Muslims are Often the First Victims of Muslim Fanatics

EGYPT-UNREST-SINAIThe terror in Egypt on Friday is only the latest grim reminder that Muslims are often the first victims of Muslim fanatics.

 The massacre of at least 235 people attending a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abd on the Sinai coast is being attributed to a local affiliate of the Islamic State, known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. This slaughter was particularly venal. Gunmen waited for ambulances and first responders to come to the mosque after an initial detonation and sprayed bullets into the survivors and those dispatched to save them.

An anonymous Muslim cleric told the New York Times that he was shocked the killers would attack a mosque. Prior targets for the terrorists in the Sinai included Coptic Christian churches and a Russian airliner in 2013.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BLOOMBERG

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Muslim FBI agent who helped Canada wants to reclaim his religion from jihadis

OTTAWA — A Muslim FBI agent who helped Canadian authorities foil a terrorist plot says his religion is being desecrated by violent jihadis — and he wants the public to hear a different story.

tamerThe keys are educating people about the true tenets of Islam and including Muslims in the fight against those who warp the faith for their own ends, said the undercover agent, who has written a candid book as Tamer Elnoury, his cover name during the Canada-U.S. operation.

“Al-Qaida and ISIS are the only ones with a voice,” Elnoury said in an interview. “I wanted to start the conversation. Because at the end of the day, the only way we’re ever going to win this global war on terror is if we stand united against it, and we understand it, and we don’t just use the jihadi brush to paint every Muslim.”

An Arabic speaker, Elnoury has been doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2008, a calling that has taken him around the world.

In 2012, he found himself posing as a wealthy American real estate player and al-Qaida backer to halt a plan to derail a passenger train that travels from New York to Toronto.

“American Radical” is his story of the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing advanced research in nanotechnology in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who settled in Toronto with his family.

The look in Esseghaier’s eyes when he talked about killing infidels was something Elnoury had never seen before, he writes. “It was a look of hatred and death. It made me physically sick.”

Elnoury testified, using his pseudonym, during the rail-plot trial in Toronto, and was dismayed by the media focus on Islamic extremism.

“Nothing true about Islam,” he writes. In the media’s defence, he adds, all they heard were Esseghaier and Jaser’s interpretations.

Elnoury recounts how, despite the concerns of the Crown prosecutor, he wanted to squarely address the question in the witness box.

“These religious views that are presented are a complete desecration of my religion,” he told the court. “So it stands out to me when I am having a discussion about rationalizing killing innocent women and children.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIMES COLONIST (CANADA)

Terrorism charges are only reserved for Muslims

cpt111385833.jpg.size-custom-crop.1086x0Prosecutors announced recently that Alexandre Bissonnette will go straight to trial on a slew of charges arising from his attack on a Mosque in Quebec City earlier this year. Despite killing six and wounding 19 in the brazen assault on worshippers, he is not charged with terrorism.

The announcement came on the heels of the Las Vegas massacre where 59 were killed and 527 injured. No terrorism charges there either, even though it meets the Nevada state definition.

No doubt that in both cases people were terrorized. Yet, the terrorism label is sparsely used.

Technically, because there no universally accepted definition, authorities can selectively apply it. Indeed, one person’s terrorist may be another’s criminal or freedom fighter. To many observers, the term appears to be reserved for “others.”

Stephen Paddock was not a terrorist, according to Las Vegas Sheriff, Joe Lombardo, who immediately labelled him a “local individual” and a “lone wolf.” Similarly, Bissonnette may have been “disturbed.” And of course, they were both “sick” and “demented.”

If they were Muslims, they would be “homegrown” terrorists committing “jihad” or “Islamic terrorism.” Mental health or personal issues would not have factored as much.

The Criminal Code defines terrorism as an act committed, entirely or in part, for political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause that has “the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public with regard to its security.”

There are plenty of reports documenting the Laval political science student’s journey from a moderate conservative to someone with far-right sympathies and connections, though this may not satisfy strict evidentiary requirements.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TORONTO STAR 

Trump’s double standard for white supremacists and Muslims

 August 16 at 9:19 PM

Wajahat Ali is a political commentator, Emmy-nominated producer, playwright and attorney.

tmp_uJe5D7_1cdd040aab6dc0fa_GettyImages-830784976“Children, if you’re a Nazi or a white nationalist, your president will stand up for you. If you’re Muslim? Immigrant? Black? Female? Sorry, you’re on your own. Perhaps work at Trump Towers or compete in Miss Universe in order to make it. Good luck!”

I never considered saying this to my two babies, but then again I never thought a president would make moral equivalences and excuses for white supremacist terrorism. After Tuesday’s news conference, we know that President Trump believes thereare “both sides” to the tragic violence in Charlottesville that left one woman dead and 19 injured. There are apparently “many sides” to the conflict, but only one man, James Alex Fields, a Nazi sympathizer, who was charged with deliberately plowing his car into a crowd killing Heather Heyer, an anti-racism advocate. In reviewing his response to the Charlottesville tragedy, it seems Trump has different standards for different Americans: one for his base, the alt-right, and another for Muslims and people of color.

According to Trump, there were “very fine people” in the weekend rally assembled by members of the alt-right. Some of these “very fine people” included white men and women in Old Navy and Gap clothes carrying Tiki torches bought at Walmart, many armed to the teeth, shouting anti-Semitic and racist slogans and lifting their arms in Nazi salutes. Even though they chanted, “The Jews will not replace us!”, I’m sure they’ll give a pass to the president’s Jewish grandchildren. These misunderstood men are nuanced, sophisticated and generous. They deserve careful restraint in denouncing them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

‘There is too much anger out there.’ Bombing of a Minnesota mosque leaves Muslims concerned

la-1501976924-wer1upgbbr-snap-imageTerror tore through a suburban Minneapolis community on Saturday after the bombing of a mosque, amplifying growing concerns among some Muslims who have felt targeted nationwide in recent months.

Law enforcement officials said the explosion occurred around 5 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. Fire and smoke engulfed much of the red-brick structure, but there were no injuries.

The FBI is leading the ongoing investigation, along with local law enforcement. Authorities say they believe an improvised explosive device — also known as an IED — was to blame for the blast at the mosque, which primarily serves the area’s large Somali community.

Mohamed Omar, who has been executive director of the mosque for two years, said Saturday that he was relieved no one was hurt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES 

I’m a British Muslim man of the same age as the London and Manchester terrorists – and I know why we turned out so different

khuram-butt-jihadis-next-door-abzI am the same age as Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, and almost the same age as the recently named London Bridge terrorists; I also profess to be of the same faith. Thankfully, these are the only two things we have in common. As well as studying medicine at university, I currently serve as the president of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association. I spend a lot of my time working to organize interfaith dialogues and peace conferences. So how exactly did we turn out so different? And could knowing the answer to this help reduce the numbers of young people being brainwashed into extremism?

The primary answer to this is education. Even in childhood, I always asked questions about my religion – and as I grew up, I had access to imams and elders ready to answer them. I was free to challenge them, to ask the toughest and most sensitive questions about the most “controversial” aspects of Islam.

Through this process I learnt that Islam teaches there is no compulsion in religion, that taking even a single life is equivalent to killing to the whole of mankind, and that saving a life is equivalent to saving the whole of humanity. I learnt that the concept of jihad is not about spreading religion through force, but about struggling against one’s own evil desires in order to reform oneself and become a pure-hearted, decent individual.

I learnt that the Prophet Mohammed taught that loyalty to one’s nation of residence is part of one’s faith, reinforced by the fact that at least once a year at our religious functions we publicly make the pledge to serve our country whenever required. I learnt about the role of charity in Islam, and what the Qur’an calls the “steep ascent” – the true means of attaining nearness to God: “It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding in a day of hunger, an orphan near of kin, or a poor man lying in the dust.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

If we asked young British Muslims what they think about extremism, we might actually be able to tackle the issue

britishmuslimyouthJust this week we saw another young British Muslim, 22-year-old Salman Abedi disgracefully murdering young children, those of whom were his own peers, in an arena in Manchester.

This is not the first time that young people have turned to violence and terrorism. Whether it has been 17-year old Talha Asmal in Dewsbury or the young girls from Bethnal Green who, unbeknown to their parents and peers, concocted a plan to join Isis in Syria. It has all been seen before: “loving, kind, caring” teenagers who all of a sudden become murderers and members of a death cult. Young people that, in the end, vowed to evil methods to express their grievances.

Yet, how many ordinary young British Muslims have we consulted about this issue? Have their voices really been heard on this issue that primarily affects them? Of course, many of those groomed by radicalisation have accepted an ideological pathway that pits themselves against the rest, no matter how inhumane it might be. But could Salman Abedi’s Libyan heritage have been a grievance, caused by a failed British intervention destroying Libya and leaving a power vacuum filled by extremists, as claimed by one of his friends on Radio 4? Could an open dialogue have prevented such a drastic conversion?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT