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“Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close”: Guess. Nope. Guess Again. And Again…

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.

And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?

Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. 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 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 fill 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.

Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.

That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.

Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, December 25, 2015

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Muslims, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Not The Worldview Of Most Americans”: Donald Trump Ushers In A New Era Of Pitchfork Populism

Donald Trump became the driving force in U.S. politics by giving voice to anger, fear and resentment that were already there, just below the surface, waiting for their moment and messenger.

At present, Trump’s target is any believer in Islam who seeks to enter the United States. Back in June, he launched his campaign with invective toward any Latino immigrant living in this country without documents. He attacks President Obama less for his policies than for his identity — not for what the president does but for who he is. Trump has made himself the champion of a fading, embattled “us” in a life-or-death struggle against a swarming, threatening “them.”

The blustery billionaire’s “us” is nowhere near a majority of the U.S. electorate, but it might be enough to win him the Republican nomination for president. And even if he falls short, the forces he has loosed will not easily be tamped down.

Trump’s rally Monday in Mount Pleasant, S.C., was a lesson in what his campaign is really about. Just hours earlier, he had issued a statement saying all Muslims should be barred entry to the United States in light of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist rampage. The subtext was clear: All Muslims are potential terrorists. We have to keep them out.

Some commentators pronounced, for the umpteenth time, that “Trump has finally gone too far.” But the Mount Pleasant crowd apparently thought otherwise.

“I wrote something today that I think is very very salient, very important and probably not politically correct, but I don’t care,” Trump said. Then he read his no-Muslims statement and the crowd responded with a huge, raucous ovation.

And Muslims were not his only target at that rally. He railed at the journalists covering the event, pointing them out at the back of the room and calling them “scum” for supposedly never showing how big his crowds are. He also focused the crowd’s attention on Black Lives Matter protesters in the back of the room, declaring that they should be ejected but treated gently.

Trump’s audience in Mount Pleasant appeared to be overwhelmingly white. If it mirrored his support base in the polls, it was also older and less educated than the Republican electorate as a whole. A vastly wealthy tycoon who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and lives in a Manhattan penthouse has somehow become the unlikely spokesman for a segment of voters who feel most threatened by what the nation has become.

Demographic change means that whites will no longer be the majority by the middle of the century. When you call the electric company to pay a bill, you’re asked to push as a button “ para continuar en español .” Incomes are stagnant except for those at the very top; manufacturing jobs are gone; and if you don’t have a college degree, you’re trapped on the wrong side of the wall between middle-class comfort and lower-class misery.

To add insult to injury, serving his second term as president is a black man who was educated at Ivy League schools and whose father was a Muslim. For Trump’s supporters, it is hard to imagine a more perfect target for fear and loathing.

The people at Trump’s rallies do not necessarily believe he will do all the things he promises. Is it really possible to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants? Will Mexico really pay for building an impenetrable wall along the border? Is it legally or practically feasible to identify and turn back every Muslim seeking entry to the country? Is a pledge to “bomb the s—” out of the Islamic State any different from what Obama is already doing or any more likely to prevent another terrorist attack?

It’s not that Trump will do the impossible, it’s that he might do something .

Trump gives unfiltered voice to the anger and frustration some Americans feel. When he says he refuses to be “politically correct,” what he means is that he rejects the traditional constraints of public discourse. He doesn’t chastise his supporters for racism, nativism or religious bigotry; instead, he validates such views, bringing them out of the closet where they had been hiding.

Whatever happens to Trump’s candidacy, he has exposed a kind of rage that we haven’t seen in many years. His pitchfork populism is not the worldview of most Americans, to be sure. But it is likely to remain a significant political force — even if the Republican establishment somehow quashes the Trump rebellion.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 10, 2015

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Voters, Muslims | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“America Needs To Get A Grip”: Want Less Terrorism? Start By Rejecting Trump’s Crusade

America needs to get a grip.

Since the slaughter of 14 innocents by two radicalized Muslim terrorists in San Bernardino, California, common sense has been a collateral casualty. Leading a wave of hysteria has been Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with his harebrained ideas for denying various civil liberties to Muslims.

None of them would pass constitutional muster, thank goodness, and while his diatribes have found fertile ground among his party’s base, the Republican establishment has begun to push back against Trump.

That’s good sign, because we do have a terrorism problem that requires clear thinking and sober judgment. Our actions and policies must be grounded in accurate and detailed information. A report that received relatively little press at the time of its release in early December deserves a spotlight.

It’s far from comforting. The main message is that there is no snapshot profile to identify the jihadist on the block. That fact alone renders much of the blather we’re hearing about restrictions on this group or that beside the point.

“ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa” is the result of a six-month study by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. It studied online chatter, arrest data and other information in the cases of the 71 people arrested since March 2014 for crimes related to support of the Islamic State, along with counter-terrorism research. Fifty-six were arrested in 2015, a record number in a single year since the 9/11 attacks.

The report asks a crucial question, in the context of students and others caught heading to Syria, intending to join the Islamic State: “How could these seemingly ordinary young American men and, in growing numbers, women, be attracted to the world’s most infamous terrorist organization?” The answer is that we don’t know, “as each individual’s radicalization has its own unique dynamics.”

Average age of those studied was 26, but they ranged in age from 15 to 47; 86 percent were male, and most were U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Another point that might surprise those who obsessed with Islamic immigrants: Converts to the faith were 40 percent of the people arrested.

In some ways, the study proved to be a bit prophetic about San Bernardino. It noted a decrease in the numbers traveling to join the Islamic State overseas, which raises the possibility that homegrown terrorists will increasingly focus on U.S. targets.

At less than 1 percent of the total adult population, Muslims in America are at a disadvantage with respect to public perception. Many Americans literally don’t know a single one of the estimated 1.8 million adults in the U.S. who are Muslim.

Assimilation and acceptance, as opposed to isolation, the report notes, are key to blocking radicalization. That’s actually a hopeful point we can look to. Despite the caustic debates about Islam playing out in our media of late, America’s Muslims are far more integrated than their coreligionists in many European countries. That’s a huge strength — and one that should not be undermined.

About 63 percent of Muslims in the U.S. are immigrants. They are also more likely to hold a college degree than native-born citizens, and Muslim women stand out for educational attainment. They’re an asset to our nation, and it’s in everybody’s interest, in the measures we take to protect ourselves from terrorism, not to alienate them.

If American citizens are truly to follow the “if you see something, say something” mode of alertness, we need to be knowledgeable. A mentality of Muslim-equals-terrorist will not help keep us safe.

Here’s a more helpful attitude. How about taking up some of the burden? Read up on the politics and history of the regions and countries where Muslim immigrants and refugees come from, on the conflict now ravaging Syria and Iraq, on the Islamic State and how it is recruiting and how its tactics morph. And get to know more Muslims.

This is an awkward time in our history when Muslim Americans are being expected to speak out after each radical attack, to defend their faith, to denounce bloodshed.

The presumption is offensive.

God forbid if I had to answer for every horrific deed committed by any Latino, or any woman, or any Catholic, or any journalist, or any other member of a group with which I could identify.

That’s a burden that can be lifted from Muslims in America only when the rest of us gain more insight into the faith, its members and the horrific ways that the Islamic State seeks to radicalize.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, December 12, 2015

December 13, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Muslims, Terrorism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Slippery Slope To Trump’s Proposed Ban On Muslims”: The Exploitation Of Anti-Muslim Feelings For Political Purposes

With little fanfare this fall, the New York developer who had planned to build an Islamic community center north of the World Trade Center announced that he would instead use the site for a 70-story tower of luxury condos.

Those who had rallied in opposition to the building because of its religious affiliation back in 2010 were exultant. “The importance of the defeat of the Ground Zero Mosque cannot be overstated,” Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, wrote on the website Breitbart in September. “The Ground Zero Mosque became a watershed issue in our effort to raise awareness of and ultimately halt and roll back the advance of Islamic law and Islamic supremacism in America.”

“Islamic supremacism in America.” Really?

It’s all well and good that so many Republicans have condemned Donald Trump’s reprehensible call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) was particularly forceful, calling proper attention to the “many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country.”

When he was president, George W. Bush honorably put a lid on right-wing Islamophobia. He regularly praised American Muslims and stressed that the United States needed Muslim allies to fight violent extremism. Once Bush was gone, restraint on his side of politics fell away.

Thus, Trump’s embrace of a religious test for entry to our country did not come out of nowhere. On the contrary, it simply brought us to the bottom of a slippery slope created by the ongoing exploitation of anti-Muslim feeling for political purposes.

You don’t have to reach far back in time to see why Trump figured he had the ideological space for his Muslim ban. Last month, it was Jeb Bush who introduced the idea of linking the rights of Syrian refugees to their religion. He said he was comfortable granting admission to “people like orphans and people who are clearly not going to be terrorists. Or Christians.” Asked how he’d determine who was Christian, he explained that “you can prove you’re a Christian.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) took a similar view, saying , “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”

Trump took limits on Muslim access to our country to their logical — if un-American and odious — conclusion. Vice President Biden said that Trump was serving up “a very, very dangerous brew,” but the brew has been steeping for a long time. This is why the “Ground Zero Mosque” episode is so instructive.

The demagoguery began with the labeling of the controversy itself. As PolitiFact pointed out, “the proposed mosque is not at or on Ground Zero. It does not directly abut it or overlook it.” It was “two long blocks” away. And while a mosque was part of the proposed cultural center, the plans also included “a swimming pool, gym and basketball court, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant and culinary school, a library and art studios.”

This didn’t stop opponents from going over the top, and Newt Gingrich deserved some kind of award for the most incendiary comment of all. “Nazis,” he said, “don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.”

When President Obama defended the right of developers to build the project, he was — surprise, surprise — accused of being out of touch, and Republicans were happy to make the Muslim center and Obama’s defense of religious rights an issue in the 2010 campaign.

“I think it does speak to the lack of connection between the administration and Washington and folks inside the Beltway and mainstream America,” said Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), who was then chairman of the committee in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate. Voters, he said, felt they were “being lectured to, not listened to.” Sound familiar?

At the time, John Feehery, the veteran Republican strategist, put his finger on why Republicans were so eager to lambaste Obama’s response to the Ground Zero issue. “This will help drive turnout for the GOP base,” he said.

The Republican establishment is now all upset with Trump, but he is simply the revenge of a Republican base that took its leaders’ pandering — on Islam and a host of other issues — seriously.

You can’t be “just a little” intolerant of Muslims, any more than you can be “just a little” prejudiced against Catholics or Jews. Once the door to bigotry is opened, it is very hard to shut.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 9, 2015

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ground Zero Mosque, Islamophobia, Muslims | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Task That Cannot Be Avoided”: The Necessary Task Of Integrating Islam Within The West

In what is both a reflection and an amplification of rising anti-Muslim sentiment in this country, Donald Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Trump’s xenophobic statement and the popular fears it reflects have to be addressed intelligently and forcefully. We should begin addressing them by admitting that there are unique challenges with integrating Muslims and Islam itself into polities shaped by Western liberalism. But it is a task that has to be done. It cannot be avoided even by the most extreme restrictions on immigration or travel, because Muslims are our already our neighbors. And in an age of decentralized authority and instant digital communication, Islam will remain a way of life available to anyone in the West.

A particularly intense example of America’s Trumpian Islamophobia was captured at a town meeting in Virginia over plans to build a mosque. A man erupted at a Muslim who was speaking, “Every Muslim is a terrorist, period.” Others at the meeting applauded the erupting man for saying that he didn’t want Islam’s “death cult” in his town.

That is ignorant and wrong. But if you will, consider a more thoughtful and advanced version of this argument: The Prophet Muhammad was a military leader and conqueror, a militant posture that shapes Islam to this day. The Grand Ayatollah was telling the truth when he said “Islam is politics or it is nothing.” Osama bin Laden’s fatwa against America was totally consistent with the texts and spirit of early Islam. Today’s millions upon millions of non-violent Muslims could reasonably be described as lax Muslims.

It’s easy enough to dismiss that argument as bigoted, too, and to note that it fails to recognize the very real variety within Islam. At the same time, we should recognize that our culture entertains similarly structured arguments against more familiar religions.

People argue that Christianity is inherently sexist. Or that Catholicism’s view of authority makes it resistant to civil law. We see and sometimes nurture the same preening, vandal spirit of the “Draw Muhammad day” when we call a condom-portrait of Pope Benedict art. Some of the right-wing criticisms of Islam or the customs of immigrants from Islamic countries can have a distinctively secularist flavor, for instance, their fear about the spread of female genital mutilation. It’s possible that the discomfort some progressives have with criticizing Islam itself forcefully would disappear if Muslims seemed like a less vulnerable minority than they are. How do we get there?

Some say that today’s anxiety around Muslim immigration is as irrational as previous fears about integrating immigrant Catholics in American life. That’s too glib. While even the highest authorities in Catholicism of the 19th century did occasionally declare itself hostile to liberal society, the truth is that liberalism itself was shaped by its Christian inheritance. Islam’s tensions with the West run much deeper than Catholicism’s tensions with America ever did. Islam differs in important ways from Judaism and Christianity. There is Islam’s emphasis on jurisprudence over theology. And Islam’s form of triumphalism, which has more difficulty reconciling itself to a world in which Islamic ideas are marginal.

But Western Christians or secular people should not presume to tell Muslims that true Islam is violent. It is easy to find quietist strains of Islam that impress with their piety and devotion to the texts that are at the heart of Islam. A number of scholars and Islamic commentators, from Muhammad Abduh to Fazlur Rahman, have preached an Islam that is in creative tension with the West, rather than outright conflict.

Besides, America’s liberal bargain, more than Europe’s, is capacious and could accommodate a variety of expressions of Islam, just as it accommodates a variety of other religions, some of which build communities that strike us as illiberal. The challenges this represents may be truly awkward, but they are nonetheless necessary.

Consider the community of Samtar Hasidic Jews at Kiryas Joel in Monroe, New York, which has historically fallen within my own Congressional district. This community of Jews sees huge increases of its population because of its incredible fertility rate and welcome attitude to its own co-religionists. Nearly 90 percent of the community speaks Yiddish at home. Nearly half cannot speak English competently. It is widely reported that religious authorities in Kiryas Joel can swing the vote of the town and with their vote, the divided Congressional district in which it sits. Kiryas Joel’s residents have an awkward and sometimes legally combative relationship with their Monroe neighbors over planning and development.

There in Kiryas Joel is much of what people claim to fear about Islamic integration, a separate, “unmeltable” group, one that keeps to its own language and folkways. And yet Kiryas Joel’s peaceful existence with its neighbors is a testament not only to that community’s genius, but the genius of America as well. There is simply no pressing reason for New York to tear up its very generous legal settlement to assimilate Kiryas Joel on its own terms.

Similarly, there is no inherent reason for America to tear up its legal settlement in response to Islam itself. There may be good reasons to limit immigration from Muslim nations. I believe there are. But they are not substantively very different from reasons to limit immigration from any or all nations.

And finally, if the anti-Muslim chauvinists really cannot handle any of the above arguments, the final argument for finding a way to better integrate Muslims should be to prove the superiority of the West itself. Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities have existed within Islamic civilization for over a millennia, not without incident, and not without awkward or painful compromises. If the West is better and stronger than Islamic civilization, it should be able to tolerate religious minorities better than Islamic civilization, too.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, December 10, 2015

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Islam, Muslims, Western Civilization | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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