

(8) When Muslims are killed, why are they brushed aside as casualties of sectarian conflict when these have more to do with politics and less with sectarianism but when citizens of the West are killed, they become universal icons of free speech and liberty when these are often killed as a result of misguided foreign policies of the West?;

(9) Why are European deaths a tragedy while Muslim civilians killed by drones and bombs dusted aside as nothing more than collateral damage?;

(10) Why do ordinary civilians in the West not wear black ribbons or where is the march in solidarity and vigils honouring the dead when the victims of terrorism happen to be in Muslim-majority countries?; &

(11) Why is there no “Pray for Baghdad,” or no “Je Suis Pakistan” on Twitter trending in the West when ordinary Muslims are killed? Nor are there memes on Instagram of unified global grief when Muslims fall victim to terrorism? (Source: Various articles)

PEOPLE IN THE WEST ARE CONCERNED ABOUT MUSLIM CASUALTIES ELSEWHERE.

People in the West let alone in most parts of the World express regret for the civilian deaths in the West but when Muslim civilians are killed there are no memorial services or candlelit vigils on Western television. Why?

In fact decades ago, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky coined the term “worthy and unworthy victims” to differentiate between those whose suffering benefits a particular ideological or political agenda, and those whose suffering does not.(Source: Trump’s silence after the London mosque attack speaks volumes, Christian Christensen, 20 June 2017, The Guardian)

To that end, here are some more pointed (rather uncomfortable) questions from a terrorism expert:

“Would it have been morally different if a plane had own over London on July 7 and dropped four bombs, killing fifty-two civilians?

Would it be any more acceptable if the perpetrators argued that the targets of the raid were police stations, electricity supply lines or key logistical installations rather than civilians, who were only collateral damage?

If four bombs managed to terrorise London and place Britain on edge, what was the effect on the people of Baghdad of hundreds of bombs raining on their city each day during the invasion?

How would you feel if Iraqi troops were walking along your street? They might occasionally break into your home and arrest someone you love.

If they said they invaded Britain to give you a better life, would you welcome their presence?

Is it licit to drop bombs from fifty thousand feet in the e ort to kill terrorists – with predictable widespread deaths of innocents – but immoral for a single suicide bomber to kill the enemy from five feet in the struggle for national liberation, also killing innocents?

No doubt some acts of terrorism are quite indiscriminate and specifically designed to spread fear and demoralization; but what then of Dresden, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, in which the major purpose of the exercise, was to terrify and demoralise – in modern parlance, to create ‘’shock and awe’’ to win the conflict. (Source: Phil Rees, Author, Dining with Terrorists)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

CHARLIE HEBDO, MUSLIMS & FREEDOM OF SPEECH

WHY ARE ALL MUSLIMS, ANTI “JE SUIS CHARLIE”?

If I [had responded] to the attacks in Paris by saying, “Je Suis Charlie”, what would I be insinuating? Of course I would be condemning the attacks, but I would also be promoting the mocking of Muhammad [PBUH]. I unequivocally condemn [all] the terrorist attacks in France and pray for the families of the victims. Terrorism has no place in Islam. (Source: Ibrahim Ijaz, San Jose, Letter to The Editor, 15 January 2015, L.A Times)

“The killings at the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are abhorrent. But let us not forget the daily abhorrence of our wars in the Muslim World, wars that have seen over a million Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Pakistanis, Somalis, Syrians and Yemenis killed and millions more wounded and maimed physically and psychologically, while millions of men, women and children endure another cold winter, homeless and hungry . . . For to believe that the attack in Paris was a tragedy singularly about a cartoon or as an event solely to be defined as an assault on freedom of expression, is to be daft and incongruent with the history and reality of American and Western policy in the Middle East”. (Matthew Hoh, Veterans for Peace (Source: I stand with Charlie Hebdo but I also stand with the victims of Our bombs, January 9 2015, Huffington Post)

BILL MAHER IN EARLY 2015 ASKED: “SINCE THEY WERE PROTESTING ME FOR ONCE SAYING THAT ISLAM IS ‘THE ONLY RELIGION THAT ACTS LIKE THE MAFIA (AND WILL) KILL YOU IF YOU SAY THE WRONG THING OR DRAW THE WRONG PICTURE . . .’ AND THEN TWO JIHADISTS GUNNED DOWN 12 PEOPLE IN PARIS FOR SAYING THE WRONG THING AND DRAWING THE WRONG PICTURE,” HE ASKED: “YOU HAVE TO TELL ME, WHERE DO I GO TO PROTEST YOU?”

No one is denying there are individuals with Muslim names today who will go on a violent rampage if you “say the wrong thing or draw the wrong picture . . .” but why is Islam as a religion on the dock if an individual with a Muslim name does not obey its teachings? Where does it say in the Qur’an, Muslims should kill person X if he/she “says the wrong thing or draws the wrong picture”? Did most ordinary Muslims, Islamic community leaders, Islamic scholars and Islamic countries condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings or celebrate the shootings?

Was it not a French Muslim police officer (Ahmed Merabat), who was gunned down by the self-claimed Muslim attackers who killed 17 people in France in January 2015? Was it not a Muslim supermarket clerk (Lassana Bathily) that saved the lives of 15 French Jews the next day? How is it then “Islam is the only religion that acts like the Mafia”?

People with twisted ideologies are the problem, whether you follow Islam, Christianity (Anders Breivik), Judaism (Baruch Goldstein), Hinduism (RSS), Buddhism (Ashin Wirathu) or for that matter, Atheism (Craig Stephen Hicks – UNC North Carolina). Not religion, not race nor country of origin.

BUT MUSLIMS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACK.

While the shootings was a global outrage given how 17 lives were mercilessly lost, the fact that the gunmen shamelessly did it “in the name of Islam” helped reinforce the myth that Islam promotes violence. An untruth when again, it was none other than a French Muslim police officer, Ahmed Merabat who was the first to arrive on the scene and also killed by the gunmen or the fact that it was a West African Muslim immigrant, Lassana Bathily who saved the lives of 15 Jews the next day. Unfortunately it is too easy broad-brushing Islam and Muslims for the crime of a group of retards who committed a cowardly act of violence in direct contradiction to Islamic teachings of a true Muslim, Muhammad (PBUH).

Also, why do so many people in the West instinctively decide Islam is the reason the Islamic State attacked Paris, but would never attribute the Oklahoma City bombing to the fact that Timothy McVeigh was Catholic? Nobody associates all Seventh-day Adventists with David Koresh, who belonged to a splinter sect, or all of Judaism with Meir Kahane but when a person with a Muslim name is involved, the whole religion of Islam is besmirched. Why?

MUSLIMS LOVE CALLING FOR “RESPECT” FOR THEIR FAITH BUT DO NOT RESPECT CHARLIE HEBDO’S SATIRE OR FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

If freedom of speech is truly valued in the West, why did the French government stop climate change protesters during the summit in December 2015 or why were over 100 Muslims arrested who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks, however anti-Islamic the stance of supporting the killers or the barbaric killings were?

Does this not illustrate how “the French tradition of free expression is too full of contradictions to fully embrace”, in the fine words of Gary Trudeau, the first cartoonist recipient of the George Polk Award in April 2015 who said: “Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny – it’s just mean. By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech . . .

Even Charlie Hebdo once fired a writer for not retracting an anti-Semitic column. Apparently he crossed some red line that was in place for one minority but not another”. (Source: The Abuse of Satire by Gary Trudeau, 11 April 2015, The Atlantic)

In other words, shouldn’t satire focus on those who are rich, proud and the powerful instead of those who are less fortunate than we are since satire targeting victims of hatred is nothing less than bullying, an act that can never be worth a laugh.

In 2008, the left-leaning satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo fired a cartoonist who illustrated a crude image about President Sarkozy’s son alluding to a Jewish link and yet no one in Paris screamed for the need to defend “the right to freely express themselves”, illustrating apparently there are indeed limits to what can be written and drawn and that not everything can be said.

Unfortunately, when the public over-reaction that is, urge to “defend freedom of expression” in response to the tragic events from January 2015 unfolded, the troubling double standard at play became far too obvious for ordinary Muslims in France and the world over to ignore.

FRANCE AND AUSTRALIA ARE FIRM BELIEVERS IN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

If this were true then why are people in France prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech at higher rates than those spouting anti-Islamic views, (although Jew-baiting is wrong in every shape and form but by using the example of the double standards at play when it comes to Jews, the objective is very much to highlight the flaws in the system where certain people are criminalized for certain speech while the others have a free reign to o end).

The same argument could be applied to the French pro-Palestinian protesters whose demonstrations against Israel’s assault in Gaza in 2014 were banned. While the fight against anti-Semitism against the Jews is alive and kicking but regrettably, some parts of the West appear to be light years away from recoiling from its subconscious stance on Islamophobia.

In fact, politicians are in favour of provocation and free speech until Muslims exercise those freedoms, it seems (at which point it is quite conveniently called a “debate” like the Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s April 2017 statement about Anzac day for which she was heavily criticised and following a series of events, migrated from Australia to Britain in July 2017).

Given the right wing’s obsession with freedom of speech and their vitriolic rhetoric defending their right to o end, it is more than just interesting when the tables are turned. When something as holy as Anzac Day comes into the mix, then suddenly free speech becomes hate speech and causing offense is actually a big deal. But when it’s Muslims, people of colour, LGBT communities, etcetera, who are the victims, then it’s a whole other issue. Their freedom of speech does not need to be respected then. (Source: Freedom Of Speech Is A White Man’s Privilege by Masrur-Ul Islam Joarder, 28 April 2017, Huffington Post)

This reaction of course is not only limited to Australia but in Europe: Muslims are told to get used to be being offended and provoked by cartoonists but if the French public gets offended, oh well lets get the police to intimidate a woman into undressing in public to prove their worthiness as a free woman (Source: France defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to o end – so why can’t a Muslim woman in a burkini ‘offend’ us too?, Sunny Hundal, 25 August 2016, The Independent), one of many examples of how freedom of speech appears to be a white man’s privilege?

Last but not least, why is it okay to offend Muslims by making fun of its revered Prophet (PBUH) but not the Jews, victims of Jewish concentration camps or deny the Holocaust altogether such as by saying Holocaust was a mere “point of detail” of the second world war or that Nazi gas chambers were merely a “detail” of history. (Note: The Holocaust should not be denied nor any other wartime massacre or victims in history overlooked or mocked). It appears nevertheless Anti- Semitism is treated as a crime, while Islamophobia is tolerated if not given the denial, blind eye treatment.

GROUPS WITH MUSLIM NAMES HAVE CITED VERSES FROM THE QUR’AN BEFORE COMMITTING ACTS OF VIOLENCE WHENEVER MUHAMMAD (PBUH) IS CRITICISED OR MOCKED.

Cherry-picking or citing verses out of context is simply wrong. The Qur’an says in clear terms: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace”. (Qur’an 25:63). Yes, there are indeed a minority of Muslims who have zero patience for any criticism against Islam or Muslims but their actions do not represent Islam, especially when the injunction above, always to be read and understood with proper context and detailed interpretation, is crystal clear.

MUSLIMS ARE CLEARLY AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

The famous dictum attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, may not be far from the Koranic call for Muslims to “stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor: for God can best protect both”. (Source: What Muslims must learn from anti-trump protests in America, Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, 5 February 2017, SCMP)

Along a similar vein, Linda Sarsour, a leading Muslim American activist was quoted in an article titled “Muslims Defend Pam Geller’s Right to Hate”, saying “[Pamela] Geller can draw any damn cartoon she wants and I defend her right to do so. I have always fought for her right to be a bigot and I have the right to counter her bigotry with my own speech . . . The only hope is that the media covers our responses with the same zeal they cover the attack.”

But of course this is rarely the case:

“When you attack African-Americans, they call it Racism. When you attack Jews, they call it Anti-Semitism. When you attack women, they call it Sexism. When you attack homosexuality, they call it Intolerance. When you attack your country, they call it Treason. But when you attack the Prophet of Islam (PBUH), they call it freedom of speech and expression.” (Source: Widely circulated Facebook quote, unknown author)

FREE SPEECH IS ALL ABOUT DOING GOOD IN THIS WORLD.

If free speech absolutes were genuinely fighting for fearless freedom of expression and are sincere about doing true and lasting good in this world as they often claim in their defence, aren’t there countless of other urgent issues that these free speech heroes ought to consider giving some coverage to?

From writing about rights of the poor, minorities, disabled people, asylum seekers, working class migrants, rape victims, sex trafficking, teenage pregnancies, capital punishment, violence against women, human rights activists in jail, the role of western pornography in pedophilia, Western arm producers selling weapons to repressive regimes or abandoned army veterans who are sent overseas for war and come home scarred from emotional (PTSD) and/or physical disabilities or the hundreds of LGBTQI killed every year in Christian-majority as well as Muslim-majority countries around the world, – there are hundreds more worthwhile albeit controversial issues that deserve the right to be discussed and yet are very often overlooked by these so-called “free speech absolutes”. Why is that?

In fact, author and American journalist Glenn Greenwald rightly called this the “Bill Maher Complex: thinking you are brave and subversive for mocking the most marginalized while reliably sycophantic to actual power”.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

CONDEMN OR BE DAMNED


WHAT TO DO WHEN AN ACT OF TERRORISM OCCURS?

When an act of terrorism occurs, we ordinary Muslims should rst and foremost start by acknowledging the innocent victims (both Muslims and non-Muslims alike) before touching on anything that has to do with politics, religion, resistance, war and revenge especially when innocent people are attacked and lives lost. Next, we should point out the real reason we speak up against any terror groups is simply because we are human beings like everyone else and not simply because we are Muslims. This is an important step.

Just as importantly, we need to make clear Muslims have a right to mourn their fellow Muslim and non-Muslim citizens without needing to apologise for fringe members of their faith who commit acts of violence and who ignorantly call themselves Muslims.

While at it, we should also ask ourselves and each other – why we Muslims feel compelled to defend Islam every time someone does something that has no basis in the Qur’an and Hadith (narrated sayings and actions of Muhammad – PBUH)? Worse still, why are Muslims the world over unfairly put in the dock or why are all Muslims always presumed to be heinous, whenever someone with a Muslim name commits an act of violence?

WHY DON’T MUSLIM LEADERS CONDEMN  TERROR?

In 2014, a leading Islamic group, penned by 120 Muslim scholars countersigned an open letter to ISIS that meticulously deconstructed the group’s theology. This was not, the first nor this is likely to be the last. Multiple Fatwas have been declared against extremism and spiritual jihads announced against terrorism and yet every time ISIS, Al-Qaeda or any of their incestuous cousins commit an act of violence in the name of Islam or ordinary Muslims, a tragically familiar refrain arises: Where is the condemnation from the Muslim world?

Despite an avalanche of condemnations from the upper echelons of the world leading Islamic figures, leaders and scholars after every single terrorist attack including the Paris attacks, Boston marathon bombing, Boko Haram kidnappings, Charlie Hebdo shootings, Orlando shootings, the entire Muslim community continues to be the scapegoat for the actions of individuals and groups that commit morally repugnant acts – all in the name of Islam.

In fact, 19-year old Hera Hashemi, student at the University of Colorado decided to put the notion to the test in November 2016. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11. “I wanted to show people how weak the argument [that Muslims don’t care about terror- ism] is,” she explained. Her stats struck a chord. Within 24 hours, Hashmi’s tweet had been retweeted 15,000 times. A couple of her followers volunteered to help her turn her spreadsheet into an interactive website and, within a week of the tweet, muslimscondemn.com was born. (Source: The 712-page Google Doc that proves Muslims do condemn terrorism, Arwa Mahdawi, 26 March 2017, The Guardian)

Yet, why is the media not giving due coverage to public denouncements and series of formal condemnations by leading Muslim figures that the very same media so vehemently demands, we ordinary Muslims often wonder? Why are these important voices being drowned out by the very same people who keep making the call for them to speak up? And why is the public still deliberately misinformed with the same xenophobic implications about Islam and ordinary Muslims – time and again?

In the words of Yamine Hafiz: “The implication is that every Muslim in the world who doesn’t engage in terrorism is nevertheless a latent supporter, or enabler, of terrorism because he doesn’t make [continuous] loud proclamations against”. (Source: Muslims Condemning Things: Tumblr answers a question that should be obvious on 20 Aug 2014 by Yasmine Hafiz, Huffington Post)

WHY DON’T ORDINARY MUSLIMS CONDEMN TERROR ATTACKS?

Never mind how ordinary Buddhists are never expected to condemn the extremist diatribes and tirades of the “Buddhist Bin Laden” Ashin Wirathu or Christians are never repeatedly asked to condemn the crimes against humanity by Timothy McVeigh or Anders Breivik. Even moderate Jews are never repeatedly asked to denounce the long ago Baruch Goldstein’s killings or the IDF for its almost never ending, extra-judicial killings or incursions by the illegal settlers in West Bank, Israel. The average atheists are also never asked to denounce the actions of deranged killers like Craig Stephen Hicks. Yet, the giant perpetual spotlight has always been on Islam and ordinary Muslims. Why?

Since 9/11, Muslims by default are instantaneously asked to condemn acts of terrorism as if all Muslims are evenly responsible, often times well before the smoke clears while leaders have failed to demand similar levels of all round condemnation when ordinary Muslims are verbally or physically attacked in Europe and America, all in the name of freedom of expression. Respect it appears is a one-way street. That the vast majority of Muslims are as peaceable as the vast majority of Christians is of no matter.

“Anyone who keeps saying that we need to hear the moderate voice of Islam – why aren’t Muslims denouncing these violent attacks doesn’t own Google . . . The voice of condemnation is deafening and if you don’t hear it you’re not listening”. Reza Azlan, (Source: Anyone Who asks why Muslims aren’t denouncing attacks “Doesn’t Own Google, January 11, 2015, Media Matters for America)

“It’s true that every Muslim leader in Britain has denounced them several times, but that’s hardly sufficient. They might denounce them at five past three, and then again at twenty past three, but what are they doing in between? For all we know they’re blowing themselves up at bus garages . . . So to truly distance themselves from the shooting, every Muslim should have to draw their own satirical cartoon involving Muhammad trampolining on a pig, so we know we can trust them . . . This is a fair point, because it’s hard to think of a single newspaper that at any time has ever said anything critical about Islam, isn’t it?.” Mark Steel, Columnist, The Independent (Source: January 8, 2015, Charlie Hebdo: Norway’s Christians didn’t have to apologise for Anders Breivik, and it’s the same for Muslims now, The Independent)

IF MUSLIMS ARE CONDEMNING VIOLENCE, WHY CAN’T WE HEAR THEM?

When virulent, unsubstantiated however brief statements are posted online by individuals and groups who claim to be Muslims, all the expert analysis emerges in the form of 24/7 media coverage lasting weeks or month at a time, asking: “Why are Muslims not condemning terrorism?”. On the other hand, when detailed statements are made by regional leaders and scholars let alone ordinary Muslims condemning violence, it is deemed non-newsworthy. Why is that?

“It appears major media and critics can in fact hear Muslims scream but only when they scream threats and vitriol. Words and acts of altruism, compassion, love, tolerance, and pluralism fall on deaf ears”. (Source: Why Won’t Major Media Report on Muslims Combatting Terrorism on 17 November 2014 by Qasim Rashid, The Huffington Post)

Put another way,

the vast majority of Muslims can’t help but wonder why is the killing of innocent civilians by less than 0.03 percent of people claiming to be Muslims only newsworthy but if the vast majority of Muslims (99.97 percent) pledge peace, nobody cares to report the same?

How can anyone possibly believe that small groups of terrorists accurately represent Islam or ordinary Muslims worldwide? In the words of Saman Shad, an Australian Muslim who wrote for the Independent UK in September 2012:

“We aren’t fanatics and we don’t issue death threats over YouTube clips – which is why we don’t get the airtime”. (Source: Say g’day to Australia’s other Muslims, 18 September 2012, Saman Shad, The Independent)

SHOULD MUSLIM LEADERS STOP CONDEMNING VIOLENCE THEN?

The standard protocol today of first calling on every single Muslim religious leader, activist, public intellectual and interfaith speaker to take a “clear and courageous stance”, “loudly and explicitly denounce terrorism” and “condemn unspeakable criminal acts” by terrorists or suicide bombers every time an individual or group does something horrendous in the name of Islam dragging its name through the mud – no doubt needs to be thoroughly reconsidered. The endless cycle of demanding Muslim communities – “to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject acts of terrorism” as if this has even an iota/atomic portion to do with Islam or any ordinary Muslim also needs to be thoroughly thought-through once again.

“This expectation for Muslims to keep speaking out is nothing short of Islamophobic. It assumes that Islam is, at its core, evil. It also upholds the view that Muslims can be essentialised as a monolithic whole”. (Source: Why #illridewithyou is an ill ride by Nazry Bahrawi, on 17 Dec 2014, Aljazeera.com)

Put another way, the current knee-jerk reaction by Islamic leaders to decry faraway atrocities that are grossly disconnected to Islam, needs to stop for what is probably the most important reason: “Above and beyond these endless series of condemnation and apologies, there is now growing weariness among ordinary Muslims around the world who find it severely draining and disempowering about having to apologise for the actions of extremists who claim to represent Islam, a religion with over 1.6 billion followers worldwide – when this has nothing to do with Islam or ordinary Muslims but misguided foreign policies, politics, oil & gas, war and history – among some of many complex underlying factors that in influence terrorism today.

In fact, during the 2010 Chilcot enquiry, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director General of M15 from 2002 to 2007, confirmed unequivocally that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to a “substantial” increase in the threat of terrorism in Britain. Our involvement in the Iraq war had a direct impact on the number of threats, and forced the security service to request that their budget be doubled. (Source: Former MI5 chief delivers damning verdict on Iraq invasion, Richard Norton-Taylor, 20 July 2010, The Guardian)

Therefore, the fact that Muslims condemn these acts in front of a bank of cameras as often as we do, creates a dangerous confirmation bias, reinforcing the false, common stereotype that there is a relation- ship however weak, between Islam and violence when the whole point of condemning these acts should also be for the sake of clarifying how these acts have nothing to do with Islam or ordinary Muslims.

Given how this is having the opposite effect, Muslim leaders and Muslim advocacy groups ought to explore other alternatives every time an individual commits an act of terror in the name of Islam or while invoking the name of Allah, since at present we are applying a bandaid nowhere near the expanding wound that matters.

“I just want to know why I have to get down on bended knee and ask for forgiveness from the entire western world . . . every time some asshole who has twisted my religion commits an act of violence, but whenever some delusional, white, gun toting religious fundamentalist shoots up a Planned Parenthood or a black church in South Carolina, it’s immediately labeled the act of a lone wolf or someone clearly not indicative of Christianity as a whole? . . . that kind of “built-in double standard” is why “this country still has a wink-wink and not approach to the Ku Klux Klan” but why Islamic Americans “have to be put through sixteen levels of screening” when traveling . . . And the fact is that since that day far, far more Americans have been killed in domestic mass shooting events than have been killed in Islamic terrorist attacks. So why do they insist,” she asked rhetorically, “on demanding that I apologize for the Paris attacks and specifically condemn those psycho- paths, but they get to just put their hands up and slide-step six paces to the right away from this Planned Parenthood shooter?” Anika Kaber a resident of Colorado (Source: Moderate Muslim: Where Are All The Moderate White Christians Denouncing Planned Parenthood Shooting?, 28 Nov 2015, Political Garbage Chute)

“There is an argument that in condemning these acts we are admitting that it is done on behalf of Islam, that we are responsible and we are attaching guilt and shame to ourselves and Islam. There is an argument that the West has much more to apologize for its acts of genocide and war in the Middle East and other places. There’s an argument that in expecting Muslims to apologize, we are subjugated by the West and held in a catch-22 scenario of having to apologize, even though these acts have nothing to do with our religion . . . I simply condemn these acts out of my Islamic religious convictions, which teach me that I should speak out against injustice. All forms of injustice, and that I do. There’s a certain pain that I feel when I watch as my religion is being run through the ground by loud ruthless voices who take all the head- lines. If I’m able to counter that, by my actions before my words, I will always do it”. Mona Shadia, Award-winning Egyptian American journalist and writer (Source: Not in My name, January 8, 2015, Huffington Post)

“We should treat people like the Charlie Hebdo attackers as what they are: monsters who kill both for the simple sake of killing and to provoke exactly the sort of religious conflict that mosque-attackers are indulging. And we should treat Muslims as what they are: normal people who of course reject terrorism, rather than as a lesser form of humanity that is expected to denounce violence every time it happens”. (Source: Max Fisher, in an article he originally wrote after the Sydney siege but updated in the event of the Charlie Hebdo killings, Vox)

On the other hand, it may be worth citing a counter-argument. Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Shadia said: “Muslims who feel they must condemn these actions, not to please anyone but to remain proactive and in charge of our destiny”. (Source: Not In My Name by Mona Shadia, 10 March 2015, Huffington Post)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

ANTI-IMMIGRANT CITIZENS OF THE WEST

THE 2014 SYDNEY SIEGE WAS ALL ABOUT ISLAMIC TERRORISM.

What do the actions of a widely acknowledged mentally ill patient with a history of certified mental illness who, had a Muslim name have to do with Islam and why are crimes committed by people of other back- ground rarely if ever, linked to their faiths?

When an individual with a Muslim name is responsible for 2-3 deaths, it is mislabeled as “Islamic terrorism” but when a white American goes on a shooting spree killing 6 people at around the same time in a different time zone, he is called “gunman on the loose”.

During the Sydney siege [in Australia], a shooting spree incident unfolded in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA that left 6 dead . . . International media agencies described the perpetrator, the now-deceased Bradley William Stone, simply as “a suspect”, “a gunman on the loose” and even “a Montgomery man”. No hashtag campaign was necessary to assure white people that the rest of the world will ride with them to keep them safe . . . The same can be observed of the reaction to the mass killings committed by the Norwegian Anders Breivik in 2011. While Breivik had claimed himself a baptised Christian in his 1,500-page manifesto, the world did not expect Christians to condemn terrorism in the same way Muslims had. (Source: Why #illridewithyou is an ill ride by Nazry Bahrawi on 18 Dec 2014, Aljazeera.com)

As it turns out the next day, this “suspect” or “gunman on the loose” was an ex-Marine, Iraq War veteran: An Iraq War veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives in a shooting and slashing frenzy was found dead of self-inflicted stab wounds Tuesday in the woods of suburban Philadelphia, ending a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed schools and left people on edge . . . Suspected gunman Bradley William Stone, 35, smashed through a glass door at his ex-wife’s apartment . . . before ring multiple shots and killing her. He then fled with their two children . . . to the two nearby communities of Lansdale and Souderton, where he killed five people and severely injured one more. (Source: Ex-Marine wanted in 6 killings commits suicide by Kathy Matheson and Sean Carlin on 16 December 2014, Associated Press)

Just over two years later in January 2017, a 26-year-old man drove his car into a crowded Melbourne street, killing ve people including a child. Travelling around an intersection then speeding down a footpath on Bourke Street, smashing through pedestrians, another 15 people were injured, with four in critical condition, including an infant. Dimitrious Gargasoulas, a Greek Christian, had a history of mental health and drug abuse and was in fact arrested by police the weekend before when he assaulted members of his family.

Yet despite the terrifying ordeal for those on the street at the time, there was no mention of the word “terror” in any of the news report when he was no more mentally disturbed than Monis, who was responsible for two deaths including one ricochet police bullet that was meant for Monis but killed a hostage instead. Why can’t the same standard be applied to all forms of violence instead of pointing the finger at Muslims and Islam every time an individual with a Muslim name is involved in an act of violence?

Lastly as a relatively recent example in July 2017, a masked catholic gunman burst into a high-end casino with an M4 automatic assault rifle and set re to a gaming room in Manila, Philippines, leading to the deaths of 36 people who died from inhaling smoke. Lo and behold the authorities insisted it was not a terrorist attack although one can’t imagine if this was any less terrifying that what is often labeled a terrorist attack, skewing the perception further that any violent act undertaken by a Muslim (regardless of mental health) is always about terrorism.

BUT ASYLUM SEEKERS LIKE MONIS FROM THE SYDNEY SIEGE IN DECEMBER 2014 WERE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS, HAD GONE ON GOVERNMENT WELFARE FOR YEARS, ONLY TO HAVE THEM KILL HIS OWN FELLOW CITIZENS. ORDINARY CITIZENS CAN’T BE BLAMED FOR WANTING TO HALT IMMIGRATION.

Is it logical to look at the one person who was a certified psychiatric patient seeking counseling who committed an act of violence and ignore the hundreds of thousand of people whose lives countries like Australia has transformed by admitting them as citizens giving them a life that would have been impossible elsewhere? While a number of them may be criminals or living in impoverished neighbourhoods, crime does not have a skin colour or race.

Unless of course what is being said is that every one of those asylum seekers is a criminal today and no white American, white European, white Australian or white Canadian is in prison today or that there is no such thing as a violence prone white person and that white Aussies are all white collar professionals? The issue isn’t about an asylum seeker gone rogue but a mentally disturbed citizen whose case was being looked after or in this case, neglected by the Australia healthcare system let alone, the much-touted taxpayer funded, billion dollar state-interventionist police surveillance in the Western world. Yet despite all the fancy software and hardware, the Australian government failed to prevent the horrible incident.

IF THE SYDNEY SIEGE DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM, WHY
 BRING AN ISIS FLAG AND STICK IT UP IN THE WINDOW AND KILL PEOPLE IN THE NAME OF ALLAH?

There was nothing normal about the delusional Monis. Dressed as an Iranian cleric, he was a Shia and initially held up the ISIS (self-professed Sunni group) flag upside down at the cafe. To understand the Middle East, you need to understand how politically sectarian (Sunni versus Shia) the conflict has become today. Put another way, the fighting is in essence a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, not only was Monis deviating from Islam but clearly the group (ISIS) he was claiming to support was massacring Shias by the hundreds at the time of the incident so to say he was confused is to say the least about the state of his psychotic mind.

Last but not least and just because a certified mental case invokes the name of Allah or misquotes from the Qur’an while committing an act of violence does not make it Islam’s fault unless you believe a pedophile priest having sex with a choir boy while exclaiming “oh my god” makes it the fault of Christianity or a bank robber who wears a George W Bush mask while robbing a bank makes it the fault of the President of the United States. 

ASYLUM SEEKERS, REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS ARE BIG THREATS
TO WESTERN DEMOCRACIES. ALSO, WHATEVER IS HAPPENING IN THE MIDDLE EAST DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST.

The following article written by a journalist at the Independent, who scored a bull’s eye on why “we” can’t afford to abandon asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants after being responsible for all the pillaging over the last century, says it best:

After years of ferocious migrant-bashing, the national psyche has been successfully reprogrammed: millions of our citizens truly believe that humans from the old Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and the Middle East are flocking to get at those gorgeous council flats and big, fat, state handouts. So easy isn’t it? Just blame those who can’t answer back. Don’t think too deeply about why there is this movement of peoples and how they feel before, during and after they leave their homelands. Fear is a terrible thing. It depletes compassion . . .

In 2011, David Cameron, on a visit to Pakistan, accepted that Britain was responsible for many of the world’s intractable problems. It was the first and only time I recall a British leader accepting that colonialism left fractures and stains, which have led to discord and failed states. (Margaret Thatcher, as well as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, extolled the Empire and the subjugation of millions.) . . . No, you can’t just blame white people for post-colonial chaos and failures. Since independence, leaders have almost all been incompetent, corrupt and callous . . . Dictatorships and one-party rule, profligacy and greed, have despoiled potentially productive nations, turning them into hopeless, dependent, unsustainable entities. But the case against old European imperialists is strong and indubitable . . .

Then there is the continuing support this country gives to oppressive regimes, the arms we sell, and the wars we have launched in the past 20 years. Iraqis never chose to become resented refugees, nor did Afghans. Libya is now the export depot for hungry, frightened, distressed people. The allies who bombed the place have gone and feel no obligation for the mess they left. Many Isis insurgents are from Saddam Hussein’s old Baathist army. True, we did not intervene in Syria, but for decades Bashar al-Assad was propped up by us, as was his equally heinous father.

Many of the migrants trying to get into Europe come from these places. They are hated perhaps because they remind us of our bad policies and actions. Are these then our noble British values? . . . The EU, IMF and World Bank must transform the system; our leaders need to tell more truths about the dispossessed. Xenophobia, withdrawal of welfare and gunboats won’t stop the tide of humanity coming to our shores. They come because they have no choice. But the West does. (Source: Don’t blame migrants – the West helped to create their plight by Yasmin Alibhai Brown on 24 May 2015, The Independent)

From the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a Jew who was mugged when everyone else left him by the wayside to the woman at the well who used her pitcher to give a thirsty Christ (PBUH) water (that is, woman stopped to help this stranger), the Bible too, has teachings that should not be sidelined. In an excerpt from a notable Christian in the UK and a true believer in Gospel values who had a highly respect- able position on refugees, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker in April 2015 said: Britain has a moral imperative to accept refugees from conflicts in which it has participated. After a week in which the death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe grew to 1,700 so far this year, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said there was a duty to treat the survivors with compassion. In a piece for the Observer published online, he writes: “They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities. A political rhetoric that characterises them as willful criminals rather than helpless victims is as unworthy as it is untrue.” The UK’s pivotal role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq prompted a sectarian war that the UN said had forced two million Iraqis to flee the country, an involvement that ran alongside the 13-year Afghanistan war and was followed by the 2011 attacks on Libya, both of which precipitated significant regional instability and migration. Walker writes: “The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land. (Source: Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars on 25 April 2015, Mark Townsend, The Guardian)

IMMIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM WAR-TORN COUNTRIES ARE NOT EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY.

The seeds of intolerance to the influx of Muslim immigrants were planted, if not reinforced well over a decade ago. Europe’s pivotal role in the 2003 illegal Iraq invasion led to a sectarian war that forced at least two million Iraqis to flee the country (and directly created conditions that led to the birth of ISIS). The 2001 “War on Terror” in Afghanistan did no less in producing its own population of displaced people. Europe’s beleaguered role in the 2011 attacks on Libya created yet another dimension of regional instability and cross-regional migration, while the dictatorships of both Bashar al-Assad and his father, long propped up for decades by US and European countries created another millions of refugees that are today approaching the shores of Europe. Nonetheless, the majority of terror victims . . . possibly as high as 95 percent, are themselves Muslims. It is no wonder, then, that Muslims make up a huge part of refugee crisis, which has seen 6 million Syrians, half of them children, fleeing the civil war; 100,000 Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State, among many other desperate people, risking their lives to escape the turmoil of the Middle East. (Source: Together, we can conquer Isis’s savage worldview by Deeyah Khan, 22 November 2015, The Guardian)

The fact that Europe competes with America in selling weapons to oppressive regimes and the weapons used in those regional conflicts created floods of legitimate, frightened let alone distressed refugees fleeing the dreadful combination of indiscriminate attacks in the form of barrel bombs, beheadings, suffocating sieges and abhorrent atrocities by ISIS is not likely to be mentioned either when a populist party with a strongly anti-immigration agenda [targeting a blue-collar and provincial middle-class] electorate tries to win the next round of local or regional elections in Europe. For instance, French arms sales to countries in the region [Africa and the Middle East, for example] neither take into account their human rights record nor the fact that those countries contribute to the war. (Source: Don’t let ISIL divide France by Alan Gresh, 15 Nov 2015, Aljazeera.com)

STILL, A SIMPLE PARTIAL SOLUTION TO TERRORISM MAY BE TO BAN MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS.

When times were good, lets open the door to immigrants and let them take up all the menial jobs, as we are or were too good for these jobs. Their children are brought up and educated in our countries, pay taxes and speak the local language better than their immigrant parents and yet they are never one of us but following the decline of the manufacturing industry and the growing urgency for austerity, we suddenly feel they ought to “go back home” as they are not as white as the indigenous population are or suddenly, have not assimilated as well as they should.

Also, in almost every case of a major terror attack since 9/11, the perpetrator has either been an American or European born and bred or someone who was already living in the country legally.

Therefore, why do right-wing xenophobic politicians like “Dutch Trump” Geert Wilders and the wretched lady Le Pen point their finger at refugees every time an act of terrorism occurs when an overwhelming majority of the suicide bombers who struck Paris in 2015 were French nationals?

Even the 9/11 terrorists were not refugees. They entered the U.S. by obtaining tourist and student visas, which are far easier to get than going through the arduous procedures involved in asylum seeking.

MUSLIMS DON’T CONTRIBUTE, INTEGRATE AND ASSIMILIATE INTO WESTERN SOCIETY SUCH AS IN FRANCE OR THE UNITED STATES.

“There are several million Muslims in France, and the vast majority are integrated into French society and for those who aren’t, it’s less a question of religion than their social and economic situation”. (Source: Claude Dargent, Professor at Sciences Po University in Paris)

In the astute words of Felix Marquardt, a Parisian Muslim and cofounder of the al-Kawakibi Foundation:

“Being Muslim in France is not easy, it’s a complicated condition especially if you are a woman wearing a veil, you are a victim of discrimination and if you’re a man [with a Muslim name or beard] you find it hard to get a job”. (Source: France likely to close more than 100 mosques by Anealla Safdar, 3 December 2015, Aljazeera.com)

 In Britain, Masuma Rahim, a clinical psychologist says its best: For too long, Muslims have been cast as a risk to public safety and security. We have been vilified by politicians and the popular press; we have been described as “terrorist sympathisers” and accused of being unwilling to integrate into British society. But what those accusers fail to understand is that it is difficult to integrate into any society if you’re permanently being cast as a threat to the world around you, and if the solution to that threat – a “final solution”, as Katie Hopkins might term it – is for your places of worship to be monitored and your schools to be investigated on the most spurious of charges. (Source: Dear Theresa May, come and meet some Muslims. It might help if you knew us, 20 June 2017, Masuma Rahim, The Guardian)

Therefore, this persistent idea that Muslims are not assimilating is clearly not true. Surveys by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Pew Research Center suggest that the attitudes of U.S. Muslims about country and community are similar to those of adherents of other religions.

A Pew poll several years ago found that Muslims, more than 3-to-1, preferred to adopt American customs rather than retain their distinct identities. (Source: U.S. Muslims Are the Collateral Victims of Terror Attacks, Albert Hunt, 19 June 2016, Bloomberg)

Muslims have also made contributions to society in many ways ranging from engineering, culinary, fashion, finance and banking, medical and sciences. While “there are many challenges including illiteracy, sectarianism and identity crises, these problems are not that much different from other communities around the world”, according to Muhammad Akhter, a doctor in Essex in a blog written for Muslim matters. (Source: What is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today?, 9 July 2014, Muslim Matters)

Working as educators, mayors, judges, lawmakers, athletes, soldiers and members of Congress, Muslim Americans constitute 1-2 percent of the population but account for about 5 percent of the country’s physicians. (Source: It’s not just Trump – the US is gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria by Moustafa Bayoumi, 14 December 2015, The Guardian)

This despite the fact that a large proportion of Muslim doctors face discrimination on a regular basis (Note: There are over 15,000 Pakistani- American physicians in America alone). In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Bioethics found that 24 percent of Muslim physicians have experienced religious discrimination in the workplace. (Source: I Thought My Ivy League Degrees Would Protect Me From Bigotry. I Was Wrong by Altaf Saadi, M.D., at Massachusetts General Hospital, 18 January 2016, Huffington Post)

Muslim Americans do not just live and work in the United States. They have given their lives too, to the country. Often overlooked in media reports, 60 Muslim innocent lives also perished at the World Trade Center. One of them was NYPD cadet and first responder, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died at the Twin Towers on 9/11. Then there are at least 14 Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after the 9/11 attacks.

Furthermore: A recent study by Duke University showed that Muslim Americans helped catch more terrorism suspects and perpetrators than the United States government itself. (Source: 10 Reasons You Should Not Fear Muslims by Omar Alnatour, 26 January 2016, Huffington Post)

In a separate 2011 study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, tips from Muslim American communities helped thwart terrorist plots in 52 of 140 cases involving Muslim Americans. This means that at least 37 percent of foiled domestic terror plots have been thwarted with the help of Muslim Americans. (Source: To Fight Terrorism, Treat Muslim-Americans With Respect by Tara Lai Quinlan and Deborah Ramirez, 8 December 2015, Huffington Post)

Therefore, there is no basis for claiming Muslims don’t integrate, contribute or assimilate into local societies in the West, at the very least no more than any other groups of immigrants in the West today.

THERE ARE NO BENEFITS TO WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS.

In an article written by Nadya Tolokonnikova, Russian member of the Pussy Riot band, rightly pointed out:  “Migrants are innovative and entrepreneurial. In the 19th century, a third of the population of Sweden, Ireland and Italy emigrated to America and other countries. The U.S. is the very best example of how dynamic a country of immigrants can be . . . (Source: I Live Without Borders, Nadya Tolokonnikova, 22 October 215, The Huffington Post)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS WANT TO KILL ALL NON-MUSLIMS

THE WEST BELIEVES IN PEACE WHILE MUSLIMS LOVE VIOLENCE.

In comments on HBO’s Real Time, [Bill] Maher in 2015 said: “For the last 30 years, it’s been one culture that has been blowing s—t up over and over again”. (Here he meant Islam, not America, go figure.) (Source: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bill Maher? By Mike Mennonno, 23 Sept 2015, The Huffington Post)

Serving as another example of grandiose malarkey: While demagogues like Pam Geller likes to say “Civilized men can disagree while savages will kill you when they disagree” (Source: Texas shooting: Who is Pamela Geller? By Ann Colwell, 4 May 2015, CNN), is she talking about Western nations who have been responsible for far more civilian deaths than all terrorists groups combined claiming to be Muslims?

BUT MUSLIMS HATE NON-MUSLIMS AND WILL NOT MISS A CHANCE TO KILL THEM.

In December 21 2015, a group of men from al-Shabab halted a bus near the town of Mandera, Kenya. They ordered all the passengers off the bus before telling them to split into groups of Muslims and non- Muslims so that they could set aside the Christian passengers for execution. The Muslims on board refused their demands. Instead, they threw a human shield around the Christians. Brave Muslim women took o their headscarves and handed them to non-Muslims to wear for protection. Standing united, the Muslim passengers then dared the extremists to kill them too. Instead, fearing repercussion from a nearby village, these misguided zealots ed the scene of the hold-up, licking their wounds from the powerful show of solidarity, people of the world today could learn aplenty from. (Source: Muslims in Kenya offer a Christmas present to the world, 27 Dec 2015, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim & Beth Ellen Cole Al Jazeera.com)

This is not a rare event and happens more frequently than is reported by the mainstream press. In July 2017, a Filipino Muslim in the Philippines saved 64 Christians from execution by Islamist militants, after he hid them from a group of heavily armed gunmen who stormed the city of Marawi on the island in June 2017. Norodin Alonto Lucman, a Muslim former politician and traditional clan leader, opened his home to around 71 people, including 64 Christians, when they could not escape. These are two of many recent examples reported by the press.

WHY THEN DO MUSLIMS CELEBRATE 9/11?

Muslims do not celebrate 9/11. There is no evidence of this at all. While the vast majority of Muslims around the world were horrified by the scenes of the falling towers, there were no doubt pockets of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world who could not help but wonder:

How 19 random men have finally brought the horror and destruction that the West brought into Muslim lands over the last few decades in the form of illegal invasion and carpet bombing of Iraq, dishonest brokering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support of Arab dictatorships and many other such examples that have been exhaustively covered by renowned writers such as Robert Fisk, Phil Rees, Jessica Stern and Amira Hass among many others.

Similarly it could be argued, there are pockets of people in the West who don’t exactly mourn when Muslims are killed in conflicts far from the West. Some even cheer the killings of Muslims by the American Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. In fact, you will find YouTube videos of American soldiers cheering the death of Iraqis and Afghanis (lest we forget, two Muslim countries that had nothing to do with 9/11).

These cheerleaders of Muslim casualties or American soldiers who kill indiscriminately however do not represent America or Western values the way Muslims who cheer death and destruction in the West do not represent 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. People with varying levels of moral values exist everywhere.

ALL MUSLIMS, YOUNG AND OLD ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR STANDING UP AGAINST TERRORISM TODAY.

When the towers fell, millions of children who are Muslim teenagers today weren’t even born then. How are they at fault and why do they have to put up with bigotry, hatred and Islamophobia so common- place today? For some Muslims and non-Muslims alike, they are growing up with an incomplete understanding of a series of events that led to 9/11. For some it was day 1 since the world changed. To a minority within this group, most parents will find it hard yet important to explain how a series of misguided foreign policies of the West nurtured the seeds of hatred and anger in Muslim world and led a small fringe of individuals with Muslim names, who do not represent Islam or ordinary Muslims, to commit an act of terror that changed the world forever. Is it therefore, fair to expect Muslim teenagers who weren’t even born on 9/11 to defend themselves against common- place anti-Muslim bigotry today, a position of attack they did not start nor were they any part of ?

Why do 1.6 billion Muslims around the world have to pay for the misguided actions of 19 individuals with Muslim names when there is zero evidence their actions had anything to do with Islam? Instead, all readings indicate their act was a violent form of political protest that led to the deaths of almost 3000 innocent lives including 60 Muslims who died on that day too. (Source: Muslims Weren’t Cheering On 9/11, Mr. Trump. They Were Grieving For Their Loved Ones by Christopher Mathias, 24 Nov 2015, Huffington Post)

“Conflating extremists who claim to be Muslims with the vast, un-extreme majority of Muslims worldwide perpetuating the assumption that extremism is the default, that Muslims share inherent traits that make them worse than others who are not Muslims, and that all Muslims are guilty of extremism until proven innocent . . .” (Source: Its not just Bill Maher: Islamophobia on cable news is out of control, Max Fisher, 8 Oct 2014,Vox.com)

MUSLIMS ENVY THE DEMOCRATIC VALUES OF THE UNITED STATES.

Never mind that the “values” of the United States includes supporting corrupt and brutal dictatorships and occupations, launching wars of aggression based on lies, violating its own constitutional principles to detain indefinitely, torture and even murder of suspected enemies (including its own citizens). Or that a small but politically powerful percentage of American citizens seem as determined to incite violence in the Muslim world as their counterparts there seem determined to launch violence against Westerners. (Source: Why ‘they’ still don’t hate us by Mark LeVine, on 27 September 2012, The Independent)

BUT SURELY, ISLAM IS AGAINST DEMOCRACY.

To illustrate Islam’s support for a democratic government, verse 4:59 of the Qur’an clearly outlines the people must take their vote as a responsibility and thus choose the most appropriate and suitable person to lead them. The Qur’an then exhorts those in authority to exercise justice . . . The Qur’an also promotes dialogue and consultation to gauge public opinion and decide matters fairly as illustrated in 42:39. In 4:60, it requires Muslims to “obey those in authority among them” (4:60) . . . Therefore if dictators in the Middle East [supported by Western governments and powerful Arab tribes] or radical Muslim preachers oppose the teachings of Muhammad (PBUH), then they’re solely to blame. (Source: The truth about whether Islamic values are compatible with Western values, Atif Rashid, 17 July 2016, The Independent)

Islam therefore can’t be blamed given its stance on freedom or human rights, something it started to espouse and establish long before Western democracies caught up just over a hundred years ago. How is it fair to blame Islam if the rulers, autocrats and dictators in the Middle East (read: “puppets fully supported by the West”) do not want to abide by the laws of Islam?

AT THE VERY LEAST UNLIKE THE MIDDLE EAST, ALL LIVES ARE VALUED EQUALLY IN THE WEST.

In an observant article, Jewish Rabbi Michael Lerner points out the double standards of the West:

“When the horrific assassinations of 12 media people and the wounding of another 12 media workers resulted in justifiable outrage around the world, did you ever wonder why there wasn’t an equal outrage at the tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed by the American intervention in Iraq or the over a million civilians killed by the U.S. in Vietnam,…

or why President Obama refused to bring to justice the CIA torturers of mostly Muslim prisoners, thereby de facto giving future torturers the message that they need not even be sorry for their deeds. (Source: Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy by Rabbi Michael Lerner, 11 March 2015, Tikkun Magazine)

In a separate article, the author points out two rather uncomfortable questions worth reflecting on:

(1) Why are our thoughts with the victims of the horrific attacks but not with those who suffer serious verbal and physical discrimination as a result of the actions of a few psychopaths who call themselves Muslims?; &

(2) Why is there an outpouring of sympathy for cartoonists whom we have crowned icons for free speech when a 42-year old maintenance worker was also killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks and two police officers including a Muslim officer Ahmed, who was first to arrive at the scene were also part of the final death toll? (Source: Charlie Hebdo: The 12 victims of the Paris shootings, 8 Jan 2015, Clear Barrett, Financial Times)

Last but not least, the following observation perhaps says it best: It is easy to separate wars in the Middle East with our own security in Europe and the United States. This way we the public, do not have to see what our disastrous foreign policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and beyond are doing and how our Western governments are creating the endless conditions for the rise of monstrous groups like ISIS and others, to which our homegrown lone wolves belong. (Source: How politicians duck the blame for terrorism, Patrick Cockburn, 20 March 2016, The Independent)

MUSLIMS CAN AT LEAST CHOOSE TO LIVE PEACEFUL, UNDISRUPTIVE LIVES IN THE WEST, UNLIKE PRESENT DAY MIDDLE EAST.

This depends on where you compare living in the West to:
“The fact of the matter is that the majority of Muslims like myself no longer know where to turn. The mentality of “with us or against us” remains at the forefront of both extremist ideologies. After all, both the Islamic State and religious reductionists are quick to point out comparative religious scholars like Karen Armstrong that emphasize peaceful texts as apologists for Islam.

As I received death threats from ISIS, I have also been flagged in international airports as a security threat . . . Both worlds – the secular and the extremist – are limiting my voice, mobility and access . . . I am not alone. The majority of Muslims – often described as simple-minded, indifferent, non-violent, but easily misled – are being targeted by reductionist thinkers at different ends of the spectrum.

They are attempting to strip away creative, new ways of thinking and force us to buy into a friend or enemy binary lens”. (Source: War on Islam Comes to Our Backyards by Manal Omar, October 9 2015, Huffington Post)

THERE IS NO REASON FOR MUSLIMS TO FEEL THREATENED IN AMERICA.

“There remains, among many Muslims, a sense of besiegement, and a growing frustration at perceived legal double standards. North Carolina authorities did not treat the February [2015] slaying of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill as motivated by bigotry. In July [2015], a judge permitted bail for a Tennessee man on trial for plotting to re- bomb a New York Muslim community”. (Source: For a teen aspiring to be president, being Muslim is a hurdle in post-9/11 America by Oliver Laughland in Dearborn, Michigan, and Spencer Ackerman in New York, The Guardian).

More recently in June 2017, a 17-year old teenage Muslim girl Nabra Hassanen, was grotesquely killed by Darwin Martinez Torres, a bat-wielding motorist who ran over and dumped her body in a pond near a Virginia mosque. Yet the crime was labelled “road rage” and not investigated as a hate crime, with the perpetrator facing no more than one count of second-degree murder, a gross miscarriage of justice that is slowly but steadily becoming a regrettable mainstay in the United States.

Furthermore, the fact that the Supreme court in July 2017 upheld parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0 [until it was again overturned in Oct 2017] and in doing so, legitimised blanket discrimination against a religious group has temporarily, enshrined a version of Islamophobia into practice, (Source: Trump doesn’t want Muslims in the US. That’s OK with the supreme court, Moustafa Bayoumi, 26 June 2017, The Guardian),with the U.S Customs and Border Protection happy to carry on its decades-long arbitrary “random profiling” of Muslims that for the rst time in U.S history is backed by a seal of approval from none other than the supreme court.

Therefore, why should Muslims not feel threatened? In fact in an excellent analogy, how would ordinary Americans have reacted if the tables had turn on the following incident?

“What would the news say if a bunch of Muslims – some dressed in camouflage showed up outside a church with automatic rifles and signs denouncing Christianity? When Christians do the same thing to a mosque in Texas, it elicits little more than a yawn, however (take a look at some of the photos [visit online accompanying this article] to see whether Muslim worshippers should have feared for their lives).” (Source: Christian Terrorism by Chris Weigant, 1 December 2015, Huffington Post)

MUSLIMS HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

To millions of patriotic, law-abiding Muslims men and women who serve as fire fighters, policemen, public officials, not to mention entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, lawyers and teachers born and bred in Europe and the United States as well as incoming immigrants and asylum seekers, it is important they fully understand the hypocritical right-wing polemics regularly seen on TV, online and in print is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity. Most importantly, this is not going away anytime soon.

Even if Trump had lost the election in November [2016], Islamophobia would not have slunk into the shadows but by winning, the repercussions for those fighting Islamophobia is likely to be devastatingly challenging given the loud, inherent message that it is okay to spew hatred and vitriol as a politician against Muslims for the sake of being elected, even if it means attacking an already vilified minority with zero accountability. His win has demonstrated how widespread anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming, especially among white Evangelicals Christians, moving up from fringe hate groups into mainstream political discourse and now, as the much dreaded official policy coming directly from the White House.

While there are some Muslims who continue to hold out hope that Trump may be more bluster than real threat, if the President of the United States is the very archetype and instigator of Islamophobia, then vilifying Muslims, scapegoating Islam, vandalising mosques and attacking anybody who looks Muslim is only fair game, blurring the line between the person on-the-ground torching mosques and politician supporting blanket surveillance of Muslims. Words by people in public office shape perceptions, which shape public policy, which often determines whether people live in peace or chaos. (Source: Donald Trump: The Islamophobia president by Khaled A Beydoun, Al Jazeera English, 9 November 2016)

Worse still, the existing cabinet members and advisers of the Trump administration have thus far been discussing the real threat of extremism with all the sophistication of a middle-school social-studies class. Therefore, the American dream will no doubt become a living night- mare for many minorities (not only Muslims) under Trump’s presidency. Muslims in America and around the world indeed have plenty to worry about.

AT LEAST MUSLIMS ARE SAFE IN THE WEST AND CAN PRACTISE THEIR FAITH FREELY.

In over a decade since 30 September 2005 when Flemming Rose, the Foreign Editor at Jyllands-Posten myopically commissioned drawings of Muhammad (PBUH), well over a thousand mosques (if not more) across the United States, Australia and continental Europe have experienced at least one incident of vandalism, easily devolving into a partial laundry list:

including graffiti painted over its walls, bacon or severed pig’s head hung on the door of prayer halls, feces and torn pages of the Qur’an thrown at the entrance, multiple gunshots, smoke bombs, Molotov cocktail and small explosive devices thrown within the mosque’s compound, re attack burning down mosques, armed demonstrators picketing at mosques, group of intimidating motorcyclists driving around in circles, threatening letters, bile-filled phone and online messages as well as threats of violence and many other varied forms of attempted arson.

Therefore, Muslims in the West have regrettably been given plenty of reasons to be frightened.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

“ISLAMIC” VIOLENCE OVER THE LAST 50-100 YEARS

WITH ALL KINDS OF ATTACKS HAPPENING IN THE WEST TODAY, HOW CAN ANYONE CLAIM MUSLIMS LOVE PEACE?

In an introspective article exposing the role of violence in Western history, with excerpts below, France’s pre-eminent 20th century philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte put it best in condemning his fellow French for their brutal rule in Algeria:

“First, the only violence is [ours]; but soon they will make it their own; that is to say, the same violence is thrown back upon us as when our reflection comes forward to meet us when we go towards a mirror . . . So by all means, let us blame Islam for the carnage done in its name. But let’s be honest about how much all of our most cherished ideals, identities and ideologies have contributed to the death and destruction piling up around us”. (Source: Go ahead, blame Islam by Mark LeVine, 15 November 2015, Aljazeera.com)

MUSLIMS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME OF THE WORST VIOLENCE OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS.

Since 1980, the U.S. has bombed, invaded or occupied at least 14 Islamic countries. Who invented and actually used the atomic bombs? Who invented and used the chemical bombs? Who launched illegal wars under the pretense of bringing freedom to a country? Who launched illegal wars under the disguise of WMDs and War on Terror? How about Catholic IRA bombing versus Protestants bombings? How about the destruction of black churches by white racists? In fact, who was behind the bloodiest wars that is, WWI & WWII in human history? Did Islam have anything to do with any of the above? (Source: Unknown)

Also, what about people with no religion who are just as much, if not more – guilty for crimes against humanity? Citing only a few brief examples, how about Pol Pot, Stalin, Chairman Mao, among others? Last but not least and given what a number of oil-producing Islamic countries are going through, further complicated by the failed Arab uprising disappointingly unsupported by the West; Western-led misdirected foreign policies that has led to several civil and sectarian conflicts under the pretense of the “War on Terror” – And yet even at its worst, violence by Muslims doesn’t compare with the horrific atrocities committed by the West’s global and colonial wars over the last hundred let alone fifty years.

BUT ISLAM IS A VIOLENT RELIGION AND THE MUSLIM WORLD MUST BEAR COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE RISE OF EXTREMISM.

Considering the wars waged by the Christian and secular West over the last 50 years killing millions of Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide in Africa, the Middle East let alone Central Asia, it is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle back to accuse Islam of violent tendencies. In fact, Raba K writing for Huffington Post neatly surmised the following points:

Individuals who seek to blame Islam for all that is wrong in history, the world, and anything in between [need to be asked] how through centuries of history, spanning the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, European Anti-Semitism [The expulsion of Jews from Christian Europe], the Cuban genocide, the American genocide of more than 100 million Native Indians, and the brutal British colonisation which stole the lives of more than 15 million Indians [as well as deaths that occurred in] the First World War, Second World War, nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (with a lasting impact to this very day), the British concentration camps of Africans and the enslavement of black Africans which resulted in the death of 158 million as well as the ethnic cleansing of Australia’s Aboriginals, Vietnamese being subjected to phosphorous gas by the US [during the Vietnam war in the 1970s], up to 200,000 killed in the Mexican Caste War of Yutucan, and millions of Russians by the hand of Stalin, etcetera, and yet not one of the above [more than a billion] corpses piled, involved the role of a Muslim or individual associated with Islam . . . (Source: How the Islamic State & The Mainstream media lies about Islam, 28 Oct 2014 by Rabah K, Huffington Post)

Given such, isn’t the secular atheist West or Christianity many times over more violent than Muslims collectively can ever be and whether each and every Christian or secularist today ought to apologise until he is on his dying bed for something well outside the pacifist teachings of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and Christianity?

BUT AT LEAST THE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS VIOLENT TOWARDS PEOPLE OF OTHER FAITHS.

A man of a Jewish and Irish background should know better about religiously motivated violence. Both Judaism and Christianity had their own violence-ridden dark ages and how the Old Testament in Christianity talks a lot more about violence, than the Qur’an does. The stoning of fornicators, blasphemers and the killing of homosexuals can all be found in the Old Testament. The Jewish Torah is not so different from the Old Testament either but this has no bearing over whether this makes a person following the Christian or Jewish faith any more violent than an atheist or agnostics could be. (Source: An Atheist’s (Somewhat) Relaxed View of the Qur’an on 1 Aug 2014 by Ronald Lindsay, President, Center for Inquiry)

Therefore let us all have a little sense of perspective. Muslims today are going through what it must have felt like being a Catholic in the 16th and 17th centuries. They too had “religious terrorists” who caused mayhem and bloodshed or in fact in some ways: “Muslims have become, at least in many ways, the new Jews [of the 19th century].They have become the scapegoats onto whom Europeans are projecting their anxieties about the future. Conservative and far- right politicians constantly intensify and exploit these anxieties in order to enhance neoliberal and nationalist agendas, while most liberal and left-wing parties have imitated the racist right, perhaps hoping it will bring them more votes.” (Source: On anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe on 5 June 2014 by Dr. Sara R Farris, Aljazeera.com)

STILL, THERE IS SOMETHING INHERENTLY VIOLENT ABOUT MUSLIMS AND ISLAM.

The imperialist West always try to dislocate the blame. It’s always the foreigner’s, the non-Westerner’s, the Other’s fault; it’s never the fault of the enlightened West . . . The West is incapable of addressing its own imperial violence. Instead, it points its blood-stained finger accusingly at the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims and tells them they are the inherently violent ones . . . This does not mean we should not mourn the Paris attacks; they are abominable, and the victims should and must be mourned. But we should likewise ensure that the victims of our governments’ crimes are mourned as well . . . If we truly believe that all lives are equally valuable, if we truly believe that French lives matter no more than any others, we must mourn all deaths equally . . . The West, in its addiction to militarism, played into the hands of the extremists, and today we see the rotten fruit borne of that rotten addiction: ISIS is the Frankenstein’s monster of Western imperialism. (Source: Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves by Ben Norton, 15 November 2015, Salon)

WHY THEN ARE MUSLIMS FIGHTING EVERYWHERE?

Not all of the world’s Muslims live in countries with civil war. In fact, most of them do not. Among the 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations, only three – Pakistan, Nigeria and Iraq – saw civil war in 2014. (That’s the last year for which the Uppsala Conflict Data Program has data.) . . . The other seven – including Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Egypt, four of the five countries with the world’s largest Muslim populations – haven’t faced civil war for a decade or more. They may not necessarily be peaceful – certainly countries such as India and Egypt have seen their share of turmoil that has turned violent at times – but that violence hasn’t been sufficiently severe to be defined as a civil war, an armed conflict with at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a calendar year . . . Over the past 15 years, several military interventions replaced relatively stable dictatorships with unstable semi-democracies where civil war still rages. The Arab Spring, which was at first a nonviolent popular uprising, wasn’t successful in toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, leading to the chaos and humanitarian disaster we see today. (Source: Are Muslim countries more violent? By Nils Petter Gleditsch and Ida Rudolfsen, May 16 2016, The Washington Post)

WHAT ABOUT VIETNAM THEN? THE COUNTRY WAS ATTACKED BUT THE VIETNAMESE DID NOT GO ON MURDER SPREES.

33,000 people were killed by Vietcong terrorism in South Vietnam in the 1950s, according to Carol Winkler, author of In the Name of Terrorism or how about the 80,000 people who died between 1954 and 1975 from Vietcong terrorism, according to Benjamin Valentino, author of Final Solutions: Mass Killings and the Genocide in the Twentieth Century? Surely, this classifies as a murder spree.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

HEAD-CHOPPING & SUICIDE BOMBINGS AMONG MUSLIMS

THERE WAS A MUSLIM WHO TOOK HIS 8-YEAR OLD SON TO SYRIA. HE CUTS OFF A PERSON’S HEAD AND POSTS A PICTURE OF HIS SON HOLDING THE CHOPPED HEAD WITH
A NOTE SAYING “PROUD OF MY SON . . .”. MUSLIMS ARE SO BARBARIC.

 This, among many other abhorring atrocities have been widely condemned by every Islamic leader, scholar and infinite number of ordinary Muslims worldwide and yet this does not excuse people from forming biased views against Muslims and Islam.

There are plenty of Christians, non-Christians or Atheist psychopaths out there who commit inhumane, psychopathic acts of violence but these are never associated with their faith or lack of it. Why?

Then there is the issue of drones and carpet bombings. A hundred times more innocent civilians (including children, aid workers and journalists) die in drone attacks and F16 bombs, in an absolutely grotesque and inhumane way (not only having their heads chopped o but limbs torn to bits) and yet where is the condemnation from ordinary citizens of the West for these barbaric acts of state terrorism regularly visited upon Muslim civilian population? Worse still, people ask, why are Muslims angry?

Therefore, 99.97 percent of the Muslim population cannot be held responsible for the actions of persons and groups representing 50,000 (maximum exaggerated estimate) who joined groups like ISIS (or whatever next they mutate into), accounting for less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population worldwide, killing innocent civilians, aid workers and journalists.

WHAT’S WITH THE HEAD-CHOPPING  FASCINATION AMONG MUSLIMS THEN?

During the Crusades, Christians used to catapult the severed heads of Muslim fighters over the walls of besieged towns, as a form of “threat display”. (Source: The slow-motion wreck of American values – Salon.com, 22 Sept 2004, Salon.com).Japanese soldiers training for action during the World War II were deliberately de-sensitised and shown how to decapitate living prisoners. (Source: Don’t underestimate Islamic State. More atrocities are on their way, 21 July 2016, Abdel Bari Atwan, The Guardian). In 2006, US soldier Steven Green, along with four colleagues gang-raped, then murdered 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in front of her parents and siblings (who were then also killed), and said this at his trial: “I didn’t think of Iraqis as human”. The key singular tactic appears to be dehumanizing “the other” so that you are completely “desensitised” from an act of violence. (Source: Former US soldier guilty of rape found hanged – Al Jazeera English, Feb 18, 2014, Aljazeera.com). Unfortunately, abhorring violence is not limited to any race, culture, background, belief system or skin colour, evidently.

WHY THEN ARE MUSLIMS RESPONSIBLE FOR SO MANY BEHEADINGS AND SUICIDE BOMBINGS?

Surely hellfire missiles fired from Predator drone attacks that blow body parts of innocent civilians, aid workers and journalists into small bits and pieces and the advanced weaponry used in carpet-bombing cities into ashes are infinitely more inhumane. These attacks kill far more civilians grotesquely than beheadings and suicide bombings combined, by many multiples over. Interestingly, neither form of killings originate from Muslim lands but from so-called “civilised” America and Europe.

BUT MUSLIMS PREFER SUICIDE BOMBINGS AS A WEAPON

It is wrong to behead people physically with a weapon like a [sword, machete or] a knife [and uploading it on YouTube] but how is that any different from blowing people’s heads [or limbs o with a remote controlled] drone [or a barrel bomb]? Is it less evil when [NATO- backed] militias are committing similar acts of horror [except they do everything possible to prevent these acts from being captured on video?] (Source: Arundhati Roy, Author and winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in an interview titled “Things That Can And Cannot Be Said” by John Cusack, 16 November 2015, Outlook India)

MUSLIM MARTYRS JUSTIFY SUICIDE BOMBINGS BY TAKING A LITERALIST APPROACH TO ISLAMIC SCRIPTURE.

Islam unequivocally condemns self-immolation (suicide) and there are no two sides to this argument. The Qur’an is crystal clear how people who take their own lives are guaranteed anything but heaven (sorry, no references in the Qur’an and Hadith about angels as servants, winged horse let alone 72 virgins).

Besides, suicide-led killings is a relatively recent phenomenon (over the last 75 years) and was never used during the time of Muhammad (PBUH) or for centuries thereafter, proving unequivocally how there is zero scope for suicide killings in Islam unlike individuals or groups with Muslim names who use this as a weapon, clearly misinformed about the very clear position of Islam and the Qur’an when it comes to suicide-led killings of themselves and others.

MUSLIMS WERE THE FIRST TO PIONEER SUICIDE BOMBINGS.

“Suicide bombing was almost unheard of in the Muslim world in the 1950s to the 1970s, even at the height of the revolutionary fervour of Arab nationalism and the disastrous defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel . . . It was the Shi’a of Lebanon who first began to successfully employ suicide bombings in Lebanon, with devastating effect against American targets that is, the US embassy and the US Marine barracks in the early 1980s. But it was the Hindu Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who were the first to operationalize regular use of the suicide vest in the 1980s, with one of the highest rates of suicide operations in that era . . . As the American forces discovered two decades later in Iraq, kidnapping and suicide attacks are simple, cheap tolls of combat that a superior military can find difficult to counter.” (Source: Graham E Fuller, Author, A World Without Islam)

 RELIGION IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF SUICIDE BOMBINGS.

If there is someone qualified to speak on the subject, it is Robert Pape, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. In Year 2005, he published a book “Dying to Win”, based on an extensive study of the causes of suicide terrorism: “Compiling a database of suicide attacks globally from the early 1980s to 2003. He found most attacks were secular and motivated by feelings of a lack of self-determination within the local community. “From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, every suicide terrorist campaign since 1980 had as its main goal to establish or maintain self-determination for territory that the terrorists prize. Religion is rarely the root cause although religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations to serve the broader strategic objective”. (Source: Robert Pape, Author, Dying to Win)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS SUPPORT ISIS


SIXTY-THREE (63) MILLION MUSLIMS BACK ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS).

A Pew Research poll titled “Views of ISIS overwhelmingly negative” available online published in November 17 2015 indicates the exact opposite of the “63 million” figure accomplices of hate and terrorism often like to misrepresent, stigmatizing a lot of Muslims worldwide as extremists.

The poll based on a sample size of no more than 1000 people per country in eleven Muslim countries or 11,000 Muslims in grand total (out of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide) were asked for their views of ISIS. The “63 million” magic number is derived by inversely applying the number of poll respondents who had a positive view of ISIS against the population of that given Muslim country, creating a twisted interpretation of the poll outcome.

Incidentally Fox News personality and anti-Muslim demagogue Sean Hannity made the same claim citing the same “63 million Muslims” number when this poll was published and was roundly condemned by Media Matters for America for spreading misinformation. Donald Trump too, made a similar claim in a CNN interview on March 9 and not for the first time mocked for his ignorance. Niall Ferguson (former husband of none other than Ayaan Hirsi Ali no less, who once said “We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot”. I think we are at war with Islam and there’s no middle ground in wars.”) too, has erroneously cited the same number in his writings, adding fuel to re the misinformation about Islam and Muslims, spreading like wild re today, thanks in large part to irresponsible reporting and near absent fact-checking by the press.

In fact for people who love big numbers, a true, verifiable number that may be worthwhile using is 61.9 million. The exact number of Americans who voted for Trump, arguably the most xenophobic, sexist and racist man alive today, illustrating where the actual problem of the world lies.

Also, in 1943, the Nazi party became a political force after Hitler’s Nazi Party received 43.9 percent of the votes. Should the 17 million Germans that supported the party therefore be implicated for the crimes of Hitler? Sixty years later – and just before the illegal Iraq invasion in 2003, 47-60 percent of the US public supported the war. Are 136 million Americans therefore responsible for the chaos that ensued since the epic mismanagement of Iraq, the direct loss of over 4 million lives since and the generational damage the West has wrecked in the Middle East today?

IF ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT PEACE, WHY DID SOME MUSLIMS LEAVE THE WEST TO JOIN GROUPS LIKE ISIS?

While there have been numerous reports of Muslims abandoning their lives in the West and migrating to cities controlled by ISIS, no one really quite understands why but to over-simplistically say this has to do with religion is to associate the barbaric actions of ISIS with that of religion, which are issues on two opposite ends of a very long pole. Nothing groups like ISIS have done thus far can be traced back to the teachings and actions of Muhammad (PBUH). In fact, their actions are in direct contradictions to his pacifist teachings.

However, if one truly wants to come close to understanding if this is representative of Islam or ordinary Muslims, the first step ought to be to understand the simple numbers involved.

We are talking about a very small number of no more than 50,000 (maximum exaggerated estimate) that have left for ISIS and other militant groups out of 1.6 billion Muslims so less than 0.03 percent of the global Muslim population.

It is hardly fair to broad-brush 1.6 billion Muslims for the actions and decisions taken by less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population today. Nevertheless, it is important we understand why these lost souls chose to migrate to areas previously controlled by the nearly defunct ISIS (or whatever next they mutate into).

To conclude this has to do with “religious motivation” is simply false. In fact, the article below explain why these people think what they are doing is for religion when what they are doing is precisely the exact opposite of what Islam allows them to do. The following article also provides a snapshot of ISIS and its credibility among 99.97 percent of the Muslim population globally:

When ISIS beheaded 21 of Egypt’s Coptic Christians earlier this week [in early February 2015], they claimed to be doing God’s work. They quoted religious sounding terminology like “ fighting until the war lays down its burdens”, not ceasing until the Promised Messiah returns to “break the cross” and “kill the swine”. As a Muslim, one watches in dismay. Religious concepts and terminology ripped out of context and proper use to justify the death of 21 innocent human beings. When meaning is lost, only words remain, and in this case they’re religious sounding but totally devoid of religious truth. Let me share with you some real religious truths: the Koran likens the murder of an innocent life to the murder of the entire humanity, such is its gravity. The Koran also declares that there is “no compulsion in matters of religion”. It declares that religious war, like the one that ISIS is claiming, is totally forbidden. Permission is only granted in situations such as when a religious community has been severely persecuted and has lost all semblance of freedom of conscience. None of these conditions exist for ISIS to claim legitimacy. However, the Koran, whose message ISIS butcher at every turn, even instructs Muslims to protect the religious freedoms of others when they are persecuted and threatened . . . Today we are left perplexed by the same question – are ISIS extremely selfish or just mad? There’s a good chance it’s both, although if there one thing that their actions have made absolutely clear is there is nothing “Islamic” about ISIS. (Source: You only need to read these passages from the Koran to realise that there’s nothing ‘Islamic’ about the Islamic State by Adam Walker on 19 February 2015, The Independent)

HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY OBEYING ALLAH GIVEN HOW MUSLIMS ARE KILLING CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA?

During the medieval and early modern periods that is, for up to 1400 years since the advent of Islam up to seventy years ago, following the fall of the Ottoman empire, Christians and Jews generally received better treatment in Muslim lands than Muslims and Jews received in Christian lands, an indisputable and historical fact.

However to really respond to this false statement and severely misinformed view, it is best to share a Letter to the Editor by yours truly (updated since), that focuses on the same subject: The barbaric actions of ISIS has everything to do with power and politics and clearly nothing to do with religion.

Arab Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and Shias as well as their churches and places of worships have co-existed peacefully in Iraq and Syria for centuries. In fact before the civil war in 2010, this group of minorities accounted for 26 percent of the population [in Syria].

If Islam were about killing other non-Muslim Arabs 1400 years ago, there would not have been any minorities left in the region today.

To falsely claim today’s sectarian conflict is a continuation of an ancient religious divide is not only a misreading of history but a complete fabrication of it. In fact for centuries non-Arab minorities have relished the opportunity of living in cities ruled by Muslims. This is true during the Crusades when crusaders recruited by quoting out of context verses from the Bible, as well as at the time of the Islamic Golden Age, when the international language of science was Arabic.

Furthermore, Sunni Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS a group that preposterously claims to be Sunni itself and yet not only do Sunni Muslims account for the largest victims and casualties but are also actively fighting the grotesque savagery of ISIS today, more than any other ethnic group. If it weren’t for the false intelligence, illegal invasion of Iraq, non-existent post-war planning and the disbanding of the Iraqi army in 2003 let alone the installation of a puppet government that unleashed a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle, ISIS and its spiraling descent of madness would not have been formed today.

ISIS, like other deviant Muslims and groups today, that account for less than a fraction of 0.03 percent of Muslims worldwide justify their actions by quoting out-of-context verses from the Qur’an but if they claim to be following their religion, what religion are the rest of more than 99.97 percent of Muslims worldwide following?

In the current culture of Muslim witch-hunting and blaming Islam let alone Allah for every- thing, this simple yet important question is worth reflecting on. (Source: Letter to the Editor, 3 December 2015, South China Morning Post)

Put simply, the Qur’an, Islam and Muslims have been around for approximately 1400 years (since the seventh century) while “Islamic” terrorism has been around for around 30-40 years (late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon), therefore how can Islam all of a sudden become a problem?

IF MUSLIMS ARE SO WELCOMING, WHY ARE SO MANY CHRISTIANS FLEEING THE MIDDLE EAST?

In a clear and concise explanation by James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, he writes: Before the Bush Administration’s disastrous 2003 invasion, there were 1.3 millions in Iraq. Despite assuming some religious trappings, Saddam Hussein’s ruthless dictatorship was secular and, therefore, provided Christians some degree of religious freedom. One result of the US invasion that overthrew Saddam’s regime and the dismantling of Iraq’s state apparatus was to unleash a civil war of armed sectarian militias, a feature of which was the “ethnic cleansing” of entire neigh- borhoods of Sunni and Shia Muslims and, of course, vulnerable Christians – who had no militias to protect them.

During the first five years of the Iraq war, the Christian population of Iraq declined from 1.3 million to 400,000 – with no one in the Bush Administration attending to their plight. Only with the emergence of bloody ISIS, did the West pay attention to the fate of Iraq’s Christians. (Source: The Arab World’s Christians: Easter, 2017, 15 April 2017, James Zogby, Huffington Post)

GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND MANY OTHERS HAVE UNEQUIVOCALLY HELPED PROVE THE QUR’AN IS VIOLENT.

ISIS has absolutely nothing to do with religion but the absurd misinterpretation of Islam and the Qur’an. Even the apartheid regime is known to have used the Bible to justify its inhumane policies. Similarly, run by individuals with Muslim names who invoke the name of Allah or quote verses from the Qur’an before committing abhorring acts of terrorism, the vast majority of Muslims not only condemn ISIS but there is a colossal irony in how the group which has the largest number of victims of terrorism (Muslims) are often blamed for it.

There are no violent, extremist or provocative verses in the Qur’an, only distorted, misquoted and purposefully misinterpreted ones. (Source: There is not a place in paradise awaiting terrorists – but there are abusive hate preachers who exploit vulnerable young Muslims in this life by Atif Rashid, 31 May 2017, The Independent)

Using perhaps a simple yet effective litmus test as anecdotal evidence, if the entire Qur’an had said nothing else but “do good and avoid evil” in clear and simple terms, you can be sure there will still be people with interpretive biases who will take this verse out of context and commit murder and spread mayhem justifying their actions using this simple verse.

One must not forget that Malala Yousafzai read the same Qur’an, but interpreted the text as a call to education and female empowerment. But to those who fear monger, ISIS is the face of Islam instead. (Source: Post London Attack, Here’s How Muslims Can Help Fight Terrorism, Hasan Piker, 22 March 2017, Huffington Post)

Given such, there will always be people (both ISIS let alone the Saudis, Nigerians, Somalis, Sudanese and others), who will twist verses in the Qur’an to justify their actions. Fundamentally, verses in a book cannot be held responsible for the acts of terror some individuals with Muslim or Christian names commit in the name of their religion.

BUT LOOK – THE QUR’AN PROMOTES VIOLENCE.

The most cold-blooded partial verse may be “Kill them wherever you encounter them” (Qur’an 2:191), which is often cited as evidence of Islam’s intolerance. But the rest of this verse and passage indicates that this references the tribes who were persecuting Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers, and furthermore counsels that fighting is to stop when persecution stops: “If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further] hostility, except toward aggressors”. (Qur’an 2:191-193).(Source: An Atheist’s (Somewhat) Relaxed View of the Qur’an by Ronald A. Lindsay on August 1 2014, Huffington Post)

OKAY BUT THE RISE OF ISIS PROVES THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ISLAM THAT ENCOURAGES VIOLENCE AND INTOLERANCE.

ISIS is as much Islamic as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda is Christian, which it isn’t. Nevertheless, one should not forget how ISIS came into being: Without the US invasion of Iraq, there will be no ISIS. Without the disastrous post-war polices of de-Baathification, the Sunni minority would not have felt marginalised and gravitated towards their own Sunni devils (al-Qaeda) shunning the Shia devils, who as part of the government in Iraq, were just as brutal. Thus, the primary factor behind the rise of ISIS is a foreign occupation, a lesson that seems to be lost in the hullabaloo over how to label ISIS. (Source: The Hubris of the Islamic Label on 25February 2015 by Parvez Ahmed, Huffington Post)

 In other words, if it weren’t for the sharp wrong turn with the disastrous let alone illegal invasion of Iraq by the 48 countries as part of the “coalition of the willing”, extremism that has mutated to its current shape and form would not have been given the much needed oxygen it needed to expand and thrive today.

On a lighter note: “If the rise of ISIS proves all Muslims are inherently violent, than the fact that 5 of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim makes us all Muslims Noble Peace Prize winners?”

FYI, the winners include: (I) Shirin Ebadi (Iranian activist, 2003); (II) Mohamed ElBaradei (former head of the Int’l Atomic Energy Agency, 2005); (III) Muhammed Yunus (micro nance pioneer, 2006); (IV) Tawakkol Karman (Yemeni activist, 2011); (V) Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani activist, 2014) (Source: Words by Hend Amry, Libyan-American) 

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

COUNTER-TERRORISM POLICIES FUELING ISLAMOPHOBIA

MASS SURVELLAINCE OF MUSLIMS HELPS FIGHT TERROR.

Instead of exploiting terrorists attacks in the West by making the case for bulk data surveillance, intelligence agencies ought to instead explain for themselves how and why they were not able to uncover any trace of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 or the series of coordinated attacks across Paris in November 2015 that led to the killings of 130 innocent civilians let alone for example, the scale of Salah Abdeslam’s network and his ability to avoid capture for six months after the attack.

What is the point of spending billions on a multi-layered, cumbersome intelligence apparatus, hacking email accounts, tapping cell phones or drowning oneself in secret information if we have to be caught at-footed every time with a surprise attack (zero knowledge of the respective networks that carried out both the Paris and Brussels mass attacks), all the while sowing resentment through discriminatory levels of surveillance and harassment among its Muslim citizens?

In fact, what is the point of being able to “read ISIS communiqués when the government ignores the socioeconomic, ethno-cultural and urban subcultural background” of what’s happening within the local communities? (Source: A message from Molenbeek: ‘We are not terrorists’ by Aleksandra Eriksson, 19 November 2015, Aljazeera.com)

From the swift collapse of the Iraqi security forces to the rise of ISIS to the Russians beginning their full-scale bombing campaign in Syria, what is the point of having hundreds of thousands of analysts and intelligence operatives spending close to US$70 billion annually on counter intelligence when it runs counter to gathering intelligence and the West is caught o guard when these so-called trigger events take place?

Therefore, mass surveillance has not proven to help thus far, and the case against it grows stronger every time there is an unexpected attack on civilians.

WE SHOULD THEN TACKLE RADICALISATION BY SPYING ON MOSQUES.

Over in the UK as well as in America, the abject failure of the Prevent strategy, if it can actually be called a strategy – has increasingly become a pathway to stigmatising all young Muslims. (Source: What to do when the book police arrive: read on, AL Kennedy, 7 August 2016, The Guardian), sowing the seeds of mistrust and fear of Muslims and Islam by the British government.

Similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s disastrous CVE programme, functionally tailored to police Muslim Americans, “Prevent” (read “country-wide spying on Muslims and state-backed Islamophobia”) is yet another valid example of misguided intelligence. Why isn’t anyone honest enough to point out the intelligence apparatus ought to stop confusing religiosity for extremism and radicalisation does not take place in mosques?

Worse still, planting informants at mosques and schools and spying on Muslims en masse has never worked in the past and there is no evidence to support it will work in the future. Instead, the principal source of brainwashing and recruitment is the hard-to-govern internet, an area Western governments need to find a way to master.

In France, Xavier Bertrand, a former French labor and health minister, said in a parliamentary statement in late November 2015: “The focus should not be on mosques, but on countering radical websites. “It’s Imam Google. That’s where they go, not to the mosque”.

Mosques are places where people of faith go to hear hopeful messages in good times as well as in periods of adversity. Therefore if the real intention is to develop a containment strategy of extremism thinking, the mosque actually serves as an indispensable source.

In fact, in nine out of 10 cases if not more, individuals with Muslim names that have participated in acts of terror are not known to visit mosques bringing into question the lopsided rationale of intelligence gathering at mosques.

“If you listen to anti-terror judges, they will tell you that radicalisation takes place outside of mosques. It happens in jails or clandestine circles or via the internet”. (Source: Activists decry mosque closures in France by Anealla Safdar, 3 December 2015, Aljazeera.com)

Writing for the Independent, Joshua Stewart sums it up:

Prison is where this experience can be connected and ne tuned into a “higher purpose.” For the recruiter, vulnerable people and gang members are ideal recruits – they are people who may require protection when inside or validation that their lives can have purpose – and that the state has always been “against them”. The dangling of religion and ideology forms what we might call a “tangible legitimiser” of past and future behaviours. (Source: What we do know about the Paris Orly attacker should concern us – terrorism doesn’t always start where we think, Joshua Stewart, 20 March 2017, The Independent)

BUT SPYING ON MUSLIMS HELPS COMBAT TERROR.

For more than six years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a secretive police-spying program targeted New York and New Jersey Muslims solely because of their faith. But after the program was exposed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by The Associated Press, an NYPD officer was forced to admit that all that spying had been for naught.

In a sworn deposition submitted to the court as part of a lawsuit, the chief of the NYPD Intelligence Division, Lt. Paul Galati, conceded that the mass NYPD surveillance of Muslims had yielded exactly zero leads into criminal or terrorist activity. (Source: American Mosques Are Actually A Great Deterrent Against Violent Extremism, Christopher Mathias, 21 June 2016, Huffington Post)

Although right-wing groups or white supremacist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Brotherhood account for the vast majority of the violence ordinary Americans face today, the US government has developed the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme to counter terrorism among Arab- and Muslim-American community exclusively, a segment that accounts for less than 5 percent of all acts of violence since September 2001 while curiously, nothing similar exists for white supremacist or self-professed Christians or other groups prone to gun violence. Why?

WHY ARE MUSLIMS AGAINST SELF-SURVEILLANCE?

Why do politicians push for more “self-surveillance” among Muslims but do not ask Christian churches to police themselves for the actions of white supremacists especially given more civilians have been killed by right-wing white Christian violence in the West than by Muslims (including the abhorrent massacre in Orlando in June 2016)?

Even the New York Times reported in 2015 that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.

As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June [2015] in the New York Times, Islam- inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities. (Source: You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists by Ian Millhiser, 30 November 2015, Think Progress)

As a regrettable example once every couple of days, there is a news report of some disaffected “white person emptying his gun chamber at a movie theater, clinic, school or church, yet no one proposes to lock down white neighborhoods or close American borders to white men” (Source: Trump, Cruz ideas are just plain stupid, Leonard Pitts Jr., 25 March 2016, Miami Herald) because of it but lo and behold, when a shooting is caused by an individual with a Muslim name, the rules change. Why?

Americans are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing, violent extremist than by a Muslim violent extremist, and many, many times more likely to be killed by gun violence than violent extremism generally. And yet, the government doesn’t seem concerned with either gun violence or violent extremism arising from non-Muslim communities. (Source: Is Islam Responsible For The Orlando Nightclub Shooting?, 14 July 2016, Todd Green, Huffington Post)

BUT PEOPLE WITH MUSLIM NAMES WHO COMMIT TERRORIST ATTACKS IN THE NAME OF ISLAM ARE ALL RELIGIOUS.

If you were to examine the profile of every single self-professed Muslim “lone-wolf ”, that has committed an act of violence in the last decade, you will notice how these acts are perpetrated by radicalised people made vulnerable themselves by mental health issues or petty crimes (the classic “crime-terror” nexus), individuals who have been promised redemption by online extremist clerics and religious zealots in jail.

To restore a sense of significance in their lives, they are led to feel a greater sense of purpose foolishly thinking an act of terrorism will win them a ticket into eternal rewards in the afterlife. A scam does not get any bigger than this.

In the words of Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer with extensive experience with Mideast extremist organizations: “Those who truly crave religious immersion would go to Al-Azhar in Cairo”, referring to the thousand-year-old seat of learning for Sharia and Qur’anic studies.

“If martyrdom is seen as the highest religious calling, then a reasonable expectation would be that the people with the most knowledge about Islamic law (Sharia) would desire to carry out these operations with greater frequency but those with the most religious knowledge within the organization itself are the least likely to volunteer to be suicide bombers”. (Source: ‘Islam for Dummies’: IS recruits have poor grasp of faith, By Aya Batrawy, Paisley Dodds and Lori Hinnant, Aug 15, 2016, Associated Press)

According to most scholars and terrorism experts who study terrorism, religion is not a motivating factor for terrorists. In fact, most militants are religiously illiterate. Marc Sageman, a former CIA analyst and psychiatrist is on record saying very few terrorists know and understand the Qur’an or other Islamic texts and traditions. They may not be uneducated but their engagement with Islam is shallow and uninformed. (Source: Is Islam Responsible For The Orlando Nightclub Shooting?, 14 July 2016, Todd Green, Huffington Post)

In fact, an AP analysis of thousands of leaked ISIS documents in 2016 revealed most of its recruits from its earliest days came with only the most basic knowledge of Islam. A little more than 3,000 of these documents included the recruit’s knowledge of Sharia, the system that interprets into law verses from the Qur’an and “Hadith” (the narrated sayings and actions of Muhammad [PBUH] . . . According to the documents, 70 per cent of recruits were listed as having just “basic” knowledge of Sharia – the lowest possible choice. Around 24 per cent were categorized as having an “intermediate” knowledge, with just five per cent considered advanced students of Islam. Five recruits were listed as having memorized the Qur’an . . . ISIS’ most notorious new supporters appear to have an equally tenuous link with religion. Mohamed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel, who killed 85 people by plowing a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France, was described by family and neighbors as indifferent to religion, volatile and prone to drinking sprees, with a bent for salsa dancing and a reported male lover. (Source: Islam for Dummies’: IS recruits have poor grasp of faith by Aya Batrawy, Paisley Dodds and Lori Hinnant, Aug. 15, 2016, Associated Press)

WHAT ABOUT MUSLIM REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS. THEY ARE ATTACKING THE WEST.

In a candid article on right-wing violence, the author raises at least five important points worth remembering:

(1) To date, no ISIS member or Syrian refugee has ever bombed or planned to bomb a black church or home;

(2) Nor have they [Muslims] walked into a Bible Study in the basement of a black church and unleashed a hail of bullets;

(3) Neither are [Muslims] at fault for the continuing epidemic of unarmed black men, women, boys, and girls murdered by police officers in the streets of America;

(4) They [Muslims] have not turned our communities into militarized zones;

(5) Nor have black people mysteriously died in their prisons.

(Source: American Terrorist by Michael W Waters on 25 November 2015, Huffington Post)

WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT MUSLIMS WHO ARE GETTING RADICALISED FURTHER.

We are often told endlessly about how terrorism radicalises Muslims. What is not as often pointed out is that terrorism radicalises all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. Individuals with Muslim names who commit acts of terror, and non-Muslim citizens of the West who overreact in ways, ultimately detrimental to everyone else around them, as the May & June 2017 attacks in Portland, USA and Finsbury Park, UK, among others illustrate.

In Portland, USA a 53-year-old U.S. Army veteran Rick Best and 23-year-old recent university graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai- Meche were both murdered, while 21-year-old poet Micah David-Cole Fletcher was severely injured, by a knife-wielding white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian, when the three of them tried to prevent him from harassing a Muslim woman in a headscarf on their commuter train in Portland, Oregon in late May 2017.

At the Finsbury Park Mosque, UK an elderly Muslim man was purposefully struck and killed by a van driver Darren Osborne, following late night prayers in Ramadan in late June 2017. Worse still, Richard Gear Evans son of the owner of the Van hire company, Stobart Group, later said: “It’s a shame they don’t hire out tanks”, illustrating the culture of hatred towards Muslims.  Nonetheless, are white Britons en masse or ordinary white Americans asked to condemn these heinous acts just as Muslims are perpetually asked to condemn Islamist acts of violence? Just as equally important, is the question being asked: Who radicalised these persons?

Given the typical draconian measures every time there is a terrorist attack, which in turn often encourage racism and the disproportional media coverage of attacks by lone-wolves with Muslim names who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, governments in the West are responsible for planting the seeds for radicalisation and essentially helping extremists recruit by fueling the narrative that the West is anti- Islam and anti-Muslim. Social exclusion and the idea to isolate the Muslim community is the root cause of radicalisation (Source: I’ve studied radicalisation – and Islamophobia often plants the seed, Sarah Lyons-Padilla, 13 June 2016, The Guardian)

 “The counterterrorism apparatus is the key element in disadvantaging Muslims. We should talk about people being attacked on buses or refused service in shops, but what stands behind all that is government counterterrorism policy”. (Source: Muslims face ‘worsening environment of hate’ in UK by Simon Hooper, 18 November 2015, Aljzeera.com quoting David Miller, a professor of sociology at the University of Bath on government counter- terrorism policies that were the “backbone” of Islamophobia in the UK)

Citing an example of a failed anti-terror legislative strategy in Australia: Almost 60 pieces of legislation dealing with terrorism have been passed since 2002 . . .There is no evidence that the vast array of powers that police security agencies and government lawyers have had since 2002 in Australia have stopped a terrorist attack. There is certainly no evidence that the latest proposals will do any such thing – if anything, as noted above, they are an invitation to radicalise. (Source: Welcome to authoritarian Australia, where more anti-terror laws won’t keep us safe by Greg Barns on 13 October 2015, The Guardian)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MOST TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS . . .

NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS BUT MOST TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS.

A trite, statistically and factually false cliché that could not be further from the truth. In the 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office report tracking deadly terror attacks in America, it found far-right extremists have killed more people in America between 9/11 and 2016 than Muslim extremists.

“Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far-right groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).”That’s a margin of almost three to one.

In a separate report titled “A Dark and Constant Rage” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), it noted how rightwing extremists (85 percent of whom are anti-abortionists and anti-immigrant extremists) have been responsible for at least 150 acts of terror in America over the past 25 years, killing 255 people and injuring 600 more. The New America Foundation meanwhile has counted 11 attacks by Islamic extremists since 9/11, compared to 21 by far-right extremists.

Ninety six percent of domestic terrorism [in the U.S] is committed by white men. The exact figure is disputed, but all statistics have it at more than 90 percent. (Source: Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam by Omar Alnatour on 9 December 2015, Huffington Post)

Even the New York Times reported in 2015 that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims. While the numbers vary due to different methodologies, the writing on the wall is too plain to see.

Over the Atlantic in Britain, official statistics too, found 91 out of a total 260 people held on suspicion of terrorism offences were white, the highest number since 2003. White suspects made up 35 per cent – or again, one in three – of all terror related arrests in 2016, compared with 25 per cent in 2015. Home Office figures also showed 41 per cent of people who were investigated under anti-terror legislation between 2009 and 2016 were white.

It is however important to point out Muslim extremists, are more deadly in terms of the number of people killed in each of their attacks, yet far-right terrorists are far more active and consistent in carrying out deadly attacks on American soil, especially when one considers “41 percent of the deaths attributable to radical Islamist violent extremists occurred in a single event – the 2016 attack at Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida”. (Source: Congress by the Government Accountability Office)

Despite this, attacks by Muslims in America receive on average, about 41⁄2 times more coverage than similar attacks by far right extremists. In other words, media coverage disproportionately emphasise the smaller number of terrorist attacks by Muslims, consequentially leading Americans to have an exaggerated sense of that threat, according to a recent Cato Institute report, a leading American public policy think tank.

Of course, counterbalancing savagery is never useful but it is often made to appear anybody making this obvious point is seeking to limit the responsibility of terrorism by Muslim extremists and its apologists when the unequivocal purpose should not only be to avoid downplaying the threat posed by Muslim extremists which is real but shine the much needed spotlight equally on the terror threat from far-right white extremist groups instead of not daring to speak its name.

Robert Fisk of the Independent Newspaper surmises it best: “If Muslims attack us, they are terrorists. If non-Muslims attack us, they are shooters. If Muslims attack other Muslims, they are attackers.” (Source: We love to talk of terror – but after the Munich shooting, this hypocritical catch-all term has finally caught us out, Robert Fisk, 24 July 2016, The Independent), laying it bare the shifting goalposts when it comes to media reporting.

Thanks to the reliably biased media coverage and media timidity when it comes to the under-reporting of violence perpetrated by right- wing white extremists, there exist a vast difference between false public perception and the number of actual cases in which Muslim extremists or black Americans have claimed lives.

WHITE SUPREMACISTS KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN MUSLIMS – IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE 9/11 ATTACKS (3000 DEATHS) AND ORLANDO SHOOTINGS (49 DEATHS).

Sure but why start counting on 9/11 alone when white extremism and Muslim militancy has been a mainstay since the 1990s, if not earlier? Also, why not encompass the “nearly 4 million civilians killed during the War on Terror by America and its allies since 9/11”, according to the Center for Research on Globalisation?

THE ISSUE WITH MUSLIMS IS NOT BODY COUNT BUT INTENT. KILLINGS IN THE NAME OF ISLAM ARE USUALLY ACCOMPANIED BY SHOUTS OF “ALLAHU AKBAR” AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS “DON’T MURDER WHILE SHOUTING “JESUS IS LORD”.

When George W Bush launched his illegal invasion into Iraq, thus unleashing a Pandora’s box of events triggering regional upheaval and the loss of up to four million lives, he claimed “God spoke to him”, but are Christian leaders put on the dock for repeated questioning and endless condemnation?

In November 2015, an evangelical Christian, Robert Dear killed three and injured nine at an anti-abortion clinic in Colorado. He even praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work”. In court, he praised Army of God, a Christian terrorist group that is responsible for similar killings, such as Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who also bombed a lesbian bar.

Then there is Reverend Paul Jennings (1994), Scott Roeder (2009), Micah Johnson (2016) and many other Christians with similar motives. Does the name Robert Doggart ring a bell? It should but it’s unlikely you heard about him. Doggart, a Christian minister who wanted to carry out a mission for God, was arrested for planning to murder Muslims in Islamberg, New York, a primarily African American Muslim community.

Doggart had hoped to kill the Muslims there using explosives, guns, and even a machete to cut the people “to shreds.” Doggart’s trial is currently scheduled for August . . . If Doggart had been a Muslim cleric plotting to slaughter Christians, does anyone doubt it would have made national news? (Source: Coverage of the Istanbul Bombing Proves Once Again That American Media Care Little About Muslim Lives, Dean Obeidallah, 1 July 2016, Huffington Post)

 With white Christians accounting for the largest number of mass shootings in the US, do we demand the pope to condemn mass shootings every couple of days?

In India, Muslims are killed for allegedly slaughtering cows and eating beef, not by real Hindus but right-wing zealots who commit acts of violence in the name of their religion.

In Israel, illegal settlers kill indigenous Palestinians believing God unequivocally gave Jews the West Bank, citing Genesis 13:14-17 but it is simply unfair to implicate Jewish leaders, Rabbis or Judaism for the crimes of those with an intolerant view of others.

Atheists do not escape scot-free either. The “anti-theist” Stephen Hicks from the January 2016 Chapel Hill shootings of three Muslims and Chris Harper from the Oregon killings of Christians, are two of many examples of anti-religious people who commit acts of violence but atheists collectively are never called to account, illustrating how religion is not always the cause for violence. Why?

White Americans are never asked to publicly condemn their actions but an unfair perpetual finger is pointed at Muslims demanding that “moderate Muslims” deny, condemn and disavow (read: bow and scrape) to the world the actions of a minority of deviant Muslims who commit acts of violence. Why?

STILL, THE GUNMAN FROM THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING IN FLORIDA WAS A MUSLIM.

Scapegoating Islam is nothing but a cheap shot. Omar Mateen, an American born, did have a Muslim name but:

he drank alcohol, used to hit his ex-wife and reportedly was a homosexual himself. He pledged allegiance to ISIS (a group condemned by vast majority of Muslims) minutes before he went on a US home-grown hatred-filled shooting rampage. Is it really that difficult to see the obvious disconnect between his actions and Islam?

Intriguingly, almost similar background conditions apply to Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the convicted felon and truck driver in the Nice attack in France in July 2016, who:

“ate pork, drank alcohol and never went to the mosque”, according to his family.

In fact, mass shootings are not unique to Islam nor are they alien to America. There are over 300 each year. Recently, Esteban Santiago, a Christian and Iraq war veteran opened re on unsuspecting travelers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in early January 2017, killing five and injuring six others. In a year before the shooting, he had at least five run-ins with police in Anchorage, Alaska. Yet no red flags were raised and not a single media report curiously attributed his mass shooting to domestic terrorism or religion.

Also, the same parallels can be drawn with the Paris Orly airport shooter (a Muslim drug addict with an extensive criminal record) in March 2017 and the white 17-year old French teenager (incidentally, son of a far-right French politician) who went on a shooting rampage a few days apart, armed with a rifle, a revolver, a pistol and grenades, in the southern French town of Grasse.

One was immediately labelled a “terrorist act” while the other was “mentally disturbed”. No million- dollar prize for guessing which one was which.

IF YOU MUSLIMS REALLY BELIEVE IN PEACE, WHY ARE MUSLIMS ATTACKING AMERICA?

If an individual with a Muslim name commits an inhumane act of violence, it is instantaneously labeled “an act of terror” but if a gun-totting white person does the same, it is sidelined as a “criminal act” or he is classified as “mentally disturbed”.

“According to an affidavit from the FBI that was led in federal court, Mr. Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell had told an under- cover FBI agent he was interested in “doing something on a f***ing big scale” and writing “in the spirit of Dylann Roof ” on the wall of the building where he would commit the killings. Roof who was only charged with a hate crime was sentenced to death in January 2017 for killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston but was not slapped with a terrorism charge.” (Source: FBI: South Carolina man bought gun for attack “in the spirit of Dylaan Roof ”, 16 February 2017, CBS News), thus illustrating “terrorism can be committed by a person who doesn’t have a foreign- sounding name or brown skin”. Meanwhile, Glendon Scott Crawford is also another of many examples. Sentenced in December 2016 to 30 years in prison for trying to build a weapon of mass destruction to kill Muslim Americans, he was not charged with terrorism nor did we see wall-to-wall media coverage about his case – something we would’ve likely witnessed if he were Muslim. (Source: White supremacist gets 30 years prison for his plot to kill Muslims and Obama, 19 December 2016, Reuters)

 In fact, a report published in 2015 confirmed violence by white Americans since 9/11 is a much bigger threat for ordinary Americans than violence committed by Muslims. In the words of a rare but important media report itself:  “CNN’s Peter Bergen noted earlier this year [that is, 2014], since 9/11, extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology”. (Source: A Cop Killing and a Beheading: How Fox News Picks and Chooses Its ‘Terrorism’ Targets on 30 Sept 2014 by Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America)

Therefore, to misrepresent Muslims as the enemy could not be further from the truth but at least in the short-term, this is not likely to change unless the media, politicians and right-wing groups stop conflating the actions of criminals (with a history of drug dealing, armed robbery, violence and/or theft) or misguided individuals with that of ordinary Muslims and Islam – and truthfully acknowledge the role and growing threat of far-right, white violence (read “terrorism”).

 IF ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT PEACE, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY “LONE WOLF” ATTACKS COMING FROM MUSLIMS, EVEN IN PLACES OUTSIDE AMERICA?

In the following article published by The Star, based on documents by the Canadian intelligence agency (excerpts only), the excerpts focuses on how the notion of the Western world at war with Islam plays right into terrorist’ recruitment strategies. “Lone wolf ” attacks more often come from white supremacists and extreme right-wing ideologies than from Islamic radicalism, internal CSIS documents say. Citing recent academic research, the unclassified documents note extreme right-wing and white supremacist ideology has been the “main ideological source” for 17 per cent of so-called lone wolf attacks worldwide. Islamic extremism accounted for 15 per cent of such attacks, the document noted, while left-wing extremism and “black power” groups followed with 13 per cent. Anti-abortion activism (8 per cent) and nationalism/separatism (7 per cent) rounded out the list, while in 40 per cent of cases there was no clear ideological motivation. “Lone actors tend to create their own ideologies that combine personal frustrations and grievances, with wider political, social, or religious issues,” note the documents prepared for Michael Peirce, assistant director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service . . . “This study confirms that lone actor terrorism runs the gamut of ideological persuasions.” . . . The CSIS documents explicitly warn that the notion the Western world is at war with Islam plays into terrorist recruitment strategies. “International terrorist groups place a high priority on radicalising Westerners who can be used to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries,” the documents read. “The narrative that the West is at war with Islam continues to exert a very powerful in influence in radicalising individuals and spreads quickly through social media and online foray.” . . . Ziyaad Mia, who has been following the government’s proposed new spy powers for the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, said anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada is a growing concern, particularly in the context of the rhetoric from top government officials . . . “Some of this xenophobia is being stoked by political leaders. And I think that is a problem,” Mia told the Star . . . “Some of our political leaders need to tone that rhetoric down and actually calm people down . . . and tell people this is not the right way to go, instead of stoking the fears of xenophobia by talking about the war on terror and (that) we’re in this sort of apocalyptic con ict with the Islamic State.” (Source: CSIS highlights white supremacist threat ahead of radical Islam by Alex Boutilier on Mar 15 2015, The Star)

WHAT ABOUT THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE BY MUSLIMS IN EUROPE?

Here is another article (again, excerpts only) that debunks the myth “all the terrorists have been of Islamic background”: Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent. As Europol, the European Union’s law- enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs. We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on. Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question. Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti- Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts ll the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. (Source: Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close by Dean Obeidallah on 14 January 2015 on Thedailybeast.com)

REGARDLESS, MAJOR TERRORIST INCIDENTS ARE USUALLY PERPETRATED BY MUSLIMS.

Three of four of the biggest mass killings over the last twenty years were carried out by far-right white Christian supremacists: (I) Timothy McVeigh (Roman Catholic) killing 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995; (II) Anders Breivik (a baptised Christian) killing 77 in Norway in 2011; and (III) Stephen Paddock’s (atheist) Las Vegas Country Music Festival mass shooting in October 2017 killing at least 59 people (deadliest mass shooting in recent history) – while the series of coordinated attacks across Paris by self-proclaimed Muslims in November 2015 led to the killings of 130 innocent civilians – and yet no one expects ordinary Christians or the Pope or atheists to condemn terrorism in the same way Muslims are expected to. Why is that?

In fact, it goes back to an often repeated but widely ignored fact that when a self-proclaimed Muslim commits an act of terror in the name of Islam, he is identified with his faith but if an atheist or a follower of another religion commits an act of terror, it is called just that, skewing the overall number and perception of “terrorist” incidents against Muslims.

HOW CAN THE ROLE OF ISLAM BE DENIED IN RECENT TERROR ATTACKS?

“When George W. Bush told us that God called him to go to Iraq and when clergy blessed the war effort and when there has been no account- ability for horrors of Abu Ghraib and torture or the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans in what can only be described as a failed war based on a lie, have Christians been called upon to reexamine the principles of our faith?”. (Source: Were the Murders at Charlie Hebdo Really About Islam? By James Zogby on 17 January 2015, Huffington Post)

 When a Muslim commits a terrorist act, his faith is always mentioned while people who bomb abortion clinics are not called Christian terrorists and the IRA are not called Catholic terrorists. When ISIS in Libya brutally beheads Ethiopian Christians, they are labeled Muslims but when Muslims in Central African Republic (CAR) facing death threats are forcibly converted to Christianity, according to Amnesty International, (Source: CAR: Unprotected Muslims forced to abandon religion, 31 July 2015, Amnesty International) the finger is pointed at local militias rather than Christianity.

Thousands died in violence and hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes following a March 2013 coup in CAR and yet Christian leaders are never asked to apologise. Muslims meanwhile are expected to condemn ISIS when the actions of ISIS have no basis in Islam.

Christians were also not expected to say sorry for the lone-wolf actions for the Oklahoma City bombing, yet Muslims are being constantly expected to condemn let alone apologise.

Therefore, if the violent actions of individuals who call themselves Christians have nothing to do with Christianity, the actions of individuals with Muslim names or “lone-wolves” who commit acts of violence also have nothing to do with Islam. The motivations are political.

YOU SOUND LIKE YOU ARE JUSTIFYING TERROR ATTACKS. SUCH BARBARITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FOREIGN POLICY FAILURES.

It is astounding how one fails to see how the illegal Iraq invasion, war in Afghanistan and Libya, blanket support of hideous allies in the Middle East, the betrayal of Palestine, the complicity in extrajudicial killings and torture and ongoing deep prejudices, kick-started by neo-con opportunists well before 9/11 have made the world inflammable and unsafe today, a fact widely acknowledged by renowned intellectuals the world over such as Noam Chomsky. This is not a justification of terror attacks in the West but a partial explanation to events unfolding today on our shores.  Terrorism as we know it today is unfortunately a response to misguided foreign policies of the West. But it is not simply about misguided foreign policies only, either. The seeds of terrorism are broadly planted by at least five divergent parties nurturing the growth of this evil.

These include:

(1) misguided foreign policies and exploitation by leading Western governments with large defense industries that call themselves democracies (For example US, Europe among others);

(2) Unnecessarily hatred-inciting and blatantly false statements about ordinary Muslims and Islam by right-wing politicians, right-wing media (Fox, Breitbart, etcetera,) and agenda-specific think-tanks;

(3) Statements laced with double-standards and flagrantly misguiding statements about ordinary Muslims and Islam by mainstream politicians that are in a position of power with real in influence over public policy;

(4) Biased mainstream media against ordinary Muslims and Islam (self-explanatory unless you have been living somewhere with no TV or internet connection); and

(5) Self-professed Muslims (like ISIS that account for less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population) who commit high pro le acts of violence in the name of Islam or while invoking the name of Allah. They do what they do to create divisions in Western society and make the lives of Muslims in the West difficult so that Muslims in the West will be discriminated against as a result of the anti-Muslim witch-hunt and pushed towards extremism with the eventual aim of entering their ranks.

Therefore it is worth arguing, these self-professed bigots, with Muslim sounding names are actually set on inflicting more damage to Islam and ordinary Muslims than the four other groups mentioned above.

Put simply, the despicable effects of terrorism on Western civilian targets is often inresponse to misguided foreign policies in the Middle East, drone attacks targeting militants but causing untold innocent civilian casualties blowing body parts to bits, blind support of Arab dictators among a long list of reasons that sometimes lead to some form of a blowback in the form of terrorism, which when it arrives on our shores, quickly turns into anti-Muslim sentiments leading to what has now become the frequent anti-Muslim witch-hunt in the West.

In the end however, the false narratives, are not only immoral but also provide ammunition to the terrorists. Worse still, they make us all targets by playing directly into the hands of the propaganda that aims to divide and destroy us. Instead, it may be worth trying to marginalize this threat now not by framing religion as a threat but as a tool to end terrorism by battling against the incessant culture of falsification and witch-hunt against Islam and ordinary Muslims today, something misinformation, drones and Islamophobia has only made worse.

STILL, WHITE TERRORISM IS NOT WHAT IT IS OFTEN MADE OUT TO BE.

What terror plots on Muslim Americans?, you might be asking. Well that’s part of the problem . . .

There’s Glendon Scott Crawford, [a former navy veteran] and a Klan member, who was convicted [in August 2015] in federal court for trying to “acquire a radiation weapon for mass destruction” to kill Muslim Americans in New York State. He was convicted [in December 2016 and sentenced to 30 years in life imprisonment], but we didn’t see many national headlines for this story . . .

Does the name Robert Doggart ring a bell? It should but it’s unlikely you heard about him. Doggart, a Christian minister who wanted to carry out a mission for God, was arrested for planning to murder Muslims in Islamberg, New York, a primarily African American Muslim community. Doggart had hoped to kill the Muslims there using explosives, guns, and even a machete to cut the people “to shreds.” Doggart’s trial is currently scheduled for August . . . If Doggart had been a Muslim cleric plotting to slaughter Christians, does anyone doubt it would have made national news? (Source: Coverage of the Istanbul Bombing Proves Once Again That American Media Care Little About Muslim Lives, Dean Obeidallah, 1 July 2016, Huffington Post)

Ryan Giroux had white supremacist tattoos on his neck and face, only one news station bothered to mention that. So where are his accomplices? Why weren’t his parents, his family, his business acquaintances, anyone remotely related to him being carted off for questioning?

Where was the FBI when you needed them? Why is it that a day after the attacks, the story was already petering from the news? That most of my friends and relatives in other states hadn’t even heard about it until I told them? . . . Was it because his name wasn’t Muhammad? Khan? Umar? Was it because he wasn’t “Muslim” or Black or Colored? . . . I didn’t blink twice at my white co-workers, didn’t question them. It was obvious to me they had nothing to do with the violence going on outside, no affiliation, and there was no reason to connect them to it. (Source: I Survived a Terrorist Attack And The Terrorist Wasn’t Muslim, Hira Ismail, 10 June 2016, MuslimGirl)

BUT MUSLIMS ARE CONFUSING WHITE VIOLENCE WITH MENTAL INSTABILITY.

When a gun-totting “white” American goes on a rampage killing two dozen-odd people at a school, he is “mentally unstable” or when a self- proclaimed atheist kills Muslims (for example, students at UNC-Chapel Hill in February 2015), it takes the mainstream media 17 hours after the shooting to cover the event, hesitating all the while to call it what it is: a hate-crime, exposing the sickening double standards at play.

However, when a person with a Muslim name (with clear links to criminal gang violence) living in the West commits a similar act of violence killing 1-2 people for example during the Copenhagen shootings in February 2015 or the Westminster UK 2017 attack killing 2-4 people, he is immediately labelled a “terrorist”, when he is no less “mentally unstable”.

In the ever-piercing words of Dr. Suzanne Barakat: “If roles were reversed and an Arab Muslim . . . had killed three white American college students, execution-style, in their home, what would we have called it?” (Source: Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate, Ted Talks, 2016)

When accused of terrorism we are Muslims and when killed by deranged criminals, we become Asian. Basically, when Muslims are the victims, we are called ethnic this or that, and never quite Muslims but when an individual with a Muslim name commits an act of violence, Islam suddenly becomes part of that identity. Why is that?

ONE CAN FIND HORRIBLE STORIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BUT WE DON’T HAVE CHRISTIANS BELIEVING THEY MUST HURT, KILL, RAPE OR HARM OTHER PEOPLE.

May I remind you about the Crusades where 920 years ago, Pope Urban II referred to nonbelievers such as Muslims and Jews as the enemy and where hundreds of thousands of men embarked on war in the name of God, as they reveled in their slaughter?

In his noteworthy book, The Crusades notable historian Geoffrey Hindley wrote: “Crusaders were riding up to their bridle reins in blood at the Dome of the Rock and called the massacre a splendid judgment of God”.

More recently, we should never forget how no one else but an indifferent Christian Europe was responsible for the Holocaust.

Furthermore, over 4,250 blacks were lynched, outside churches on Sundays by the Klu Klux Klan, a self-professed Christian organization. Also since 9/11, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white Christian supremacists and not Muslims, according to New America, a Washington research center.

In fact, all the killings of abortion clinic doctors are nothing short of “Christian” terrorism if the religion of the murderer is to be used for labelling such inhumane crimes. Violence however is the exception, not the rule in Christianity, and the same is true for Islam.

For those who might jump at this chance to criticise religion, atheists like Pol Pot, Stalin, Chairman Mao, etcetera, are just as much if not more, guilty for horrible crimes against humanity. In fact, history is replete with examples of political leaders who used their words to incite hatred, start wars, and lead their people to commit genocide. (Source: Do Words Kill? Is Political Rhetoric Inciting Christians to Violence?, BJ Gallagher, 28 November 2016, Huffington Post).

In other words, people with twisted ideologies are the problem whether you follow Islam, Christianity in the case of Anders Breivik, Judaism in the case of Baruch Goldstein or more recently, IDF’s Elor Azaria, Hinduism in the case of RSS, Buddhism in the case of Ashin Wirathu or for that matter, Secularism or Atheism in the case of Craig Stephen Hicks from UNC North Carolina killings. Not religion, not race nor country of origin. To suggest otherwise is to be foolhardy.

THAT WAS ALL IN THE PAST. CHRISTIANITY TODAY, UNLIKE ISLAM IS A PEACEFUL RELIGION.

Since antiquity, people who call themselves Christians have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people based on the concept of “Holy War” . . . In modern history, numerous Christians have committed dreadful acts of violence, many times against the civilian population. Here is a short list of modern “Christian” terrorist groups: Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; Anti-balaka in Central African Republic; the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in India; the Maronite Christian militias in Lebanon; and, of course, IRA and the Orange Volunteers in Northern Ireland . . . Christianity, they argue, is the religion of love and peace. Those terrorists who claim to be Christians have merely perverted the true teachings of the Bible to justify violence for their personal gain. And likewise the white American Christians (mostly men) who commit terrorism are “lone-wolves,” who have mistakenly adopted an anti- abortion or militant agenda as a Christian ideal. (Source: The Religious Sources of Christian Terrorism by Babak Rahimi on 27 January 2016, Huffington Post)

The average Christian or the Church also has nothing to apologise for when Christian fanatics in the former Yugoslavia engaged in genocide against Muslims in Bosnia: Who this weekend remembered the “terrorist” slaughter of 8,000 innocent men and boys almost exactly 20 years ago? Yes, it happened in Europe. A place called Srebrenica. But they were Muslims. And no one blamed the Orthodox church to which the murderers belonged – any more than we blamed Catholics for the mass killing by Christian Catholic militiamen (allies of Israel) of 1,700 Palestinian civilians in Beirut in 1982. Yet those killers had pictures of the Virgin Mary on their rifle butts as surely as the killer of Sousse was acknowledged by Islamists whose slogan is Koranic . . . (Source: Tunisia hotel attack: Backdrop to this slaughter is a history of violence against Muslims, Robert Fisk, 28 June 2015, The Independent)

“When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross in a black family’s yard, Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts . . . Muslims are thrust in the spotlight to angrily condemn, disavow, and explain – again – how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam”. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA Champion and League Most Valuable Player. (Source: These Terrorists attacks are not about religion, 9 January 2015, Time)

Over the years, white Christian Americans have walked into schools and churches and slaughtered children and religious study groups. In fact, according to an excellent piece of research based on an extensive Gallup World Poll, the co-authors rightly point out:

“Christian activists have bombed gay bars, shot or killed abortion staff and bombed their clinics but what you won’t see are Baptists, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, agnostics or people of whatever spiritual background the terrorist happened to identify himself – being rounded up and quizzed to see if they think murder is really bad and whether they condemn it”.(Source: Who Speaks for Islam, Co-Authors, John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed)

As recently as November 2015, a self-avowed evangelical Christian, Robert Lewis Dear killed three and injured nine at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dear on several occasions openly expressed his support for radical Christian views and interpretations of the Bible, and praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work”.

Imagine what the media would do to a Muslim American [as they did by linking Omar Mateen a.k.a Orlando Shootings to Islam] if he praised suicide bombers as “God’s work.” or cited ISIS as “heroes.” But no, the rules for media condemnation are different when a white man with such strong misguided Christian beliefs utters such profanity.

Similarly, an ex-convict, Joseph Schreiber was sentenced to 30 years in prison in April 2017 for setting fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, United States at a mosque that the Orlando nightclub shooter attended occasionally. The damage to the mosque was so extensive that the mosque had to relocate. Schreiber who is a Jew confessed to committing the crime in September 2016 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks but to point the finger at Judaism for the misguided actions of a criminal is not only unfair but also ludicrous.

Therefore, what happened in San Bernardino was a criminal act. So was Columbine. So was Sandy Hook. So was Virginia Tech. We need to understand none of the above represents Christianity. Similarly, groups like ISIS that are committed to murder and mayhem don’t represent Islam either.

What the terrorists with Muslim names do is no more done in their name, than the shootings of abortion doctors are connected to the Church of England or the Vatican.

Over the Atlantic, it is worth noting that one of the worst acts of terrorism to have occurred in Europe in recent history – the 2011 attack in Norway that left 77 people dead – was committed by a Christian extremist, Anders Breivik. Yet, no one has ever asked the Pope at the Vatican or the Archbishop in whatever denomination of Christianity to condemn this or other terror attacks.

“During the colonial period, the Algerians were denied their identity, their language, and their rights. The French looked at and treated these Arabs as less than human. During all that time and even now, in hindsight, did we ask Christianity to reexamine itself? Did we ever suggest that this mass murderous rampage that engulfed a continent had its roots in a religion that glorified conquest and blessed oppression and racism?” James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute(Source: Were the Murders at Charlie Hebdo Really About Islam?, 17 January 2015, Huffington Post)

Put simply: The difference between Muslim violence and Christian violence is that when a Christian commits violence of any sort he is going against the teachings and life example of Jesus. But when a Muslim commits violence, he is following the teachings and life example of Mohammed [PBUH]. (Source: Gabe Kesseru, in a Letter to the Editor to USA Today on 3 July 2016)

SO YOU ARE DENYING THE RISKS AND THREAT OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM?

With over 300 million rearms in the US today, costing over 30,000 lives annually, mass shootings in America take many more lives than terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Yet, we are puzzlingly far more afraid of Muslims today.

In response to the 9/11 attacks, the West changed laws and rechanneled precious government spending towards terrorism, fought at least three wars and ignored gun safety laws, which would have surely made American streets much safer but no, this was not to be.

Among the many perils of American life from car crashes to suicide, E. coli illnesses to floods, injuries from crumbling infrastructure to mass killings by non-Islamic lone wolves, Islamic terrorism remains at the bottom of the barrel in the company of other frightening but rare events like shark attacks. Yet the American national security state has essentially been built and funded to protect you from that danger alone. (Source: Tomgram: Engelhardt, The National Security State’s Incestuous Relationship with the Islamic State by Tom Engelhardt on November 19, 2015)

In his lengthy interview with the Atlantic, Barack Obama said he often reminds his advisers that terrorism claims fewer American lives than “falls in bathtubs do”. (Source: Overreacting to Terrorism? by Nicholas Kristof, 24 March 2016, New York Times)

Furthermore in a separate report on gun violence in the US in 2015, more people were shot and killed by toddlers than by terrorists (Source: Toddlers Involved in More Shootings Than Terrorists in 2015 by Benjamin Powers, 29 November 2015, Huffington Post), illustrating how the threat of terrorism led by someone with a Muslim name is severely overblown.

Nonetheless, news tends to focus on terror attacks, suicide bombings and killing sprees by psychopaths while traffic accidents and people dying from falling over in their bathtubs gets lost in the fog of ill-informed news soundbites, even though these are far bigger dangers to most people. Worse still, technology is used to spread myths, in an unprecedented way to an unsuspecting audience, who then end up conflating this untruth as fact on the news, online and on social media. (Source: The anti-Prevent lobby are dominating the discourse, not all Muslims oppose Prevent, 7 October 2016, Sara Khan, LSE)

 IF WHITE TERRORISM IS REALLY AN ISSUE, WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

In a quick overview of how right-wing threats were overlooked and left to fester and grow in the post 9/11 climate, Richard Cohen from the Southern Poverty Law Center provides an excellent overview: After the bombing, then Attorney General Janet Reno formed the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to coordinate the government’s response. Numerous terror plots were foiled and militia leaders arrested. Partly as a result of the crackdown, the militia movement fell into disarray . . . As fate would have it, the terrorism task force was scheduled to hold a monthly meeting on Sept. 11, 2001. It did not meet that day, for obvious reasons. But the task force did not skip just one meeting. As the country’s focus shifted to al Qaeda, the group did not meet again for 13 years . . . During the interim, domestic extremism surged. The number of hate groups, mainly white supremacists, nearly doubled in a 10-year span . . . From 2008 to 2012, the number of so-called “Patriot” groups, including militias, multiplied by more than 800 percent, to 1,360 . . . West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center reported in 2013 that right-wing violence during the period surpassed that of the 1990s by a factor of four. The attacks included the 2012 massacre of six Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple by neo-Nazi Wade Page. (Source: President Trump: Don’t ignore terror from the radical right, 9 February 2017, Richard Cohen, Southern Poverty Law Center)

WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT OR PUBLICLY ELECTED POLITICIANS EVER LIE TO US?

Here a former adviser to former PM John Howard (days when terrorism was not much of a problem in Australia) talks about how politically expendable asylum seekers have been conflated with terrorism, laying the brickwork for social division and what ought to be done to repair the damage: It would be fair to say Muslims have had an uncomfortable existence in Australia since the influx of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran began in 1999. A general antipathy towards people from the Middle East was exacerbated by the Tampa incident in August 2001 and then the Al Qaeda attacks in September of the same year. Not long after, then defence minister Peter Reith made the first connection in Australians’ minds between boat-borne asylum seekers and terrorists, saying in a television interview “security and border protection go hand in hand”. By the time of the federal election, the Howard government was shamelessly hinting that asylum seekers could be terrorists trying to slip into Australia through the back door. Since that time, it has been in successive governments’ interests to maintain voters’ perception that asylum seekers, and particularly those of the Muslim faith, are a “threat” to our nation’s security and “our way of life”. A paramilitary edifice has been constructed around Australia’s border “protection” regime to simultaneously heighten our anxiety about apparent hordes of maybe-terrorists lingering o our northern shores, while giving assurance that Operation Sovereign Borders will protect us from those same barbarians. It’s the classic political sleight of hand: create a problem and then provide the solution in order to look like a hero. This tactic has inflicted a high price in terms of Australia’s social cohesion. The irresponsible branding of asylum seekers as potential jihadists has so infected our collective psyche that we now feel threatened by the mere presence of Middle Eastern men or Islamic accoutrements like the Burqa. It’s hardly surprising then that some young Muslims have felt marginalised and been drawn to the siren call of extremists offering a community in which to belong. Whether Australia is responsible or not for the eventual rise of Islamic State, along with the other prosecutors of the War on Terror, it is responsible at least in part for the radicalisation of its local Muslim population. No matter how warranted this latest military intervention into Iraq is, there is a responsibility incumbent on all concerned to ensure the “campaign for the campaign” does not exacerbate the isolation already being felt by Australian Muslims or antagonise any antipathy towards them. It’s one thing for the Government to describe the need for enhanced security measures in terms of the increased threat from which they’re designed to protect us; it’s quite another to create unnecessary anxiety to pressure the community into acquiescence. The latter course simply provides a platform for bigotry and hate-mongering such as that expressed by the Liberals’ Cory Bernardi and Palmer United Party’s Jacqui Lambie. It doesn’t help either to simply dismiss the Government’s talk of heightened threat levels as a mere shadow under the bed, or nothing more than an attempted deflection from its other woes. This does nothing to placate those members of the community who feel real anxiety about the threat of terrorism, or validate the good intentions of the vast majority of Australian Muslims . . . Any discussion of those exploiting the current terror threat debate would not be complete without a mention of the media. In the true spirit of the “if it bleeds, it leads” edict, Australia’s media has had a field day reporting the latest campaign in the War on Terror with must-buy front pages and click-worthy headlines. In the rush to secure an exclusive, the print media in particular has presented readers with factually anorexic stories and unedifying headlines such as “Police Kill Abbott Jihadi” and “Jihad Joey”. Another newspaper identified the wrong man altogether on its front page as an alleged terrorist. When it comes to exploitation of the terrorism threat, nobody’s hands are clean: not those of politicians, the media, or even our own. Home-grown extremism is a multifaceted and complex issue, fraught with the vagaries of the human condition. It’s a diabolical problem that cannot easily be addressed. Yet like most incendiary situations, the first step is clear: we need to take the heat out of it. The main players need to resist the temptation to exploit the terror threat discussion by exaggerating, scoring political points, sensationalising or using stereotypes. This would make a strong first step towards repairing the damage caused by more than a decade of having demonised Australian Muslims. By putting social cohesion first, we could do more for national security than fighting a foreign war ever could. (Source: How we’re exploiting the terrorism threat by Paula Matthews on 29 Sep 2014, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

 WITH RANDOM ACTS OF TERRORISM HAPPENING, ARE ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST AT FAULT IF THEY ARE SCARED OF ISLAM OR ANYONE SPORTING A BEARD OR A FULL BODY BURQA?

So ignorance is okay even if it leads to prejudice and discrimination let alone acid attacks or killings – and it is the fault of those who are being discriminated against and not the fault of those who discriminate? In fact, to actually believe it is not an average persons’ fault to have prejudice sounds like a popular line right from the playbook of the far-right.

Put simply, if one does not like someone from a community vilified in the press that is for example, a priest from a church because some churches turn a blind eye to pedophilia or someone from the LBGTQI community, the attack is free for all?

BUT THE WEST HAS ALWAYS BEEN TOLERANT TOWARDS MUSLIMS AND WHILE THERE MAYBE SOME FORM OF PREJUDICE TODAY, MOST COUNTRIES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN DO NOT HAVE SUCH PROBLEMS?

To dishonestly claim widespread discrimination and minority disillusionment doesn’t’ exist is completely false. To illustrate this, it may be worth going through some highly reflective, personal observations from Randa Abdel-Fatta, an ordinary Muslim in Australia:

“Do you want to know how it feels to be an Australian Muslim in the Australia of today?” . . . “Then turn on the television, open a newspaper. There will be a feature article analysing, deconstructing, theorising about Islam and Muslims in which your fellow Australians will be offered the chance to make sense of this phenomenon called ‘the Muslim” . . .

“This is what it means to be an Australian Muslim today. It is to try to live against the perception that one represents a synonym for terrorism and extremism” . . . “It is to see the faith you embrace with such conviction de led and defamed because acts that defy Islamic law and doctrine are still prefixed by the media with the word “Islamic” . . .

It is to have the reasonable, peaceful statements of your leaders ignored and the ignorant ravings of the minority splashed across the headlines. It is to be the topic of talkback radio rant and raves . . . “It is to come to accept that although atrocities are committed in the name of all religions around the world, it is Islam alone that will be judged by the actions of those who purport to be its followers.

It is to refuse to lay blame for the behaviour of so-called Christians at the feet of Christ because you respect the intent of Christ’s words and actions and because you know that even those acting in his name are misguided . . . “So what it means to be an Australian Muslim today is that you will often sit alone, in the silence of your hurt and fury, and wonder why it is so di cult for Islam, a religion followed by 1.5 billion people, all of whom cannot be uncivilised, unintelligent, immoral, unthinking dupes, to be treated with the same respect.”(Source: Religion and the Racial Discrimination Act: Don’t Muslims Also Deserve Protection? By Mariam Veiszadeh on ABC on 25 February 2015)

HOW BEST TO BRIDGE THE GAP OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND NON-MUSLIMS?

Australian Comedian Nazeem Hussain prescribes the best cure possible to overcome this sad state of a airs. She says: “One of the take home messages for me was that people really need to get out there and start meeting people from outside their own communities. I think the report really shows that when people have had interactions with others that instances of discrimination, I believe are a lot less, and I think that the public conversation around multiculturalism has clearly been positive over the years and it would be great to see that sort of leadership around conversations to do with refugees and asylum seekers as well, because clearly the facts aren’t really being presented appropriately.” (Source: Racial discrimination on rise in Australia: report on 21 Oct 2013)

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