FIGHTING ISLAMOPHOBIA: SAMPLE STRATEGIES

HOW TO RESPOND TO ISLAMOPHOBIA?

A good counter strategy when attacks get personal is to follow the example of a known TV personality, incidentally known for her own bigoted statements against ordinary Muslims and Islam. In August 2015 when Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was verbally abused by none other than Donald Trump, mocking her and questioning her professionalism on national TV and social media, Kelly who ran the second- highest-rated program in cable news in America stayed silent for almost a week only speaking up on her show “The Kelly File” where she said:

“I’ve decided not to respond . . .

Mr. Trump is an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate. That’s why he’s leading in the polls. Trump, who is the front-runner, will not apologize, and I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism. So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far.”

She then added, “This is a tough business, and it’s time now to move forward. And now, let’s get back to the news”. Ms. Kelly was praised for the way she handled the issue.

Clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, who counsels on bullying, was quoted in the local press saying:

“Research and experience in this field overwhelmingly maintains that you do not engage the bullying because fundamentally the bully is looking for that reinforcement for their tactics” he says.

Put another way, if you’re the victim of bullying, ignore the bully and don’t react. Soon enough, they will get tired of the lack of response and move to another target. (Source: Megyn Kelly’s Response to Donald Trump Is a Master Class in Handling Haters by Korin Miller, 12 August 2015, Yahoo News).

This says plenty about the best course of action when dogs bark: you leave them alone. You don’t bark back. Escalation is exactly what they want and therefore it should definitely not be given to them. Evidently, Ms. Kelly was right. Shortly thereafter, Trump shifted his nihilistic views towards the Mexicans, women and ordinary Muslims. The rest, is rather unfortunate history.

WHAT TO DO WHEN AN ISLAMOPHOBE IS INVITED TO SPEAK AT A UNIVERSITY GATHERING OR FORUM?

When invited to speak at universities and other events –

Islamophobes, atheists, bigots and war hawks do not always have to be boycotted but every effort should be made to stand up to them by challenging them to a pubic debate or at the very least, hold up a critical sign during their speech or write a rebuttal of their claims and distribute it at the event.

This is the beauty of “freedom of speech”. It works both ways! Heckling or boycotting them advances nothing for Muslims. They will always find another venue to help grow their following, if all we do is heckle and call for the boycotting their events. Instead, these events should be seen as opportunities for well-informed Muslims to reach out and speak up with a united voice against myths and false statements smearing Islam and ordinary Muslims.

HOW SHOULD YOUNG ANGRY MUSLIMS RESPOND TO ISLAMOPHOBIA?

Disgruntled youth and individuals who are angry should be advised to vent their frustrations by forming local or regional lobby group(s), peacefully protesting or writing op-eds letters to their local and regional newspapers, local district member of parliament or its equivalent and do everything possible to ensure each and every one of our voices are readily heard through civic engagement. If you are a constituent, set an example by writing letters to your representative. Sign a petition. If you are not a constituent, get registered as one.

Put simply, let your opinion be heard and let this be seen by your children.

Muslim youth and teenagers should also be encouraged to speak out “every time a white, middle-aged, Christian fundamentalist goes on an anti-abortion killing spree and the same bastards who demand that I bow and scrape to them over the Paris attacks don’t immediately condemn people of their own ilk. Sue me.” (Source: Moderate Muslim: Where Are All The Moderate White Christians Denouncing Planned Parenthood Shooting? By James Schlarmann, November 28, 2015, The Political Garbage Chute)

An exemplar example however was set by Tarek El-Messidi, 35, an American Muslim leader from Knoxville, Tennessee. Through his organisation Celebrate Mercy, which teaches about Muhammad [PBUH], he used social media to urge Muslims to send condolence letters to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed along with three others in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. The effort drew 7,700 letters from 115 countries, El-Messidi said . . . After this year’s killings in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, of three young American Muslims who had been focused on public service, El-Messidi helped create the “Feed Their Legacy” effort, which organized canned food drives in honor of the victims among mosques in 30 states. He said about 200,000 meals were provided for the poor . . . “The narrative is being defined for us, and we’re being de ned by these extremist acts and the poll numbers show that,” El-Messidi said.

“I personally do feel like condemning is an unfortunate necessity right now because our community is misunderstood. But I think that’s partially the Muslims’ fault because we’re not changing the narrative.

Condemning is just a Band-Aid solution. It feels like putting a Band-Aid over a tumor”. (Source: US Muslims struggle with how they should condemn extremism by Rachel Zoll, 6 December 2015, Associated Press)

For those of us who are both tech-savvy and equally editorially driven, consider writing for and developing a platform similar to Muslim Matters, a unique collaboration between bloggers and Muslim scholars bringing key issues affecting Muslims to the fore.

On a niche-scale but quickly attracting a strong following, MuslimGirl.net, which was established by 23-year-old Al-Khatahtbeh along with seven volunteer editors and more than 30 contributing writers, as the first mainstream media network by and for Muslim women.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh kicks off her speeches with a request to her audience: take out your phone and search “Muslim women” on Google Images . . . The experiment yields myriad images of faceless figures covered head to toe in black veils. Only the women’s eyes are visible – if they’re shown at all. Al-Khatahtbeh, who wears a hijab, says the pictures boggle folks in the crowd . . . “I always ask them: Do these Muslim women look like the Muslim women you know in real life? Do they look like me? Do they look like your friends? And the audience always says ‘no’ – it looks nothing like us,” Al-Khatahtbeh said in an interview . . . Fed up with that and other inaccurate portrayals of Islam, she launched news and lifestyle website MuslimGirl. The portal, which encourages Muslim women to speak up and covers topics ranging from Donald Trump’s proposed [nefarious and counterproductive] Muslim ban to modest workout outfits, logged 100 million hits in 2015. (Source: Meet The Rising Media Star Shattering Stereotypes About Muslims, Daniela Sirtori-Cortina, 17 October 2016, Forbes Magazine)

Granted, while we can’t solve terrorism with hashtags, memes, gifs and tweets, some online messages can define how society views Islam and ordinary Muslims, especially if it is liked, shared, reposted, and retweeted by world renowned politicians and celebrities or in some cases, an ordinary citizen:

In December 2015, when a self-professed Muslim attacked three passengers on the London Underground using what was described in the press as a 3-inch knife, he was quickly overpowered by the police and a non-Muslim passerby shouted “you ain’t no muslim bruv”, which quickly became a hashtag “#youaintnomuslimbruv” generating 100,000 tweets, going viral within hours and much more since. The passerby added, “He is angry terrorist organisations such as ISIS claim to represent Islam”.

After his comments came to symbolise London’s defiance in the face of terror attacks, [former] UK Prime Minister David Cameron praised the phrase as having “said it all better than I ever could” . . . Others, particularly proud Londoners, praised the hashtag itself – with Russ Burt saying: “#YouAintNoMuslimBruv – one man does more for community cohesion with one sentence than any government initiative.” (Source: Man who shouted ‘You ain’t no Muslim bruv’ was upset by people who make generalisations about Muslims by Samuel Osborne, 13 December 2015, The Independent)

THERE IS NO POINT PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO ISLAMOPHOBIA ONLINE.

The Columbia Journalism Review documented the “widespread” posting of such anti-Muslim memes over the last year, as well as the use of hashtags like #banislam, #killmuslims, #attackamosque, #bansharia and #islamisterror. Facebook and Twitter have become platforms where people who “actively believe in the extermination of Muslims . . . are not afraid to state their views in public,” according to the CJR report published last month. (Source: Let’s Talk About All That Anti- Muslim Garbage In Your Newsfeeds, Christopher Mathias, 6th October, 2016, The Huffington Post)

 Almost 7,000 “Islamophobic” tweets were sent, in English, every day in July worldwide, data seen by the BBC suggests. (Source: Islamophobic tweets ‘peaked in July’, Catrin Nye, 18 August 2016, BBC News)

HOW BEST TO FIGHT ISLAMOPHOBIA ONLINE?

For those who have to put up with cruel social media trolls, there is a lesson worth learning from Australian Muslim Susan Carland who has been named one of 500 most in influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

Tired of receiving hate-filled messages on social media, Ms. Carland and her husband, Waleed Aly vowed to donate $1 to charity for every hate-filled tweet she receives since her previous attempts to engage, block or simply ignore them did not seem to be going anywhere.

She added, “I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way”, pledging to donate the proceeds to “UNICEF, as so often they were assisting children who were in horrific situations that were the direct outcome of hate – war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence. These children seemed like the natural recipients for the antidote to hate”, she said. (Source: Koran guided me in how to turn tweets from trolls into a force for good, 13 November 2015, Susan Carland, Sydney Morning Herald)

BUT THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET.

At its very basic level, the power of the internet should not be underestimated. After all, it was the uproar on Twitter and Facebook that forced global media platforms to look into the shootings of three Muslim students at UNC-Chapel Hill in February 2015, which in turn led to widespread condemnation of mainstream media.

While the news of the shootings by Craig Stephen Hicks, an anti-theist who frequently posted anti-religious messages on social media, was ignored for 17-long hours by all leading print, TV and online news sites – they were all forced to not only report the news albeit late but a number of news platforms like the Independent and Huffington Post subsequently published articles examining why there was an apparent double standard when it comes to reporting news events where Muslims were the victims and an atheist a perpetrator.

It is also through hashtag activism in early 2017 that brought the abhorring issue of police brutality in French society to the forefront, almost as if the country only recently discovered the banal cruelty of police brutality especially towards poor, minorities and blacks, something that has existed for decades:

Theo Luhaka, 22 had attempted to intervene when a friend of his was the victim of a violent identity check. The police not only subjected him to racists insults but physically assaulted him and pushed a baton at least 10cm into his rectum, a horrendous YouTube video secretly recorded the event from a distance documenting the irrefutable terror.

This quickly brought back memories of the 2005 banielue riots when: Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, two teenagers who had done nothing wrong, were chased by police officers, hid in an electrical substation and were electrocuted. An unprecedented wave of unrest shook France for three weeks. (Source: When will France admit that police racism is systemic?, Rokhaya Diallo, March 2017, The Guardian)

 Therefore, do not discount the power of social media and technology given its penetrating reach whatever one’s social or economic strata.

THE KEY STRATEGY IS TO FOCUS ON SOCIAL MEDIA THEN?

No, there is a world beyond online social media therefore our keyboard warriors need to sometimes briefly step away from their laptops and press for real, tangible solutions to combat racism and division, especially since an online post alone, is not likely to change the discrimination tactics facing ordinary Muslim communities today.

In essence, logging into social media sites – posting, liking and forwarding messages and video clips is nowhere nearly enough. A lot more needs to be done – in a coordinated, organised fashion by ordinary Muslims around the world.

 

GLOBAL BRANDBUILDING FOR MUSLIMS AND ISLAM

APART FROM DAWAH, HOW CAN ORDINARY MUSLIMS HELP BUILD A GLOBAL BRAND FOR ISLAM AND ORDINARY MUSLIMS?

From regularly volunteering at a local nursing home, helping to deliver food to homeless families or teaching a young person to read to helping out at local charities such as soup kitchens, food bank, homeless shelter and contributing towards clothes and food distribution or something as simple as shoveling neighbours’ driveways or giving blood at least once in your lifetime, if not more, there are many ways to illustrate what it truly means to be a Muslim.

The point is, we Muslims have to make it difficult for others to stereotype or distrust people they actually know. At present, most of us are regrettably little more than sitting ducks.

In an incredible speech that did not receive as much coverage as it rightfully deserved, the Canadian Imam who delivered a powerful eulogy for the six Muslim victims of a deluded white supremacist killing outside a Quebec (Canada) mosque in late January 2017 said:

Our Prophet was persecuted, thrown out of his town. He was alone. Eight years after that he came back to this town with 10,000 people. Less than two years after that, when he did the last pilgrimage in life, he was accompanied with 120,000 people. From where did these 120,000 people come from in a period of 10 years? It was the same people who were his enemies. The people who wanted to kill him. The people who were persecuting him and his companions and his sympathizers . . . He transformed his enemies into friends and followers. We don’t have enemies. I repeat we do not have enemies. We have some people who don’t know us. It should be easier to explain to these people who do not know us, it is easier to let them know who we are. (Source: Translated and adapted version of the eulogy, which Imam Hassan Guillet delivered for the Québec mosque shooting victims)

Given such, it may be worthwhile exploring some out-of-the-box approach to being a visible Muslim today: Hundreds of American Muslims around the country joined forces to put their faith into action . . . At least 23 teams from mosques, Muslim student clubs, and faith-based non-profits signed up to serve in soup kitchens across the country for the first National Muslim Soup Kitchen Day. In total, the volunteers cooked and distributed more than 3,000 meals throughout the day in New York, Florida, Alabama, and seven other states, according to the Muslim Soup Kitchen Project (MSKP), the New York-based organization that coordinated the national event . . . 200 volunteers signed up as cooks, drivers, and soup kitchen servers. They helped out at 8 local shelters and at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s Farm. (Source: American Muslims Join Forces For National Muslim Soup Kitchen Day by Carol Kuruvilla, 4 May 2016, Huffington Post)

Another example is one of how Muslims bandied together in December 2015 when American Muslims responded to the attack in San Bernardino with philanthropy. The fundraising campaign, Muslims United for San Bernardino Families, cited a Qur’anic verse and Hadith. It collected more than US$200,000 within seven days – the equivalent of US$1,000 an hour . . . In July 2015, after an American Muslim with a history of mental illness murdered five victims in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the local Muslim community raised US$20,000 for their families . . . On July 4th, as Americans celebrated their country’s birth- day at barbeques, parks and beaches, American Muslims led by the Islamic Society of Central Jersey – observing a Ramadan fast from sunrise to sunset – will gather at one of the state’s largest mosques to prepare 600 meals for the poor and homeless. (Source: American Muslims Show Humanitarian Islam, Engy Abdelkader, 28 June 2016, Huffington Post)

 As yet another example: when several African American churches burned to the ground last summer [in 2015] in the wake of the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, news outlets noted that a Muslim organization raised more than US$100,070 to help the congregations rebuild – a higher sum than several Christian organizations accumulated in the same time period.

The lead organizer for the effort? Faatimah Knight, a Zaytuna graduate, America’s First Accredited Muslim College.(Source: What It’s Like To Attend America’s First Accredited Muslim College by Jack Jenkins, 18 April 2016, Think Progress)

Or contemplate local efforts in Michigan, with perhaps the largest Muslim community, led by the Michigan Muslim Community Council. When the water supply in Flint, Michigan, was found to be toxic, the state’s Muslims worked with members of other religions to aid distressed citizens while state and local officials failed. The American Muslim response to the water crises in Flint – including more than US$300,000 and 1,000,000 bottles of water in donations – made local, national and international news (Source: American Muslims Show Humanitarian Islam, Engy Abdelkader, 28 June 2016, Huffington Post) although the mainstream news media rarely captures the civil engagement of Muslims.

“They were very helpful,” says Lee Anne Walters, a Flint woman who blew the whistle on the contamination. “It was great seeing every- one come together”. (Source: Albert Hunt: U.S. Muslims are terror victims too, Albert Hunt, 21 June 2016, Bloomberg View)

On the healthcare front and joining at least 25 free clinics nation- wide run primarily by Muslim volunteers, according to the American Muslim Health Professionals’ task force on health a affordability: The American Muslim Community Center in Orlando, Florida, has converted an old doctor’s office into a free clinic for uninsured families and people in need . . . “Our goal is to serve humanity – no strings attached. Everyone is welcome,” Atif Fareed, AMCC chairman, told the Orlando Sentinel. “We have over 40 physicians who come to our mosque, and we have 11 of them signed up to volunteer here. So we are very, very blessed.” . . . The facility, which will only be open on Fridays for the time-being, will offer general health care to anyone who lives in Central Florida who is uninsured and lives below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This equates to individuals who make $23,760 or families that make $48,600 or less a year . . . Free health care facilities run by Muslim Americans have been sprouting up all over the nation, such as in Jacksonville, Florida; Muscoy, California; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, just to name a few. (Source: This Muslim-Run Clinic Offers Free Health Care To Those In Need, Elyse Wanshel, 18 January 2017, Huffington Post)

Over in the UK, London Muslim students regularly run huge home- less drives providing medical checks, food and haircuts, as well as litter picking in the streets of the capital. Islamic Relief Scotland’s Winter Warm campaign distributed over 350 bags containing hats, scarves and gloves this year alone in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh over the Christmas period in 2016. The East London mosque, in conjunction with Muslim Aid meanwhile distributed 10 tonnes of food to London’s homeless over the December holiday season, collectively playing their role in the local society they live in.

Such effort also has other multi-fold benefits. While we as parents allocate a great deal of time encouraging our children to learn about Islam, we can model random acts of kindness for our children by committing acts of goodness in their presence.

The idea of getting to know your neighbours, donating to charity, participating in beach cleanups, opening a door for strangers, helping an elderly on the street or public transport remind children of the importance, sense of peace and happiness that lies in doing good. There can be no better way of laying the foundation of fighting helplessness and evil via Islam than through our own positive actions.

SHOULD CHARITY BE GIVEN IN STEALTH OR IN PUBLIC?

While Muslims are taught charity given in stealth has more value in Islam, for as long as the intention is not the shameless display of wealth, it is indeed high time for ordinary Muslims to start looking at the bigger picture. Put crudely, there is a somewhat limited point having a mosque in a Western society when Muslims have zero visibility in the local community.

In terms of media coverage and in reaction to the negative coverage of Muslims, many outlets seem to feel a need to overcompensate. Whenever a Muslim is doing something normal or “good” for society, it is as if journalists are stunned. Hannah Allam, a journalist at McClatchy, summed up this issue in a tweet last year: Anti-Muslim hostility has led to a well-meaning but sad genre of corrective journalism that says “Look at this Muslim doing a normal thing!”, 12:10 AM – 30 Nov 2016 (Source: What Covering Hate As A Muslim Journalist Taught Me About The Media, Rowaida Abdelaziz, 23 January 2017, The Huffington Post)

The key therefore is to strike a balance by avoiding a shameless display of wealth and thus the need to dispense of the so-called “corrective journalism” about ordinary Muslims, charity and Islam

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MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES REMAIN BACKWARDS

BY NOT UPDATING ISLAM WITH THE TIMES, MUSLIMS ARE FALLING BEHIND.

It was the Islamic injunctions, which first led to the Islamic Golden Age from the eighth and thirteenth centuries, or for over 500 years. In fact, the real reason many so-called Islamic countries are falling behind today is precisely because Muslims and the autocratic governments in power are not faithfully following Islamic injunctions related to justice, social equality and knowledge seeking for all gender and background, rich and poor.

Also, the history of Western democracies should not be forgotten:

The history of their own country [America] began with the genocidal destruction of Native Americans, continued with the despicable history of African slavery, and at the heights of their technological achievements with dropping an atom bomb on Japan. (Source: The liberal roots of Islamophobia, Hamid Dabashi, 3 March 2017, Alajzeera.com) Therefore with time and hopefully with a lot less bloodshed, Muslim-majority countries will re-emerge economically.

WHEN DID THE MUSLIM DECLINE START AND WHY IS IT CONTINUING?

Since Muslims ruled Andalusia, followers of Islam have witnessed one historical defeat after another, the last being the demise of the 600-year Ottoman empire. In more modern history, Arabs have witnessed political defeats that left Palestine under Israeli military control, Syria and Egypt ceding territory in the six-day war and Iraq defeated twice by an US-led coalition that included Arab allies. (Source: The only way to defeat Islamic State is to give young Arabs hope, Daoud Kuttab, 27 July 2016, The Guardian)

[One ought to] . . . be aware that Middle Eastern nations have repeatedly been subjected to humiliating wars of invasion, conquest and expropriation that have killed millions of people. (Source: Atheism, Islam and liberalism: This is what we are really fighting about on 12 Oct 2014 by Andrew O’Hehir, Salon)

© 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

“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)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

“REFORMED” OR EX-MUSLIMS

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MUSLIM ISLAMOPHOBE.

There are indeed some ex-Muslims and “reformed” Muslims among us who speak and publish misinformed notions about Islam and Muslims. To complicate the murky waters, they may even publicly denounce well- known Islamophobes who unashamedly misrepresents facts about Islam and Muslims in their own version of unadulterated hatred but ultimately, their words and shared values are as aligned as it can be, making them Muslim Islamophobes from among us – people with Muslim names.

Not just Sajid Tarar, who heads up Muslims for Donald Trump or Palestine-born, Washington-based immigration lawyer, Kamal Nawash, who is just as fond of Trump along with his hate-mongering acolytes or up to 4 percent of registered Muslim voters who casted their ballots for none other than Trump, according to a survey conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in October 2016.

Regrettably, these individuals and groups have curiously given the appearance of normalcy to a President that has thus far relied on dog- whistle politics when it comes to Islam and ordinary Muslims, providing the Trump administration with a token cover for their ongoing bigotry against minorities, admittedly not just Muslims.

While it is easy to point the finger at non-Muslims who level unfair criticisms about Islam and promote suspicions of ordinary Muslims but to truly combat Islamophobia, it is important we acknowledge the presence of such misguided self-professed “reformed” Muslims in our midst.

“Muslims” who are unwitting allies of barbaric monsters like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (reportedly dead but regardless) whose three-pronged objective apart from (I) wrecking global carnage is to divide Muslims against each other similar: (II) to individuals with Muslim names in the West whose actions such as supporting fascist Trump who does not see a problem brazenly smearing all Muslims with the taint of extremism via misinformation and thus, has contributed greatly to “mainstreaming Islamophobia”; & (III) or individuals with Muslim names who promote falsities such as “noxious ideas embraced by ISIS are [somehow] shielded within our medieval texts” by cherry picking verses, ironically ignoring Qur’an 3:8 which refers to these people as “perverse” by declaring, “. . . those in whose hearts is perversity seek discord and wrong interpretation of [the Qur’an].”

BUT “REFORMED” MUSLIMS HELP ORDINARY MUSLIMS.

Writers and public speakers that rely on one-dimensional thinking and who claim to be Muslims or “former” or “reformed” Muslims including Ali Ayaan Hirshi, Fouad Ajami and some others with Muslim names who often find themselves in this ever-expanding paradigm fall within this category but:

“While they attempt to couch their language in the terms of pure critique of religious thought, in practice they exhibit many of the same tendencies toward generalisation & ethno-racial condescension as did their predecessors, particularly in their descriptions of Muslims”. (Source: Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists on 2 April 2013 by Murtaza Hussain, Aljazeera) however it is important to point out it is dishonest to suggest all former Muslims are against Muslims and Islam.

There are many ex-Muslims who no longer practice Islam but do not go out of their way to pick on Muslims or unfairly criticise Islam or any other religion. Similarly, there are atheists that are tolerant and some that are not. In essence, there is no one size that fits all.

BUT “REFORMED” MUSLIMS ARE BRAVE TO POINT OUT WHAT MOST ISLAMIC LEADERS ARE OFTEN TOO SHY TO ACKNOWLEDGE.

False.
These Muslim activists are all deeply concerned about the future of Islam if left in the ownership of its most extreme adherents. In aligning themselves with supporters of the Islam-hostile industry, as part of a high-risk attempt to enact change in how Islam is practised and perceived, they have earned the rancour and distrust of the majority of Muslims . . . In the end, the embrace of the Islamophobia industry is an untrustworthy one. Muslim activists who hope to create meaningful dialogue will find their experiences exploited by a system that, in truth, cares little for meaningful dialogue – in the fine words of Bina Shah, an opinion writer for the International New York Times in an article titled “The high-risk strategy of Muslim reformers. From Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Maajid Nawaz, the Islamophobia industry preys on the painful experiences of Muslim” by Bina Shah, 25 September 2015.

WHAT DO “REFORMED” MUSLIMS HAVE TO GAIN FROM CRITICISING MUSLIMS?

Like renowned Islamophobes today, these former or “reformed” Muslims and Islamophobes depend on the multi-million dollar Islamophobia network for their book sales, speaking engagements and think-tank funding, not so different from the methods used by the Islamophobes at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) who were only concerned about maintaining their lifestyle through the business of trade and tourism via false idol worship from across the Arabian peninsula into Mecca.

In fact, the Islamophobes at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) are known to have tried offering him gold equivalent to his weight and even used his uncle, Abu Talib as an intermediary for negotiations (similar to how funding, grants and public spotlight is offered to certain “reformed Muslims” with anti-Islam views today).

When all else failed including verbal and physical threats – Abu Jahal, one of the leaders or his most vocal opponent devised a plot nominating a strong person from each tribe to be given a sharp sword to assassinate Muhammad (PBUH). By doing so, the blood would be on all tribes and given how the small group of Muslims would not be able to fight back against all tribes, they would be forced to take blood money (cash settlement), which the wealthy Islamophobes would have been very happy to pay and settle to get rid of their problem.

Similarly today, the misinformation campaign includes the planting of false myths about many misinterpreted beliefs in Islam by certain “reformed Muslims” who ally themselves to the agenda of the anti-Islam industry. This being one such strategy employed to plant the seeds of division among Muslims. It is one thing to discredit or correct a wrong stated by an Islamophobe. It is a whole new level when the smearing and purposeful misinformation is spewed by a former or “reformed” Muslim.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

DEFINING ISLAMOPHOBIA

“PHOBIA” IS DEFINED AS FEAR – SO ISLAMOPHOBIA IS FEAR OF ISLAM. GIVEN ALL THAT IS HAPPENING, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE FEAR OF ISLAM OR ISLAMOPHOBIA?

Fear of Islam is not the problem. The problem occurs when this hatred cloaked in fear becomes irrational in spite of the real, easily verifiable facts available about Islam and ordinary Muslims today from respectable, independent and best selling non-Muslim sources, that are often overlooked.

By ignoring these indisputable facts and relying instead on hate-inciting, fear mongering sources, we are left with irrational Islamophobia, which is the irrational hatred veiled as fear for Islam and ordinary Muslims.

SO CRITICISING ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IS ISLAMOPHOBIA.

No, not really.
In the words of a widely respected American Jew on the definition of Islamophobia:
 Criticism of Islam is not an Islamophobic act in itself, so long as that criticism is accompanied with some kind of intellectual rigour. An Islamophobic act is one that portrays Islam, and therefore Muslims, as a threat.

Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, overturn our democratic institutions, and then implement Sharia. That’s Islamophobia, and no different than saying, “Jews are plotting to overtake the world,” which it was, not coincidently, a Nazi generated trope. (Source: Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, 8 April 2017, CJ Werleman, Muslim Press)

MUSLIMS HAVE AN ENLARGED SENSE OF VICTIMHOOD AND LOVE TO EXAGGERATE ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS.

With over 101 anti-Muslim hate groups in America, out of 917 total hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organi- zation that tracks hate crimes in the country, anti-Muslim hate crimes and varying forms of discrimination stemming from public policy and political speech is real.

“Anti-Islamic rhetoric is not difficult to come by . . . It’s unfortunately prolific and so numerous that I didn’t even bother to find examples. You can just Google it.” (Source: Stop Criminalizing Children of Color for Being Children by Heather Hamel, 22 September 2015, The Huffington Post)

In the words of “The Islamophobia Project” started by the Huffington Post: “It’s when a Muslim mom tells her daughter to maybe not wear the hijab today. It’s a Muslim father having to explain to his children that no, they’re citizens, they can’t be deported. It’s how almost every Muslim in a movie is depicted as a terrorist, and it’s why cable news channels only ask Muslims if they condemn terrorism”. (Source: 6 Rules Of Islamophobia In America, Christopher Mathias, 23 January 2017, The Huffington Post)

BUT YOU MUSLIMS CRY FOUL AND SCREAM ISLAMOPHOBIA AT EVERY TURN.

Those that scream “Islamophobia” as soon as anything critical is leveled at Muslims are unfortunately stumbling down the same dark alleyway the power brokers within the Holocaust industry trail-blazed decades ago. Granted, the media discourse over Islam and ordinary Muslims today indeed resembles the manner in which Jews were vilified a hundred years ago but not all negative criticisms directed towards ordinary Muslims should be labelled Islamophobia.

Irrational Islamophobia is not about criticising Islam and Muslims which everyone is free to engage in but is about repeating false data and information in written, verbal or audio form – already repeatedly discredited by reputable, credible scholars, academics and experts and not disseminated by fear-mongering, hate-inciting talking heads and publicity hungry talk-show hosts.

Put simply, criticising ordinary Muslims isn’t Islamophobia however repeating already discredited statements and myths about Muslims and Islam is. As French philosopher Albert Camus once said: “Misnaming things adds to the misfortunes of the world”.

Therefore an Islamophobe is someone who prefers to incite hatred and fear in the hearts and minds of people by conflating fact with hyperbole fiction. Not someone who criticises Muslims.

HOW CAN MUSLIMS EVER COMPARE THEMSELVES TO WHAT THE JEWS WENT THROUGH 100 YEARS AGO?

Prior to the Holocaust, the Nazi propaganda machine spoke about the “Jewish problem” and how allegedly the Jewish community was organised in a diabolical scheme for world domination, and that Jews were liars and could not be trusted or be loyal to the state. Those are verbatim the same arguments that we hear made against Muslims today and which far too many Americans [and Europeans] find acceptable. It is the same hate with a new target . . In both cases, masses of otherwise reasonable people, were and are misled by leaders to demonize an entire group of people and portray them as a threat. The “threat” is fabricated using outright lies, half-truths, and double standards. (Source: Facts about Muslim faith ignored as fear-mongering, fabrications spread by Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida 9 March 2016, Brandenton Herald)

 In the words of a notable Australian Jew and a prolific writer, CJ Werleman:

Look back at Nazi Germany – they didn’t start killing Jews on day one. The German public would’ve never accepted systematic violence against Jews in 1932. It took eight years of unrelenting anti-Semitism in the media and elsewhere before crimes against Jewish populations became normal and acceptable behavior. (Source: Islamophobes perpetuate the myth that Muslims are plotting to overtake the West, 8 April 2017, Muslim Press)

 Therefore when examined closely, it becomes clear the same misinformation strategy was used on the Jews and thus, enabled otherwise normal human beings to collaborate with the Nazis and starve, torture and kill millions of innocent Jews by stripping away the individuality of every Jew and manufacture chambers full of inexplicable hatred into death. History must not repeat itself.

OKAY BUT THE ISRAELIS ARE SOMETIMES KNOWN TO DEFLECT ACCOUNTABILITY BY LABELLING ANY CRITICISM AS ANTI-SEMITIC. AREN’T MUSLIMS TODAY DOING THE SAME THING?

Has this accusation ever stopped any self-respecting media platforms from reigning in their criticisms about Islam or Muhammad (PBUH)? Never. In fact, how many credible and unbiased media reports can you find that attest to how the media is failing to shine the spotlight on Islam today? None.

If there is one religion that receives far too much unfair, unbalanced and negative coverage, it is Islam. As a result, you are now beginning to find small but emerging number of articles and news clips criticising the media for unfairly putting the spotlight only on Islam and brushing all ordinary Muslims with the same tar – and in comparison, less so on people of other faiths, states, ideologies and failed foreign policies. Therefore the claim that Muslims are shielding themselves behind the accusation of calling its critic, “bigots and Islamophobes” carries little factual merits.

Little not zero factual merits – because there are admittedly instances where bigotry and Islamophobia are exploited by some so-called Muslim countries to deflect criticism for discriminatory laws in places like Saudi Arabia, (Aceh) Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere. Often times, these laws are falsely implemented in the name of Islam for political expediency and for this, so-called Muslim-majority countries need to be held to account and foreign media coverage ought to be vigorous and balance.

“As secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: “The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom”. (Source: Why should I respect these oppressive religions? on 28 January 2009 by Johann Hari, The Independent)

WHY THEN DOES IT SEEM MUSLIMS ARE USING ISLAMOPHOBIA AS A CATCH ALL PHRASE TO SILENCE ANYONE CRITICAL OF ISLAM AND MUSLIMS?

Islamophobia is to repeat previously discredited myths and conflating fact with fiction when it comes to Muslims and Islam. Criticising Muslims is not Islamophobia nor is criticising a Muslim-majority country Islamophobia.

Where even the slightest signs of “Islamophobia” misuse appears, especially by some Muslim-majority countries in cases related to apostasy, blasphemy or honour killings among other issues, ordinary Muslims young and old, male and female should openly condemn these Muslim-majority countries for misrepresenting Islamic shariah (for example, jailing victims of rape) and tailoring their beliefs, especially if they ever tried deflecting any form of criticism by misusing the shield of Islamophobia.

This is all the more the case even if this means one runs the risk of being labeled a “self-hating Muslim”. Besides, how can we, ordinary Muslims not condemn something that is in direct contradiction to the decisions taken by none other than Muhammad (PBUH) himself?

In his lifetime, not a single person was hanged, beheaded or killed as a result of apostasy and blasphemy so whoever does it now (in the absence of a true, equitable Islamic state) cannot possibly be following the religion of Muhammad (PBUH), says unqualified sheikh yours truly, given how this should no doubt be the start and end of an irrefutable argument.

SO IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CRITICISE ISLAM, MUSLIMS AND MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES WITHOUT BEING ACCUSED OF HATING EVERY MUSLIM?

Granted, the idea behind Islamophobia can sometimes be abused by some Muslim-majority countries to shield themselves from criticism of their misuse of Islamic shariah (opinion of Islamic law) for example, in matters relating to women’ rights to drive or open a bank account to beheadings, apostasy and blasphemy.

Often times, the action of these so-called Islamic countries is a deviation from the true teachings of Islam and yet by employing the banner of Islamophobia, they dishonestly deflect criticisms directed at them, straight out of the playbook pioneered by generation after generation of astute politicians within the State of Israel. Politicians who will deflect any criticism against Israel wasting no time labelling it as an act of Anti-Semitism instead of what it actually is: Criticism of Israel’s foreign policy when it comes to the illegal occupation, settlement expansion and extra-judicial killings of ordinary indigenous Palestinians among a long list of other injustices.

On both fronts, this should be roundly condemned by ordinary Muslims the world over.

BEING MUSLIM IS A NOT A RACE SO WHEN CRITICISING MUSLIMS, HOW CAN WE BE BRANDED RACIST?

Yes, Islam itself as a religion does not denote a race since Muslims come from almost every racial and ethnic grouping in the world. There are Indonesians Muslims as well as Arabs, Chinese, Australians, Indians, Africans, Turks, Canadians, Hispanics as well as white Americans and Europeans among countless of other ethnicities that represent Islam today but when it comes to Islam and Muslims, statements made on TV and in news report are usually sensational or distorted and reporting is often deeply “racist”. The actions of a certain race for example Arabs, is evenly applied on all other Muslims across the world. Therefore, “racist” not in the conventional sense given how not a single race can represent Islam or Muslims.

In the words of Dr. Anne Aly, Australia’s first female Muslim MP who says it best:

Because (attacks on Muslims) have the same motivations as racism and the same impacts of racism. If you look at its mobilisers then you would consider hate speech against Muslims, racism. (Source: This Muslim Politician Nailed Why The “Islam Is Not A Race” Argument Doesn’t Work Is it racist?, Mark Di Stefano, 2 April 2017, BuzzFeed)

WHY WOULD ANY RESPECTED AND WIDELY FOLLOWED CELEBRITY, POLITICIAN, TV ANCHOR OR AUTHOR LIE ABOUT MUSLIMS AND ISLAM?

According to Fear, Inc., 2.0, an in-depth report published by the Center for American Progress, there are organizations in the United States with clear malevolent motives, which they in fact often openly state. These have to do with their fundamental desire for more aggressive U.S. foreign policies and providing the rationale for the ever-growing national security state.

In fact, the most common tactic of Islamophobes is to use the most extreme of examples to get attention and solicit funds. Others unapologetically court controversy to raise their TV or radio ratings, sell more books, increase social media following or secure the media limelight to gain lucrative speaking engagements. Rarely does it matter the statements are based on lies, paraded as facts. It is simply about sensationalism and generating more views for the website, media platform or other wealth generating tool that is, books, talk-shows or other publicity platforms.

In fact, the more outrageous and belligerent a commentator is these days, the higher the following of that individual. The rarely unspoken reason to make such hate-filled, often debunked controversial statements is to boost the sale of his or her books or to facilitate a spike in his or her TV or radio ratings, if not run for the office of the President of the United States, as evidenced by recent events.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS AND KNOWN STRATEGY OF AN ISLAMOPHOBE?

A leading number of them may outwardly seem perfectly ordinary, eloquent and even funny but in fact hold views that are out of touch with reality, inhumanely ignorant and toxic. Since a lie told often enough ends up feeling true, the tactic of repeating widely debunked anti-Islamic rhetoric and Islamophobic trope is the most effective form of politically-useful bigotry employed by these individuals for cheap applause.

Relying on a deceptive and dishonest propaganda strategy focusing on a broad range of Islamic and non-Islamic issues, ranging from feminist movements, terrorism, Islam and Christianity, these hatemongers peddle negative, unqualified and misinformed messages to sow discontent and fear in the hearts and minds of non-Muslims who watch and follow their programmes down the rabbit hole of unjustified assumptions and disastrous conclusions, implicitly backing the anti-Muslim bigotry – all in the name of bottomless dumbing down entertainment.

Serving as examples, an anti-Muslim hate group might purchase advertising space for anti-Islam messages but when the publisher rejects the business on account of its hateful content, the group will then lead a suit for allegedly violating their free speech rights, as part of its lawfare strategy. Regardless of who wins the legal challenge, the controversy generates the much-coveted publicity. Soon after the case is dismissed in the local court, little time is wasted spinning the outcome as “a rigged system” or the absurd, “victory for Shariah in America”.

Other common methods include “self-anointed activists” fighting against “creeping Shariah” by obstructing the building of community centers and mosques, and dragging town hall meetings into court rooms so as to deliberate anti-Islam talking points in the court of law. Even in cases where religious equality perseveres and the case is thrown out of court, the endgame of the Islamophobia network is to pollute the public discourse by conflating a tinge of facts with gallons of misinformation and when handed a loss, disreputably claim “in infiltration of Islam” or “victory of jihad”, paying zero attention to the misuse of words and its real meanings.

Last but not least is the ultimate red herring strategy, which is a nationwide campaign to stop Shariah law from ever being introduced in countries like America by enacting new statutes or constitutional amendments to prevent the introduction of non-American or British laws. Never mind how Shariah law dictates a Muslim should obey the law of the country they live in, thus advocating nothing short of strong national pride but this is beside the point. The end-goal is to defame Muslims and Islam through ballot and votes, using sheer paranoia and red herring defeating a non-existent threat and riding the wave of publicity from the news coverage it generates.

BUT MUSLIMS WANT THE SHARIAH LAW TO REPLACE LAWS IN THE WEST.

The fear of Shariah law in the West is completely unwarranted and a total red herring, best illustrating how the irrational Islamophobia industry thrives by spreading untruths about Islam and beliefs of ordinary Muslims.  In Islam, Muslims follow the Qur’an (divine revelation) and Hadiths (narrated sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), making them legally binding texts for all Muslims.

Meanwhile, Shariah (law opined by Islamic scholars based on their understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith) is the interpretation of statements and principles from the Qur’an and Hadith and varies from place to place. It covers marriage, divorce, inheritance and punishments for criminal offenses among a divergent range of issues. Every verdict, is however open to interpretation. Not only do ordinary Muslims from different countries across the world sometimes have a different Shariah opinion on a single given subject, scholars them- selves can reach widely different conclusions based on their understanding of the Qur’an and Hadiths.

As an example, Shariah calls for Muslims to be honest, be kind to orphans and widows and donate money to charity. On these matters, there is of course less room to manoeuvre since every Muslim is expected to be nothing short of being honest, kind and donate as much as possible to the poor. Therefore, when a Muslim is kind and honest and gives money to charity, he is not only following the Qur’an and Hadith but also following the Shariah.

Put another way, to ask Muslims to disavow Shariah is like asking a Christian to renounce the Bible because for example it calls for women to be stoned to death if she is not a virgin at the time of the wedding. (Source: Deuteronomy 22:13–21) Shariah also provides a framework under which circumstances a Muslim is allowed to divorce, participate in a war and decide on inheritance matters. Here, opinions can be diver- gent given the number of factors that could come into play. You will therefore not find a single book on Shariah because the rulings vary from country to country influenced by social, economic and cultural factors.

Like the tax law of a given country, only specialists that is, Islamic scholars with in-depth knowledge of both the Qur’an and Hadith are best able to diagnose the best Shariah law for a given situation. Again, these non-binding rulings different from country to country.

Last but not least, a Muslim is divinely instructed in the Qur’an to abide by the rules of the country in which they live (4:59), which in effect nullifies any argument to sidestep local laws in place for one’s interpretation of Shariah law.

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