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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

“Staying True To Our Traditions”: President Obama Reminds Us Of Our Better Selves

Our airwaves have been filled lately with calls for war crimes from the likes of Donald Trump and hate-filed screeds against Muslims as Republican candidates for president try to one-up each other on how tough they can sound about dealing with terrorists. Following the shootings in San Bernardino, that has only escalated.

Meanwhile, the American public hasn’t been privy to much of a reasoned discussion of what we can (and can’t) do about ISIL and the threat of terrorism. That is why President Obama chose to give a speech on the topic last night. It was a reminder that yes, we are fighting ISIL by:

1. Launching airstrikes against ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers,     infrastructure.

2. Training and providing equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces  fighting ISIL on the ground.

3. Gathering and sharing intelligence to stop ISIL operations.

4. Pursuing a political resolution to the Syrian civil war.

But perhaps even more importantly, President Obama articulated what we shouldn’t do when it comes to dealing with terrorism. First of all, “we should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want.” Not only that, it wouldn’t work – as we saw in Iraq.

But secondly, he took on the fear-mongering against Muslims directly.

We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want…

It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL…

Even in this political season, even as we properly debate what steps I and future Presidents must take to keep our country safe, let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges – whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks – by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

For those who were willing to listen, President Obama was basically cutting through all the noise to remind the American people of our better selves. In this season of campaign promises where candidates are expected to outline how THEY can do better, he might be the one person who is best positioned to do that.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 7, 2015

December 8, 2015 Posted by | American Values, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Muslims, Terrorism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oh Boy, God Is Shooting A Shot Across The Bow”: Pastor Who Hosted GOP; Paris Victims Were ‘Devil-Worshippers’

A Christian pastor who hosted Republican presidential candidates a week before the Paris terrorist attack says its victims received divine retribution for worshipping Satan.

Kevin Swanson of Generations Ministries said last Thursday that the 89 people massacred inside the Bataclan theater were “devil-worshippers.” Two weeks earlier, Swanson headlined his own “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference” featuring Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal.

Swanson believes God will annihilate America for tolerating homosexuality and seemed to say God already made an example out of the Bataclan.

“There’s certainly a providential irony here,” Swanson said of the fact that California rock band Eagles of Death Metal reportedly played “Kiss the Devil” as terrorists began firing AK-47s into the crowd. “They went from singing about the devil to meeting the devil face-to-face.”

“When you get a wake-up call like what happened at France’s 9/11 last Friday night at the concert,” he said, “I think we all need to pay attention to what’s happening: This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this.”

Swanson had a message for those who weren’t killed, too.

“I think we need to ask the concertgoers, at least those who survived, did you love the devil? Did you love the devil’s works as your friends were being shot up in the massacre?”

Swanson then claimed he wasn’t taking sides between peaceful victims and Islamic terrorists, though.

“These ISIS devil-worshippers have pitted themselves against humanist devil-worshippers. I’m not on either side here. I’m not taking the side of the devil-worshippers performing the concert; I’m not on the side of ISIS who are slaughtering the devil-worshippers inside the concert. I’m not on neither side.”

Cruz and Huckabee’s presidential campaigns did not respond to a request for comment about Swanson.

Previously, Swanson has said that gays should face the death penalty; that the movie Frozen turns little girls into lesbians; that natural disasters are the fault of godless fornicators.

 

By: Andrew Kirell, The Daily Beast, November 23, 2015

November 24, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Paris Attacks, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Out Of Control Now”: First, Donald Trump Came For The Muslims

I have never truly feared for the well-being of my family or friends because of the words uttered by an American politician. But that has changed after Donald Trump’s comments over the past few days about Muslims.

When I tell you that Trump’s remarks about what he has planned for Muslims in America if elected president are bone chilling, I’m not exaggerating. But to me the most frightening—and yes, I mean frightening—incident in all of this is what happened Saturday at Trump’s rally in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was not just his words, but the way Trump conveyed them and the setting that conjured up a truly dark time in human history.

During his rally Saturday deep in the heart of Dixie, Trump told the crowd of thousands in no uncertain terms what Muslims could expect if he leads our nation. “Just to set it clear,” Trump stated, pausing slightly for dramatic effect. A sternness then came over his face as he declared emphatically: “I want surveillance of these people.”

You see to Trump, we are not your fellow Americans who are teachers, doctors, taxi drivers, member of Congress, etc. No, he has dehumanized us into a faceless group he calls “these people.” And Trump has unilaterally determined that “these people,” Muslim Americans, are not worthy of the same rights as other Americans. That we, Muslims, are less than fully American simply because of our faith.

Trump then implored the crowd to cheer for his plan that would strip the constitutional rights of a minority group in America with the call, “Are you ready for this? Are you ready?” And on cue, thousands in the crowd cheered as their leader beckoned.

Then something else happened at the event that should give all Americans pause. In this sea of adoring Trump fans stood a black man by the name of Mercutio Southall Jr., a well known local activist. Southall had been shouting “Black Lives Matters,” which had so upset Trump supporters that some began to assault him.

Trump, who later admitted that he had been annoyed with the interruptions by this black activist, can be heard bellowing out to his followers as they are assaulting Southall: “Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Adding, “Get him out of here. Throw him out!

And shockingly on Sunday morning when Trump was asked on Fox News about the assault of Southall, he defended it: “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.

But Trump’s demonization of minorities in his quest for power didn’t begin or end on Saturday. He launched his presidential campaign in June in a way that earned him the praise of white supremacist groups for his demonization of Latino immigrants. But I’m sure Trump was already on the radar of these hate groups, which he has refused to denounce, given his infamous racist birther campaign versus President Obama.

And earlier last week, Trump commented to a reporter that he was open to creating a Muslim database and possibly even requiring Muslims to carry special ID cards.

Trump has also doubled down in the past few days on his pledge to order warrantless spying on Muslim Americans and even to close down American mosques. This is no different than racial profiling of Latinos and blacks and it’s no less unconstitutional.

Trump, however, was not done with his Muslim bashing.  In fact, he upped it Saturday by claiming that “thousands and thousands” of Arabs and Muslims in New Jersey were cheering as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11. This is a lie. And that’s not a matter of opinion, it’s fact. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on Sunday, telling the GOP’s leading candidate point blank that the “police say it didn’t happen.” Yet Trump refused to back down, claiming he saw this on television 14 years ago.

The bigger question here is why Trump would even bring up this incident that occurred more than 14 years ago? How is it relevant to the key issues in the 2016 presidential campaign? It’s not. It simply plays well with the GOP base. In fact, just a few days before Trump began his jihad versus Muslims, a poll was released finding that three-quarters of Republicans think Islam is “at odds” with American values. Trump’s demonization of Muslims, as well as other minority groups, is simply part of his strategy to achieve power.

Thankfully, we have seen a cross section of Americans pushing back against Trump’s hate. Therein lies the silver lining. On the claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, numerous elected official from the Garden State have made it clear that Trump is absolutely wrong. These include the current mayor of Jersey City and longtime New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who tweeted bluntly:  “To Trump: Stop your inflammatory lies about Americans.

Even the Anti Defamation League (ADL) swiftly condemned Trump, telling BuzzFeed that Trump is “giving new life to long-debunked conspiracy theories about 9/11.” The ADL dubbed it a “a variation of the anti-Semitic myth that a group of Israelis were seen celebrating as the Twin Towers fell.”

And many on social media made it clear that if Trump ever required American Muslims to register with the government, they would too, even they weren’t Muslim. One of the most moving shows of support came from Rabbi Joshua Stanton, a man who says he tries to avoid politics, but still felt compelled to pen a touching article titled, “Register Me, Too, Mr. Trump.

The GOP is at a crossroads that will define its party for years.  They can nominate Trump, a man who has demonized American minority groups, or choose someone who truly embraces American values. But if Trump is the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, they will have made it clear to America that the Grand Old Party is no longer the party of Lincoln, but the party of hate.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, November 23, 2015

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Donald Trump, Muslim Americans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Religious Fundamentalists Are Losing”: Overall, The World’s Faithful Are Becoming More Open-Minded And Liberal, Not Less

This past weekend, over 2,500 Mormons showed up en masse outside the Latter-day Saints headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, to submit their resignations to the church. They were protesting a new decree excluding wedded same-sex couples from the church and granting baptism to the children of gay couples only if the children disavow their parents. As one devout Mormon put it in expressing her disappointment with the policy: “I feel like we are going backward when I thought we were moving forward slowly.”

Her statement encapsulates the current paradox of religious extremism: How is it that as humanity as a whole seems to be evolving to be more inclusive and less dogmatic in general, certain religious strains are doubling in their extremism? It’s possible to conceive of kernels of extremism as intrinsic within particular faith traditions. But it’s also possible to understand the current rise of extremism as a reactionary backlash against the overall liberalization of faith.

“We live in a world where every single person is challenging everything, where every single person has a voice” Amanullah De Sondy told me. De Sondy is a senior lecturer in Contemporary Islam at University College Cork (Ireland) and author of The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities.

“The extremists want conformity and detest plurality and differences. Being different, being an individual who states that it is their individual relationship with the divine is a huge challenge to those who want the strict order of organizing society.”

Put another way, strict religious ideology requires strict conformity, and people aren’t confirming anymore.

Between 2007 and 2014 in the United States alone, the portion of the population that identified itself as Christian declined by 7.8 percent. During the same period, the percent who consider themselves Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or some other non-Christian faith increased by 1.2 percent—still not enough to keep pace with the overall population growth of 7.9 percent during the same period.

The most significant shift came from the increase in those who consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or otherwise unaffiliated (an overall increase of 6.7 percent). Within this shifting landscape, the United States reached its lowest level of religiosity since 1952.

The phenomenon is similar in Europe. According to data culled by the Islam in Europe blog:

The number of church-goers has dropped steadily for decades, but now there [is] also a lot of space in mosques around Europe. Recent data from the extensive European Social Survey (ESS) show that the number of Muslim immigrants who regularly go to the mosque drops significantly after they’ve lived in their new homeland for some time.

So how is it that in the face of declining religiosity, we nonetheless find ourselves swept up in almost unprecedented magnitudes of religious struggle—from the brutality of Daesh (as ISIS hates being called) in Paris and throughout the Middle East, or the far less extreme yet still perpetual hostility of Christian fundamentalists toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community?

“The three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all have groups that espouse some type of eschatology, or belief about the end of time,” says Valerie C. Cooper, associate professor of Black Church Studies at the Duke Divinity School. “Among these groups, eschatological fears that the end times are near may be stoked by perceptions that the group is being persecuted.”

That sense of persecution can come from the fact of declining religiosity. Or, say, a war being launched against an entire religion—whether it’s the supposed “War on Christmas” or a kind of “War on Islam” that some on the far right call for.

In this context, it’s reasonable to interpret any surge in fundamentalism within a given denomination as a reactionary backlash to the overall trend of liberalization. In Islam, for instance, “Many believers continue to believe in God but not in the place of worship,” says De Sondy. “Even if they don’t go and tender a resignation letter, they attend the Mosque and listen but at some level have checked out and do something different outside.”

De Sondy cites as an example the increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Muslims outside formal religious structures—akin to the demonstration made by rank and file Mormons. These shifting beliefs seriously challenge the orthodox structures and ideas of the faiths, says De Sondy.

And so, unable to propagate their narrow view through ideological cohesion alone, dogma resorts to force—in mild forms like pro-discrimination laws against LGBT people pushed by Christian extremists in the United States, or murderous forms like the brutality of Daesh, which is disproportionately used to punish other “unfaithful” Muslims.

In fact, like other fundamentalist religious groups in this era, Daesh is overreacting to a shifting global climate in which its ideas are increasingly marginalized. The trick to defeating Deash is to see for what it is—a desperate backlash by a declining ideology.

 

By: Sally Kohn, The Daily Beast, November 20, 2015

November 22, 2015 Posted by | Christianity, Mormons, Religious Extremists | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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