If Islam Is a Religion of Violence, So Is Christianity

julia_ioffeby Julia Ioffe

The world’s oldest religions all have troubling histories of bloodshed. Singling out Islam is just Trump’s latest, hateful hypocrisy.

Angel with a gun

Angel with a gun


Speaking after “appreciating the congrats” on the Orlando shootings, Donald Trump again insisted that what mowed people down at Pulse was not an assault rifle but radical Islam, because in Trump Tower, it cannot be both. Trump’s world is binary. It is zero-sum: Either guns kill people or radical Islam kills people. In that world, only one religion can be bad, and so Christianity is good and Islam is bad. Christianity is peaceful and Islam violent. Christianity is tolerant and Islam intolerant. Both are inherently one thing or the other, immutable blueprints etched in stone for the behavior of their respective adherents.

This is a worldview that is shared by people who are Trump supporters and not Trump supporters. In the secular vernacular, we might call this view “Manichean,” that is, a binary between light and darkness, good and evil.

But it’s worth noting that “Manichean” was originally used to describe a religion that spread from Persia to the eastern and northern African parts of the Roman Empire in the third century, one that influenced many early Christians. If the word “Manichean” has negative connotations today, it might be because it was deemed a heresy by the early Catholic Church, one that needed to be ruthlessly rooted out of the Christian universe. And I mean ruthlessly: Adherents of a Manichean-tinged Christianity had their goods confiscated and were put to death, even if they converted to proper Christianity but still kept in touch with their Manichean contacts. Even St. Augustine called for their energetic persecution.

I reported Omar Mateen to the FBI. Trump is wrong that Muslims don’t do our part.

By Mohammed A. Malik June 20 at 1:40 PM

Mohammed A. Malik is an entrepreneur in Port St. Lucie, Florida.98628728_Republican_presidential_candidate_Donald_Trump_addresses_members_of_the_National_Rifle_Asso-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA

Donald Trump believes American Muslims are hiding something. “They know what’s going on. They know that [Omar Mateen] was bad,” he said after the Orlando massacre. “They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. … But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death and destruction.”

This is a common idea in the United States. It’s also a lie. First, Muslims like me can’t see into the hearts of other worshipers. (Do you know the hidden depths of everyone in your community?) Second, Trump is wrong that we don’t speak up when we’re able.

I know this firsthand: I was the one who told the FBI about Omar Mateen.Omar Mateen_1465752671151_2934278_ver1.0

I met Omar for the first time in 2006 at an iftar meal at my brother-in-law’s house. As the women, including his mother and sisters, chatted in the living room, I sat with the men on the patio and got to know him and his father. Omar broke his Ramadan fast with a protein shake. He was quiet — then and always — and let his dad do the talking.

[Rep. Jim Himes: Why I walked out of the House’s moment of silence for Orlando.]

I’d seen them before at the oldest mosque in the area, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. We have a lot of immigrants in our community. They grew up in other countries, often with different sensibilities. A few don’t understand American culture, and they struggle to connect with their American-born or American-raised kids.

I came here from Pakistan in 1979 when I was 6 years old, grew up in Queens (like Omar) and Fort Lauderdale, went through the American education system, and assimilated well. So I was able to make better inroads with young people in our community, including that introverted teenager I met at the iftar. I tried to stay in touch with the younger generation, acting as a mentor when I could.


Muslim Leader Calls for ‘Overwhelming Love’ in Response to Orlando Shooting


Juan Rivera was inside the Pulse nightclub Saturday night, when a 29-year-old Muslim American committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Rivera has been missing ever since.

Less than a day later, his still hopeful brother, Baron Serrano, took to Facebook to tell the world that he knows the deranged shooter did not represent any religion. “I want to let people know that not everyone’s the same,” he said in the video stream. “Today I met real Islam and all they do is love.”

The man holding the iPhone camera wanted the world to know the same thing. Hassan Shibly, the bearded and skull-capped executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), had rushed to Orlando on Sunday morning from his home in Tampa after learning of the shooting. He spent much of the day meeting with family members and community officials to condemn the killing of 50 and injuring of at least 53 at the LGBT nightclub. Offering hugs and prayers, he worked his way through the crowd of grieving family members awaiting word on their loved ones fates at a local hotel.


Statements From American Islamic Organizations on the Orlando Massacre

The following links will bring you to the webpages of major Islamic organizations in America giving their response to the slaughter in Orlando.

From the US Council of  Muslim Organizations



(Washington, D.C., 6/12/2016) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, expresses its horror over the mass shooting which took place at a nightclub in Orlando, FL overnight, and offers its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and prays for quick recovery for those who were injured.



ISNA Offers Condolences to the Families of the Orlando Shooting Victims

(Plainfield, IN 06/12/16) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is outraged by the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida.

We stand with the victims of this senseless act of violence and mourn with the families of the victims and pray for their ease and comfort during this time of difficulty.

In a statement, ISNA President Azhar Azeez said:
“ISNA sends its condolences and prayers to the families of the victims. We urge the community to stand united against all acts of violence.”


Statement of Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera on Florida Nightclub Shooting


“We are horrified and saddened by the mass shooting that took place at an Orlando nightclub this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims of this despicable act of violence. Our hearts are also with the LGBTQ community in Florida and throughout the United States.  The LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times.


Orlando Shooting: Talking Points

Men hug during a vigil in a park following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida

Men hug during a vigil in a park following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – RTX2FURO

A site called “ReThink:  Media for Security, Rights and Democracy” has just published a page of “talking points” that can be used to counter the simplistic Islamophobic blaming that has already begun to fill our airwaves.  It’s important that people of conscience give this kind of thoughtful response to the distortions.


Talking Points and Resources

  • This terrible attack is rightly called a ‘hate crime.” No hate crime can be tolerated against any community, ever. All of us must stand together in denouncing prejudice directed at any group.
  • All Americans, and indeed all people, should be able to live their lives without fear of being targeted for their sexual preference, their faith, or the color of their skin.
  • The LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times.  We stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities, and we honor the experiences and work of  LGBTQ Muslims, who are living at the intersections of their LGBTQ identities and Islam. Today, we stand in solidarity with them and the entire LGBTQ community. [Credit: Adapted from Muslim Advocates statement]
  • The gun used in this horrific shooting was an AR -15, the same weapon used in the tragedies at San Bernardino and Sandy Hook. This is a pattern that cannot be allowed to continue. There have been 134 mass shootings this year alone. We need to come together as Americans and put an end to this ongoing tragedy.
  • Religious, civic, and political leaders of every variety should stand together to denounce prejudice or violence that is directed at any group. Politicians who seek to exploit this tragedy demonstrate that they are not fit for leadership in this country, and their exploitation should be renounced. Our strength is our unity.
  • Whatever warped justification the shooter may have claimed, his actions are a hate crime. He alone bears responsibility for this terrible crime. His family, his faith, and his community do not. Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people, but murder knows no faith.