The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are demanding action from Fox News after a host linked all Muslims to terrorists and advocated for violence against practitioners of the faith.
In an August 27 statement, the Asian American Journalist Association condemned Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros for making blanket statements conflating all Muslims to the Islamic State and advocating for violence against them. AAJA called on the network to apologize:
AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.
Muslims and Islam are not interchangeable terms with terrorists or ISIS. We in the media know better and must be vigilant in our choice of words.
The AAJA joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in their outrage over the offensive Fox segment. MPAC previously called for the network to fire Tantaros following her inflammatory statements.
The growing call for action from Fox News comes after an August 20 segment of Outnumbered featured co-host Andrea Tantaros discussing the death of journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State. Suggesting that the history of Islam set a precedent for the murder, Tantaros declared that “this isn’t a surprise,” and that the only way to solve the situation was “with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand”:
Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was a guest on the right-wing Christian radio program “On The Way With Paul Ridgeway” earlier this month where he made his case that the Islamic radicals in ISIS are the true face of Islam and warned that every mosque in America is “an armory of Hell.”
Saying that “we have fourteen hundred years of history to know what Islam is like and what Islam does,” Cass called for military intervention against ISIS to be carried out “with ferocity, because that’s the only thing that the Muslim mind will respect.”
"But the truth is," he continued, "every mosque in America, I say—and this is harsh words but I think I can back it up—is an armory of Hell."
Ridgeway agreed, as he and Cass later asserted that Muslims around the world have remained silent in the face of atrocities being carried out by ISIS because "they secretly agree with it and they want it."
"I think the truth is," Cass said, “that if you went to these mosques and you were able to get them to speak honestly, they would be delighted with what’s going on, that Christians are being killed”:
Conservative media figures have wrongly accused Muslim groups and leaders of failing to denounce the violent acts of the terrorist group the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), despite the fact that numerous Muslim religious authorities, advocacy groups, and Imams have come together to denounce the Islamic State’s un-Islamic crimes against humanity.
Conservative Media Figures Complain That Few Muslim Voices Are Denouncing The Islamic State
Fox & Friends: “We Aren’t Hearing Much” Condemnation Of ISIS From Muslim Groups Like The Organization Of Islamic Cooperation Or Al-Azhar. On the August 21 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Anna Kooiman claimed that “we aren’t hearing much” from Muslim countries and groups in response to the brutal acts of violence committed by the Islamic State, while the network’s Middle East and terrorism expert Whalid Phares called on Islamic organizations Al-Azhar and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to condemn the terrorist group:
ANNA KOOIMAN: But what should other countries be doing? Specifically Muslim countries and what about Muslim groups? We aren’t hearing much from them this morning.
Why do you think it’s so important for Muslims across the country and all over the globe to speak out against ISIS?
WALID PHARES: The first institution should be Al-Azhar University, the equivalent of the Vatican in Egypt. They could do a lot by delegitimizing the work of ISIS. And second, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, it represents 57 Muslim governments. Some of these governments have criticized ISIS, but they need to coordinate at the international level. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/21/14]
Sean Hannity: “Where Are The Muslim Leaders” Speaking Out Against The Islamic State Terrorist Group? During the August 12 edition of Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, in a segment titled “The Silence of Muslims,” Hannity claimed that Muslims leaders have not been proactive in denouncing the “rise of radical Islam” and acts of terror committed by the Islamic State:
SEAN HANNITY: As we witness the rise of radical Islam all across the globe, and thousands of innocent non-Muslims are being terrorized for their faith, I can’t help but wonder, where are the Muslim leaders? Now, since September 11, 2001, radical Islamists have attacked all the places that you see there highlighted on the map on your screen, including, let’s see, New York, Madrid, Moscow, London, Washington, D.C.
So the question is, will prominent Muslims denounce and take on groups like ISIS, Hamas, and condemn and also fight against their unthinkable acts of terrorism?
We see this group ISIS - ‘convert or die.’ Why do I sense there’s not enough outspoken Muslims saying, you know, ‘We condemn this. This is not our religion. Stop doing acts of terror in the name of our religion.’I don’t hear those voices that loudly. [Fox News, Hannity,8/12/14]
ABC News’ Laura Ingraham: We’re Not Hearing Enough, “If Any,” Condemnation Of The Islamic State From The Muslim Community. Laura Ingraham, host of syndicated radio show The Laura Ingraham Show and contributor for both Fox News and ABC News, argued on August 11 that few, “if any,” in the Muslim community have condemned the Islamic State, asking, “Where are those people”:
LAURA INGRAHAM: And it would be nice if more in the Muslim world coming out and condemning what the Islamic State is doing. You’re not hearing enough of those voices, if any. I mean, where are those people? [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show,8/11/14]
In Reality, Top Muslim Leaders And Groups — Like The Organization of Islamic Cooperation — Have Condemned The Islamic State
The Organization Of Islamic Cooperation: The Islamic State Has “Nothing To Do With Islam,” Has Committed Crimes “That Cannot Be Tolerated.” As the Vatican’s internal news source reported, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 1.4 billion Muslims in 57 countries around the world, condemned the Islamic State’s persecution of of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq, saying the “forced deportation under the threat of execution” is a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” According to the Vatican:
The Secretary General also distanced Islam from the actions of the militant group known as ISIS, saying they ‘have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.’ [Vatican Radio, 7/25/14]
Al-Azhar: Islamic State Is Corrupt And “A Danger To Islam.” Lebanese paper The Daily Star reported that Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, Egypt’s highest religious authority, denounced the Islamic State as a threat to Islam and said that the group both violates Sharia law and humanitarian law: “[They] give an opportunity for those who seek to harm us, to destroy us and interfere in our affairs with the [pretext of a] call to fight terrorism.” [The Daily Star, 8/13/14]
Arab League: “Strongly Denounced” The “Crimes Against Humanity” Carried Out By The Islamic State. On August 11, Nabil al-Arabi, the Arab League Chief, denounced acts committed by the Islamic State in Iraq as “crimes against humanity,” demanding that they be brought to justice. According to Al Arabiya News, he said in a statement that he “strongly denounced the crimes, killings, dispossession carried out by the terrorist (ISIS) against civilians and minorities in Iraq that have affected Christians in Mosul and Yazidis.” [Al Arabiya News, 8/11/14]
Turkey’s Top Cleric: Islamic State’s Threats Are “Hugely Damaging,” “Truly Awful.” Turkey’s highest ranking cleric, Mehmet Gormez, decried the Islamic State’s declaration of a “caliphate” and argued that the statements were damaging to the Muslim community, according to Reuters:
"Such declarations have no legitimacy whatsoever," Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, which, although a majority Muslim country, has been a secular state since the 1920s.
"Since the caliphate was abolished … there have been movements that think they can pull together the Muslim world by re-establishing a caliphate, but they have nothing to do with reality, whether from a political or legal perspective."
Gormez said death threats against non-Muslims made by the group, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were hugely damaging.
"The statement made against Christians is truly awful. Islamic scholars need to focus on this (because) an inability to peacefully sustain other faiths and cultures heralds the collapse of a civilization," he told Reuters in an interview. [Reuters, 7/22/14]
CAIR Repeatedly Condemned The Islamic State As “Un-Islamic And Morally Repugnant.” In a July 7 statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the terrorist group “un-Islamic and morally repugnant,” noted that the Islamic State’s “human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented,” and called on other Muslim community leaders to speak out against the violence. CAIR reiterated the condemnation of the Islamic State as “both un-Islamic and morally repugnant” on August 11, and on August 21, CAIR once again condemned the group, calling the killing of American journalist James Foley “gruesome and barbaric”:
We strongly condemn this gruesome and barbaric killing as a violation of Islamic beliefs and of universally-accepted international norms mandating the protection of prisoners and journalists during conflicts.
The Geneva Conventions, the Quran - Islam’s revealed text - and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad all require that prisoners not be harmed in any way. There can be no excuse or justification for such criminal and bloodthirsty actions.
We also call on those holding Steven Sotloff and other prisoners to immediately release them unharmed so they may return to their loved ones. [Council on American-Islamic Relations,7/7/14; Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/11/14; Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/20/14]
The Muslim Council Of Great Britain: “Violence Has No Place In Religion.” The Muslim Council of Great Britain condemned the Islamic State’s actions and expressed that they do not represent Sunni Muslims, according to The Independent. Shuja Shafi, a member of the council also said: “Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction.” [The Independent, 7/11/14]
The Islamic Society of North America: The Islamic State’s Actions “Are To Be Denounced And Are In No Way Representative Of What Islam Actually Teaches. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) released a statement denouncing the Islamic State “for its attacks on Iraq’s religious minorities and the destruction of their places of worship.” ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid said, “ISIS actions against religious minorities in Iraq violate the Quranic teaching, ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ (Surat al-Baqara 2:256),” adding, “Their actions are to be denounced and are in no way representative of what Islam actually teaches.” [The Islamic Society of North America, 8/9/14]
100 Sunni And Shiite U.K. Imams: The Islamic State Is An “Illegitimate, Vicious Group.” As the Huffington Post reported, 100 Sunni and Shiite Imams from the U.K. came together to produce a video denouncing the Islamic State, releasing a statement that they wanted to “come together to emphasise the importance of unity in the UK and to decree ISIS as an illegitimate, vicious group who do not represent Islam in any way.”
Saudi Arabia’s Highest Religious Authority: Terrorists Like The Islamic State Is The “Number One Enemy Of Islam.” On August 19, Al Jazeera reported that Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, the country’s top religious authority, said that terrorism is anti-Islamic and said that groups like the Islamic State which practice violence are the “number one enemy of Islam”:
Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilisation, are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims. [Al Jazeera, 8/19/14]
Muslim Public Affairs Council: Condemned The Islamic State And Called For “Stand Against Extremism.” On August 20, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) released a statement condemning “the barbaric execution of American Journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” MPAC urged “all people of conscience to take a stand against extremism” and offered condolences to Foley’s family. MPAC also noted the importance of countering ISIS and other extremist groups by working “to empower the mainstream and relegate extremists to the irrelevance they deserve.” [Muslim Public Affairs Council, 8/20/14]
From the August 20 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:
ANDREA TANTAROS: If you study the history of Islam. Our ship captains were getting murdered. The French had to tip us off. I mean these were the days of Thomas Jefferson. They’ve been doing the same thing. This isn’t a surprise. You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. Its the only thing these people understand. And all we’ve heard from this president is a case to heap praise on this religion, as if to appease them.
Right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham baselessly suggested that Muslims aren’t condemning the violent tactics employed by the extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though in reality many prominent Muslim voices have strongly denounced the group.
Recent news reports have documentedshocking acts of terror that have made ISIS the “most feared organization in the Middle East.” The group has warned Christians that they must either “convert to Islam or die,” and according to Secretary of State John Kerry, its “grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”
During an August 11 conversation about ISIS’ threats against Iraqi Christians with the National Review's Nina Shea, Laura Ingraham claimed that few, if any, Muslims have spoken out against the group:
INGRAHAM: And it would be nice if more in the Muslim world coming out and condemning what the Islamic State is doing. You’re not hearing enough of those voices, if any. I mean, where are those people?
But in reality, many Islamic leaders have strongly denounced ISIS, and thousands more Muslims have gathered to promote messages of peace.
Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which represents 1.4 billion Muslims in 57 countries around the world, condemned ISIS’ threats against Christians in Iraq, saying the “forced deportation under the threat of execution” is a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” In an interview with Reuters, Turkey’s highest ranking cleric, Mehmet Gormez, similarly decried ISIS’ threats against Christians and argued that the statements were damaging to the Muslim community: “Islamic scholars need to focus on this (because) an inability to peacefully sustain other faiths and cultures heralds the collapse of a civilization.”
In a July 7 statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called ISIS’ actions “un-Islamic and morally repugnant.” CAIR noted that the group’s “human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented” and called on other Muslim community leaders to speak out against the violence. The Muslim Council of Great Britain’s Shuja Shafi also said: “Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction.”
Chinese government officials announced Thursday that they plan to create a new state-sanctioned version of Christian theology, the latest in an uptick of attempts by the government to curtail the growing influence of religion in Chinese culture.
Speaking to the state-run China Daily newspaper, Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, told reporters that the new effort would seek to marry Christian theology with established Chinese norms.
“Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country’s religious policy,” he said. “The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture.”
The exact details of how and where this new theology will be developed were not immediately clear, but the move appears to be part of a long history of complex — and increasingly conflict-ridden — interactions between religion and politics in China. Religion was recast as a superstition and a foreign intrusion during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when many houses of worship were forcibly closed and congregations disbanded by Red Guards. The government has since loosened its grip on spiritual affairs, but the U.S. State Department’s “International Religious Freedom Report for 2013“, released in July, still lists China as a “Country of Particular Concern,” and cited several major hurdles faced by many Chinese seeking to freely express their religious beliefs.
But despite these challenges, most researchers agree that the Christian population in China is substantial — and growing. An official 2010 Chinese government survey reported the existence of about 23.05 million Christians in the country, but a 2011 Pew Research survey estimated that the real number is actually closer to 67 million. Of these, Pew reported that around 9 million are Catholics, 5.7 million of whom are affiliated with the state-controlled Patriotic Catholic Association — which rejects the authority of the Vatican — while another 3.3 million attend “underground” Catholic congregations who still recognize the pope in Rome. The survey also reported that roughly 23 million Chinese affiliate with the government-sanctioned Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement, while around 35 million attend “unregistered” Protestant churches or state-approved churches without having formal membership.
As this Christian population rapidly expands, the Communist Chinese government — which is ardently atheist — has started to push back against the religion’s increasingly public role. For years, the pastors and congregants of illegal Protestant “house churches” have been repeatedly detained, imprisoned, and charged for things such as “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” More recently, the government has started forcibly removing crosses from several churches because they “violated zoning regulations.” Even high-profile, state-sponsored churches are starting to feel the heat: despite protests, city officials tore down the famous 180-foot spire of Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, China in May.
Some, such as Ian Johnson at the New York Times, believe the trend is part of an organized effort on the part of the Chinese government. According to a nine-page provincial policy statement obtained by the Times in May, local politicians have been urged to ramp up efforts to regulate “excessive religious sites” and “overly popular” religious activities — specifically Christianity and its religious symbols, such as crosses.
“The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways,” the document read. “Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings.”
Analysts speculate the government wants to lessen the influence of Christianity because it is seen as a threat to the established government — especially “underground” Protestantism. According to the Times, a “disproportionate number of lawyers handling prominent [civil rights] cases … are Protestant,” partially because some Chinese Protestants see rights such as freedom of expression as “God-given.”
But the government’s tendency to exact control over religion isn’t just a Christian problem. China is notorious for its harsh treatment of Tibetan Buddhists and members of the Falun Gong religious sect, and officials have also started to crack down on Islam — particularly the religious practices of Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim minority population that populates China’s troubled western region. Local officials banned fasting during Ramadan, the month-long Muslim celebration of fasting and prayer, in the Xinjiang province earlier this year, arguing that they wanted to “protect students’ wellbeing.” According to the BBC, they also reportedly forced at least three Muslim students to eat and break their fast during that time period.
Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt is furious about Hillary Clinton’s recent remark that the gun lobby is a “minority of people” who “hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”
Pratt told Tea Party News Network host Tim Constantine on Tuesday that Clinton’s remark means she thinks that all gun owners are terrorists and is therefore ignoring Islamic terrorism, which he claimed is being taught in “most of the mosques in our country.”
“That means that they’re not willing to look at Islam and realize that Islam teaches killing other people,” he said. “Pure Islam from the Koran says that anybody who doesn’t agree exactly with Islam is to be killed, or enslaved at best. So, there’s your real terrorist. And it’s in most of the mosques in our country. You want to find the real terrorists, Mrs. Clinton, check out mosques.”
A Republican candidate seeking to represent Georgia’s 10th U.S. House district believes that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty does not apply to followers of Islam.
“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Rev. Jody Hice wrote in his 2012 book It’s Now Or Never, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”
The House candidate also believes the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly infiltrating the United States in a plot to impose Sharia law on the entire country, a conspiracy theory he shares with Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Hice tied Mike Collins in the Georgia Republican primary in May, with each candidate getting about 34 percent of the vote. The winner of the July 22 runoff election will face Democrat Ken Dious in November.
Hice has previously said that Islam and the U.S. Constitution are incompatible.
“Most people think Islam is a religion, it’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. But it’s much larger. It’s a geo-political system that has governmental, financial, military, legal and religious components. And it’s a totalitarian system that encompasses every aspect of life and it should not be protected (under U.S. law),” he told members of the Coweta County Tea Party Patriots in 2011, according to The Citizen.
“This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide. It’s a movement to take over the world by force. A global caliphate is the objective,” he added.
The Muslim law student who who posed a question at a conservative panel on Benghazi this week appeared Thursday on Fox News’ “Hannity,” where she was confronted about why she chose to use the microphone to speak about American Muslims instead of those who were killed in the Benghazi attacks.
Host Sean Hannity recreated a bank-and-forth that took place at the Benghazi Accountability Coalition panel at the Heritage Foundation between the student, Saba Ahmed, and panelist Brigitte Gabriel, president of ACT! for America. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had described Gabriel and her fellow panelists’ reaction to Ahmed as ”ugly taunting,” a characterization that some disputed based on a video clip from the event.
Hannity kicked off the discussion by asking Ahmed why she chose to focus her question on the treatment of Muslims in America.
"The forum was talking about Islamic jihadists. So I asked a question about Islam," Ahmed said. "So I didn’t see how that was irrelevant. It was directly related to what the panel was about."
Gabriel then accused Ahmed of derailing the direction of the Benghazi panel discussion.
"The whole symposium was about Benghazi," Gabriel said. "And she took the limelight instead of standing up as an American, caring about how four Americans are dead, asking something about what we can do to hold our government accountable."
"The whole panel was about accountability," she added. "Yet she took the limelight asking a question that was completely not discussed, out of the blue. She might as well be asking, ‘why are we wearing green today?’"
Hannity continued to press Ahmed on Sharia law, urging her to say that it was wrong to force women to wear head scarves, to require four male eyewitnesses to prove rape and to allow stoning of women and homosexuals.
"This is happening in the name of your religion, this is my point," Hannity said. "I have every belief that you’re probably very moderate in your own personal views, but this is happening in the name of your religion. If it were Catholic and it was happening in the name of my religion, like the sex scandal, I spoke out. I said it was intolerable. Will you speak out?"
"Well, I am speaking out. I’m against some of the barbaric practices around the world. I think Islam has been misused by a lot people —" Ahmed said before Hannity cut her off.
Yesterday, Bryan Fischer penned a column in which he declared that Islam is a contagious disease that must be completely quarantined before it can infect America and done so by banning entry to any and all Muslims:
Islam is a contagious infection, a totalitarian ideology that threatens the social health of its infected host, the United States. This contagion needs to be contained by stopping Islamic immigration at our border. Just as we screen immigrants for contagious physical diseases, so we need to screen immigrants for contagious cultural diseases.
"They don’t allow that in sharia law," Steven said, "so as far as that’s concerned, they’re probably a little bit more just than we are."
Fischer replied that Muslims “rightly accuse the United States of corrupting the morality of the entire world” because we allow the production and sale of pornography here.
"It’s just embarrassing, it’s humiliating that we have given them that" argument, Fischer declared. “When they go out and say the United States is the Great Satan because of all the pornography it produces, how do you argue against that because they are right. That is the work of Satan; we’re producing it, we’re distributing it all over around world, they have every right to complain about that”:
Speakers at a Heritage Foundation panel mocked a Muslim student who pointed out that Muslim Americans were not represented at the forum and stated that conservative rhetoric on Islam is often starkly negative.
On June 17, Heritage held an event to discuss the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The event was led by Andrew McCarthy, a conservative commentator and former federal prosecutor who recently released a book claiming that President Obama’s response to the Benghazi attacks constitutes an impeachable offense. Several panelists at the forum have long records of inflammatory rhetoric about Islam.
The session, as usual, quickly moved beyond the specifics of the assaults that left four Americans dead to accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the Obama administration, President Obama funding jihadists in their quest to destroy the United States, Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton attempting to impose Sharia blasphemy laws on Americans and Al Jazeera America being an organ of “enemy propaganda.”
Then Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, stood in the back of the room and asked a question in a soft voice. “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” she told them. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.”
Panelist Brigitte Gabriel of a group called ACT! for America pounced. She said “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.” She told Ahmed that the “peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and she drew a Hitler comparison: “Most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million died.”
"Are you an American?" Gabriel demanded of Ahmed, after accusing her of taking "the limelight" and before informing her that her "political correctness" belongs "in the garbage."
"Where are the others speaking out?" Ahmed was asked. This drew an extended standing ovation from the nearly 150 people in the room, complete with cheers.
The panel’s moderator, conservative radio host Chris Plante, grinned and joined in the assault. “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” he demanded of Ahmed.
"Yeah," audience members taunted, "yeah."
Ahmed answered quietly, as before. “I guess it’s me right now,” she said.
Below is video of the exchange recorded from Heritage’s livestream of the event. Gabriel’s comments begin at 4:15.
Last month, in the wake of the Fort Hood Military Base shooting spree that left four dead and sixteen injured, conservative filmmaker and Breitbart.com contributor Patrick Dollard tweeted, “If there is even one more act of Muslim terrorism, it is time for Americans to start slaughtering Muslims in the streets, all of them.”
As it turned out, the killer was not Muslim, and the motivations for the assault were not terrorism. But this did not stop the backlash from reaching the Muslim-American community.
Although Dollard received criticism from a few media outlets, his actions were never formally punished. As of this writing, he has neither deleted nor apologized for the tweet, despite being told that several Muslim Americans felt offended and threatened by it. When it comes to online hate speech against Muslims, this is frequently the case. Dollard’s tweet is only the most recent high profile case in a string of online bigotry and violent hate speech against Muslims living in the United States, the vast majority of which often goes unpunished and unaccounted for, even when voiced by public figures.
“We have repeatedly heard from community members about their concern about how hate speech spreads online,” Madihha Ahussain, the lead author of the report says. “But they don’t know how to respond or what tools are available to them through Internet platforms to try to counter the hate that is online.”
On the Internet, there are approximately 11,500 websites devoted to anti-Muslim hate, not including isolated posts. In addition to politicians and other public officials using their platforms to advance stereotypes about Islam and sway their constituents’ perception of Muslims and Muslim-Americans, there are several independent hate groups and “Celebrity Islamophobes” with large online followings. Although some of these groups are exclusively online, many galvanize their supporters into offline actions that often have real-life consequences for the Muslim community.
The most notorious example of this is Pamela Geller’s Stop the Islamization of America, a group that, shortly after forming in 2009, galvanized enough support to oppose the Park 51 “Mosque at Ground Zero” bringing thousands of right wing activists to the streets of lower Manhattan, and Geller and her organization’s agenda to the national spotlight. These protests, although relatively short-lived, changed the perception of Muslims in the United States. A 2010 Public Religion Research Institute study showed that 49 percent of Americans believed the values of Islam were incompatible with the American way of life, a notable increase from previous studies. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans and vandalism and arson attacks on mosques leapt to an all-time high.
Although Geller has not necessarily made mainstream news headlines since then, her personal Facebook following has exploded from 19,000 to over 78,000 in the past year alone.
It doesn’t take a celebrity Islamophobe like Geller or notorious right-wing commentator like Patrick Dollard to stir anti-Muslim sentiment in the community. Smaller blogs, particularly ones focused on local communities can have serious and violent repercussions. One of the most common—and sinister—examples is online bullying amongst high school students.
“There was one instance where an American-Muslim high school student was threatened online, and told her school administrators and the police about it, but there was no action taken,” Ahussain says. “Later she suffered from a concussion because of it.”
After the assault, the students who attacked her were talking and bragging about it online.
Should the Internet be regulated? Legally, hate speech is too loosely defined to fall squarely inside or outside of the First Amendment. Although the First Amendment includes caveats, such as speech that could “incite” violence or be deemed threatening, it is difficult to pass comprehensive laws that address all forms of hate speech to make a meaningful impact.
What about the Internet companies? As private companies, online platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook can enforce regulations on content that are not as beholden to the First Amendment as they would be coming from Congress. Still, with an average of 58 million tweets and 4.75 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook per day, it would be nearly impossible to monitor everything.
In the absence of comprehensive regulation, the MACLC report advises community members to report hateful content and engage in what Ahussain terms, “counter speech.”
“Really the conversation about hate speech should not impact the first amendment in anyway. We are not advocating for speech to be censored,” says Ahussain. “But hate speech online has consequences for people’s real lives. We need to talk about it in a way that allows people to respond using more speech, counter speech.”
Ahussain defines counter speech as anything ranging from promoting positive portrayals of American Muslims to holding public officials who engage in hate speech accountable.
Sabina Mohyuddin, a board member of the American Muslim Advisory Council in Coffee County Tennessee engaged in counter speech concerning an incident with county commissioner Barry West. Last year, West posted a picture on Facebook of a man cocking a gun straight at the camera. It was captioned “How to Wink at a Muslim.” After many members of the Tennessee Muslim community called and voiced their outrage, West issued an apology.
“We were happy that he apologized, but we felt like we needed to do more than just get an apology. He needed to understand who we were,” Mohyuddin told The Nation.
“So, me and my husband decided the best thing is to get together with him in an informal setting,” she continues. “I think he understood that we’re part of the community, we have kids that we want to succeed, we volunteer in the community. So, slowly over tea and some baklava we had the spark of a friendship forming.”
Inspired by their dialogue, Mohyuddin planned a public forum called “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” so that more of Coffee County could get to know the Muslim community. News of the forum went viral, and 1,000 came from across the country to protest, including top level Islamophobes like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
“I gave a talk about American Muslims and hate crimes,” Mohyuddin recounted. “When I showed a picture of a burned down mosque, people in the audience were cheering.”
Barry West was in attendance.
“You could tell he was emotional,” Mohyuddin says. “He understood that me and our families are good people and he wanted to show some support for us. The lesson learned is if you reach out and talk to people, and offer a hand in friendship, good things come out.”
Furious over halal Subway restaurants in the United Kingdom, Pamela Geller appeared on “The Janet Mefferd Show” yesterday to allege that while Muslim customers demand full compliance, Jewish customers would never do such a thing: “A Jewish person doesn’t eat non-kosher meat, that’s all. They don’t say, ‘This restaurant can’t serve meat that’s not kosher.’ This is what [Muslims] do, they impose their halal, or in this case their Sharia, on non-Muslims.”
In fact, Subway does have kosher restaurants that don’t serve non-kosher menu items.
The Jewish Telegraph Agency found several kosher Subway restaurants in the US where “ham and bacon were removed from the menu, the ‘cheese’ is made of soy, and the Seafood Sensation sandwich is filled with imitation crab. Two microwaves and toaster ovens ensure that fish and meat are kept separate, a consideration for more observant Jews. There is a full-time mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, and the restaurant is closed on Shabbat.”
The Wall Street Journal also reports that Subway has restaurants with “Glatt Kosher” signs that don’t “serve pork or offer dairy products and meat.”
“In addition, an Orthodox Jewish employee must turn the oven on and off each day and the restaurants have to pay to be certified by a rabbinical organization that sends a rabbi over at random times to supervise operations. They are also closed at what are peak dining times—the Jewish Sabbath, which begins on sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday.”
Later in the interview, Mefferd wondered if there is an effort underway to push the “Islamization of the American public schools,” and Geller warned that Common Core is pushing Islam: