The Sun has reached a verdict.
Here in the UK, The Sun has it all sorted. The brothers, self-described Muslims, were obviously carrying out their jihad. I guess the daily should be commended for not claiming the brothers were Czech, because that would be patently false.

The Sun has reached a verdict.

Here in the UK, The Sun has it all sorted. The brothers, self-described Muslims, were obviously carrying out their jihad. I guess the daily should be commended for not claiming the brothers were Czech, because that would be patently false.

The Daily Mail: First to report, Last to Retract

As the UK awaits the formation of an official press regulator, the Daily Mail has exploited what might be considered a pre-existing loophole through which the tabloid can sensationalise stories from abroad in order to stir up racial, ethnic or religious hatred here at home. The penalties outlined for knowingly reporting false information here in the UK do not appear to cover international events. Compounded with the speed and coverage of social media, tabloids’ free-wheeling vilification of minorities is doomed to continue.

In classic tabloid style, the Daily Mail used the tragic Boston Marathon bombing to vilify Arabs, and by extension, Muslims, before anything was even remotely clear as to a perpetrator or motive. Despite the fact that, at 18:05 (Boston local, 23:05 GMT) Monday, Boston authorities denied there were any suspects, the Daily Mail went ahead and implicated a Saudi national as a suspect on Tuesday’s front page. In response to published reports of a Saudi suspect, on Tuesday morning law enforcement officials reiterated that they have no suspects and confirmed that the Saudi student injured in the bombing was, in fact, a witness, not a suspect. The Daily Mail did not update their website to reflect this confirmation (of what the FBI had said the night before) until 19:21 (14:21 Boston local time). Whereas the Daily Mail was among the first to sensationalise the unconfirmed account, they were among the last to correct it.

Meanwhile, for over 15 hours the Daily Mail’s flammable story skidded across social media, pseudo-news sites and political blogs, before it was corrected. The damage, however, is done. Social media pages were sharing the false story’s link as late as 18:00 (by my research, but perhaps later). One particular right-wing hate group posted the link on their page at 18:09 Tuesday. Not only is the link still there, it has been shared 52 times and received 25 comments which include, “death to Islam,” “extinguish Islam,” “only a matter of time before Islamist try to attack the UK,” [sic] “they enemy is the religion of Islam” [sic], etc. Beyond the original 52 shares, there is no way to know how many times the story was shared, and what hate messages they elicited.

When the new committee for press oversight is established, the tabloids may find it more difficult to sensationalise local stories to stir up Islamophobia. They can, however, continue to exploit international events to incite local divisions, anger and resentment. Sound familiar?

Incidentally, the only rag looking worse than the DM is the alleged source of the “Saudi suspect” story, The New York Post, which has yet to retract or correct the article on their website. See post below.

The New York Post still hasn’t removed or edited this page, making it available for all sorts of hate groups to share on Facebook, thereby allowing their followers to share on Facebook, and so on, and so on, and so on…

It is time we abandoned willful ignoranceA few months ago I was in an Oxfam bookshop perusing the “Religion” section. I was shocked to find, on the same shelf as the Bhagavad-Gita, shoulder to shoulder with the Bible, the book, Al-Qaeda. I could not immediately articulate the reason behind my shock, so I snapped a photo for future reflection. In defense of the store’s staff, the book’s complete title is, Al-Qaeda - The True Story of Radical Islam. It could be that a volunteer saw “Islam” and thought, “Islam = Religion,” and shelved it there. Last week I read in the news of North Carolina congresswoman Michele Presnell’s conflation of Islam (or Allah) and terrorism. This reminded me of the photo from the bookshop. It’s been almost 12 years since Al-Qaeda became a household name. The notion that Al-Qaeda represents Islam, or even has a religious basis, persists. Al-Qaeda allegedly yearns for a unified umma (worldwide Muslim community) beneath a global caliphate (Islamic state unifying politics and religion) governed by sharia. These are not religious objectives. Neither the Qur’an nor Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) mandate these ends. These political objectives trace back not to a religious scholar, but to the 20th century author and education minister turned militant, Sayyid Qutb. Al Qaeda descends from a deviation from Islam which interprets the Qur’an (word of God) to justify its exclusive, political, perhaps even fascist, ideology as the “true” Islam. Far from adhering to basic Islamic principles, militant Islamic groups subscribing to this aberrant version of Islam have killed tens of thousands of Muslims deemed “apostate” over the past two centuries. But it was the more recent ideas of Qutb that shaped Al-Qaeda’s leadership, which appear more bent on destruction than anything else.American history contains its own examples of individuals and groups who claim to represent the “one true way” but are recognized—sooner or later—as delusional, heretical, or criminal by the broader society. The KKK, Westboro Baptist Church, David Koresh’s Branch Davidians, and Jim Jones, are just a few examples of the better known names. It is often in hindsight that we recognize their “one true way” as hypocritical at best or genocidal at worst. Like Al-Qaeda, these extremist religious leaders claim to know what God desires. Some even want to establish Christianity as a state religion (see caliphate).Although the US has no state religion, most Americans (religious or not) absorb at least a basic understanding of Christian doctrine and its prohibition of murder, rape, and theft (not that these prohibitions are unique to Christianity). Given this basic familiarity with Christian principles, Americans (religious or not) are typically savvy enough to dismiss self-anointed Christian leaders who do not abide by Christianity’s most fundamental principles.Conversely, many Americans are unfamiliar with even the basic tenets of Islam. Despite the fact that Islam is one of the world’s largest religions, there is fierce opposition to instruction about Islam in US public schools. This stand for ignorance is not just counterproductive, it is dangerous. Vocal parents citing beheading, female genital mutilation (FGM), and acts of terrorism as Islamic traditions are not just misinformed, they disseminate misinformation. Misinformed children become misinformed congressmen and women. As such, the perception that Islam is synonymous with terrorism continues. Like Sayyid Qutb, media commentators are not religious scholars. Also like Qutb, they make sweeping claims about Islam and Muslims. Ignoring the plethora of informed Muslim scholars who are also available to speak about Islam, many media supply Americans with an incomplete picture of Islam. Coverage of issues within the Roman Catholic Church includes perspectives from those both within the fold and those who have left. Stories about issues within Islam, however, often only include the perspective of those who have left the religion (for justifiable reasons), or firebrand religious leaders who claim to speak on behalf of all Islam, but actually represent only a tiny percentage of Muslims. That Islam has no official hierarchy is part of its beauty, but also its challenge.Thus, civic leaders, school administrators, and average citizens are ill-equipped to contest Islam’s alleged draconian punishments. But the reality is that practices such as FGM, beheading, and stoning, have no basis in Islam. That these violent “traditions” are cultural practices carried out by various societies that happen to be Muslim does not make the practices Islamic. If a visitor to the US were to examine American headlines and broadcast news, he might be led to believe that Christianity is about picketing military funerals, assassinating doctors who perform abortions, stockpiling weapons, denying civil rights to minority groups, even establishing Christianity as a state religion. But we would quickly assuage his concerns with, “Oh, no, they are not ‘real’ Christians. They are just a bunch of wackos. The media just sensationalize these issues.” Incidentally, apart from the bizarre funeral picketing, Al-Qaeda engages in activities very similar to those carried out by these zealous “Christians.” While Americans are quick to discern splinter groups from wider Christian society, we fail to do the same for Islam’s 1.5 billion adherents. In fact, we give credence to Al-Qaeda’s frankensteined messages from the Qur’an as truth. Is Al Qaeda representative of Islam as we know it? That’s the problem. We don’t know this religion. Our elected officials don’t know this religion. We are thus susceptible to believe whatever anyone ever says “on behalf of Islam.” Until we are better educated, who are we to equate anything with Islam?

It is time we abandoned willful ignorance

A few months ago I was in an Oxfam bookshop perusing the “Religion” section. I was shocked to find, on the same shelf as the Bhagavad-Gita, shoulder to shoulder with the Bible, the book, Al-Qaeda. I could not immediately articulate the reason behind my shock, so I snapped a photo for future reflection. In defense of the store’s staff, the book’s complete title is, Al-Qaeda - The True Story of Radical Islam. It could be that a volunteer saw “Islam” and thought, “Islam = Religion,” and shelved it there.

Last week I read in the news of North Carolina congresswoman Michele Presnell’s conflation of Islam (or Allah) and terrorism. This reminded me of the photo from the bookshop. It’s been almost 12 years since Al-Qaeda became a household name. The notion that Al-Qaeda represents Islam, or even has a religious basis, persists.

Al-Qaeda allegedly yearns for a unified umma (worldwide Muslim community) beneath a global caliphate (Islamic state unifying politics and religion) governed by sharia. These are not religious objectives. Neither the Qur’an nor Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) mandate these ends. These political objectives trace back not to a religious scholar, but to the 20th century author and education minister turned militant, Sayyid Qutb.

Al Qaeda descends from a deviation from Islam which interprets the Qur’an (word of God) to justify its exclusive, political, perhaps even fascist, ideology as the “true” Islam. Far from adhering to basic Islamic principles, militant Islamic groups subscribing to this aberrant version of Islam have killed tens of thousands of Muslims deemed “apostate” over the past two centuries. But it was the more recent ideas of Qutb that shaped Al-Qaeda’s leadership, which appear more bent on destruction than anything else.

American history contains its own examples of individuals and groups who claim to represent the “one true way” but are recognized—sooner or later—as delusional, heretical, or criminal by the broader society. The KKK, Westboro Baptist Church, David Koresh’s Branch Davidians, and Jim Jones, are just a few examples of the better known names. It is often in hindsight that we recognize their “one true way” as hypocritical at best or genocidal at worst. Like Al-Qaeda, these extremist religious leaders claim to know what God desires. Some even want to establish Christianity as a state religion (see caliphate).

Although the US has no state religion, most Americans (religious or not) absorb at least a basic understanding of Christian doctrine and its prohibition of murder, rape, and theft (not that these prohibitions are unique to Christianity). Given this basic familiarity with Christian principles, Americans (religious or not) are typically savvy enough to dismiss self-anointed Christian leaders who do not abide by Christianity’s most fundamental principles.

Conversely, many Americans are unfamiliar with even the basic tenets of Islam. Despite the fact that Islam is one of the world’s largest religions, there is fierce opposition to instruction about Islam in US public schools. This stand for ignorance is not just counterproductive, it is dangerous. Vocal parents citing beheading, female genital mutilation (FGM), and acts of terrorism as Islamic traditions are not just misinformed, they disseminate misinformation. Misinformed children become misinformed congressmen and women. As such, the perception that Islam is synonymous with terrorism continues.

Like Sayyid Qutb, media commentators are not religious scholars. Also like Qutb, they make sweeping claims about Islam and Muslims. Ignoring the plethora of informed Muslim scholars who are also available to speak about Islam, many media supply Americans with an incomplete picture of Islam. Coverage of issues within the Roman Catholic Church includes perspectives from those both within the fold and those who have left. Stories about issues within Islam, however, often only include the perspective of those who have left the religion (for justifiable reasons), or firebrand religious leaders who claim to speak on behalf of all Islam, but actually represent only a tiny percentage of Muslims. That Islam has no official hierarchy is part of its beauty, but also its challenge.

Thus, civic leaders, school administrators, and average citizens are ill-equipped to contest Islam’s alleged draconian punishments. But the reality is that practices such as FGM, beheading, and stoning, have no basis in Islam. That these violent “traditions” are cultural practices carried out by various societies that happen to be Muslim does not make the practices Islamic.

If a visitor to the US were to examine American headlines and broadcast news, he might be led to believe that Christianity is about picketing military funerals, assassinating doctors who perform abortions, stockpiling weapons, denying civil rights to minority groups, even establishing Christianity as a state religion. But we would quickly assuage his concerns with, “Oh, no, they are not ‘real’ Christians. They are just a bunch of wackos. The media just sensationalize these issues.” Incidentally, apart from the bizarre funeral picketing, Al-Qaeda engages in activities very similar to those carried out by these zealous “Christians.”

While Americans are quick to discern splinter groups from wider Christian society, we fail to do the same for Islam’s 1.5 billion adherents. In fact, we give credence to Al-Qaeda’s frankensteined messages from the Qur’an as truth. Is Al Qaeda representative of Islam as we know it? That’s the problem. We don’t know this religion. Our elected officials don’t know this religion. We are thus susceptible to believe whatever anyone ever says “on behalf of Islam.” Until we are better educated, who are we to equate anything with Islam?




Can You Fill in the Blanks?

See if you can guess the missing words from the following passage—answers are at the bottom!

"The [media’s] sensational reporting of PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) cases affects the whole of the _______ community and can incite racial hatred. The constant use of essentially prejudicial terms such as terrorists, terrorism, bombers, ____—often linked with some reference to __________—creates and sustains the idea that hundreds of _______ are terrorists or involved in political violence and perpetuates the impression that the whole of the _______ community is suspect. These points are often reinforced by the failure of the media both to give the same coverage to the release of PTA suspects as they give to the arrests and the failure to report regularly that 86 per cent of all people arrested under the Acts have been released without any action being taken against them.”







1. Irish 2. IRA 3. Irish people 4. Irish people 5. Irish

An excerpt from Paddy Hillyard’s Suspect Community: People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain
pg 146

UAV’s from You & Me

image

Every few weeks the US Justice Department charges someone with providing material support to terrorist groups. This support is often made through financial donations to overseas organizations, many of which provide social services. Whether or not these donors knowingly supported terrorism, our unflagging justice system attempts to provide irrefutable evidence proving the donors are complicit in the alleged beneficiaries’ terrorism agenda.

On the other hand, do we know where our tax-financed drones are going? Do we trust the intelligence and agenda of those dispatching them? With all of the coverage of drone attacks—including bombing of weddings and funerals, an assassination of an American in Yemen—it would be easy to submit convincing evidence of our “material support” for, or demonstrate our complicity in, acts of terror, if such a case were brought forth in an international justice system.

According to the US Code of Federal Regulations, terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” Drones are clandestine agents (one is named Predator). Their method of violence is premeditated, indeed, programmed. Many of their victims are noncombatants. The purpose of their violence is political. There is scant difference between the remote shadowy figure triggering an IED or dialing a cell-phone bomb, and the shadowy Air Force pilot launching a Hellfire missile from the comfort of some suburb in California. By our own definition, we are a terrorist network and we American citizens are terrorists.

Rather than sacrifice our own troops, we gladly sacrifice the truly “innocent bystanders” of our drone strikes. Perhaps “sacrifice” is too generous a word, since it connotes a sense of genuine anguish over our actions. Instead of lamenting the loss of innocents, we take pride in our ingenuity in picking off “our enemies” without shedding a single drop of (American) blood. The tactics of the suicide bomber willing to sacrifice his own life are more respectable than ours.

We all know the phrase, “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But these two categories are not mutually exclusive.


Our rhetoric on spreading democracy around the world is inconsistent with our behavior. Sure, democracy is about free and fair elections, civil rights, and other liberties we so cherish. Although we expect and enjoy these freedoms within our borders, we see no hypocrisy in the lawlessness we wield internationally. For example, while the domestic use of drones enrages Americans as an invasion of privacy, or a ‘big brother’ in the sky, Pakistanis, Afghanis, and Yemenis are killed with impunity by a judge and jury in the sky.

As a Democrat, President Obama cannot appear indecisive or weak on fighting terrorism, and the numbers show he does not hesitate using drones. His administration, hawks, and unimaginative opportunists on both sides of the aisle might argue that we have no choice; the use of drones is not ideal, but it has to be done. The Iraq War, however, is still in our cache and we do not have the requisite assurance that these drone strikes are not based on a ‘hunch’ by someone who has a severe deficiency in estimating the value of life.

The estimate of those killed in drone strikes is nearly equal to the total number of those killed on 9/11. But the number of innocent drone strike victims is unknown and the overall total continues to rise. Is an innocent American girl’s life more important than the Pakistani girl who will be killed today for the sake of our freedom? Can we accept the fact that our freedom relies less and less on the efforts of lost soldiers, of both yesterday and today, and increasingly on the blood of noncombatants in Asia? So far, it seems we have. Pakistan is far away, but distance does not diminish the value of a life.

Looking back at peace crimes such as witch trials, slavery, forced sterilization of Native Americans, we think, ‘The horror—so glad we don’t do that anymore!’ However, drones, extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo—these will also be scourges on our American history, and future generations will demand answers. What will we say? We are not more civilized, we are just more crafty in our cowardice.

We can no longer pretend we are innocent, that our leaders know what is in our best interest, or that these victims ‘must have had it comin’.’ We all know the phrase, “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But these two categories are not mutually exclusive. US drones are terrorizing the citizens of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have become the enemy we set out to destroy.

I am not a bleeding heart idealist (as if that were a dirty word), I am an American citizen whose pride has been bruised and battered by the range of crimes committed on my behalf since 9/11. Despite the fact that our hands are clean and we are not wearing dingy military fatigues, my fellow Americans, we are all terrorists.

—-From a Concerned Terrorist