“Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.” – Pervez Musharraf
The news of multiple anti-Islam incidents and plots this week went almost unnoticed, so caught up are we in the sex scandals of the 2016 presidential election. Another time, at least one of them would have been the topic of conversation for days, but this year it went almost without note. Or, perhaps another way to look at it is, if it had been reversed, if Muslims had been plotting to blow up a Christian church and kill Caucasians in their homes, would not the outrage be deafening?
In Garden City, Kansas, three men, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein, claiming to belong to a right-wing hate group that calls itself ‘Crusaders’, plotted to blow up an entire Muslim community, including an apartment complex and a mosque. The members of the group routinely expressed their hatred for Muslims, Somalis and immigrants. In one call, Stein allegedly said the country could be turned around only with “a bloodbath.” The individuals said they wanted to “wake people up” and inspire other militia groups to act. They planned their attack for November 9th, the day after election day, so as not to impact the election outcome.
Fortunately, the FBI had an anonymous informant within the group and had been monitoring the group’s activities since February. Stein, who appears to be the ringleader, is quoted as saying
“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head. When we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a one-year old, I’m serious. I guarantee you if I go on a mission those little f—— are going bye bye.”
The three men were arrested on Friday, October 14th, after Allen’s girlfriend reported on Tuesday that he had beaten her. If convicted, the men face life in prison. You can read the story here.
In Doraville, Georgia, a Muslim group wants to build a mosque, and purchased 33 acres of land for the mosque and other facilities. But threats of violence have put the project at risk. Another right-wing militia group who call themselves the “Three Percenters”, posed with guns across the street from the site of the proposed mosque and claimed the congregation “had ties to Isis training, the September 11 attacks, the Boston marathon bombing, the Fort Hood shooting and more,” none of which is based on fact. County officials have temporarily banned construction of any mosque or church in response to the threats. The local sheriff claims he is investigating, but this is rural Georgia, so don’t expect positive results, or arrests of ‘good ol’ boys’ anytime soon. Read the story here.
Two less violent, but nonetheless xenophobic events were also reported on Friday: a woman allegedly threatened to bomb a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, and anti-Muslim graffiti appeared on a mosque in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Zeeshan-ul-Hassan Usmani is a Pakistani data scientist, writer, entrepreneur, and scholar in the field of computer science. He is a Fulbright grant recipient and holds multiple degrees in the field of computer science. Dr. Usmani has authored numerous books in the field of technology, politics, and international affairs. His study on the impact of drone strikes in Pakistan was published in 2014 by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University where he is also a visiting scholar. Dr. Usmani is an Eisenhower Fellow, having received the honor in 2012. He is the co-founder of PredictifyMe, a predictive analytics firm he started with another Eisenhower Fellow in 2014. PredictifyMe currently works in partnership with the United Nations to combat global terrorism. He currently serves as the company’s chief data scientist. Dr. Usmani has performed extensive research on the effects of suicide bombings, including developing a predictive model to help reduce injuries in the event of a suicide bombing. His work in global counter-terrorism is invaluable. His brain is, obviously, beyond the scope to which my brain can even begin to aspire. And yet …
Last week, Dr. Usmani’s 7-year-old son, Abdul Aziz, was badly beaten on the school bus by a group of classmates who kicked and punched him, twisted his arm and repeatedly called him “Muslim”. The school has not returned calls by Dr. Usmani and apparently it is a case of “nobody saw anything”. The bus driver claims to have seen nothing, the child sitting next to young Abdul saw nothing other than ‘play fighting’, and nobody heard the Muslim comments. Dr. Usmani took his family back to Pakistan last week and is now trying to find an online schooling system for his three children.
The story of the Usmani family, though it took place in North Carolina, was reported by a number of overseas media outlets, including the Daily Mail (UK), Hindustan Times, International – Daily Pakistan, Independent (UK), and others, but the only US media to cover the story was the Huffington Post. With the exception of the first story, which was reported by The Washington Post, none of these stories appeared in U.S. publications. Apparently Americans prefer to keep their blinders firmly in place. Apparently every word uttered by the despicable Donald Trump is more important than persecution of a group of human beings.
“There has been an incredible increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment over the past few years. Anti-Muslim groups have exploited terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The presidential campaign has also produced some of the rawest nativist appeals in recent memory.” – Heidi Beirich, Southern Poverty Law Center
There are many faces of Islamophobia to be found in this nation, and they are multiplying on a seemingly daily basis. Contrary to what Mr. Trump, his followers, and the numerous right-wing hate groups would have us believe, Islam is not our enemy. Muslim people are not our enemies. Hate is our enemy. Those who perpetuate hate are our enemies. We are our own worst enemy.