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February 13, 2015 1

A Tragic Murder, Hate Crimes, and the Need to Fight Stereotypes

The tragic mur­der of three Mus­lim stu­dents in Chapel Hill, North Car­olina this week has stirred deep emo­tions.  While all of us should refrain from rush­ing to judg­ment about why they were attacked, we can cer­tainly under­stand the pow­er­ful impact this hor­rific crime has had, not only on the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, but on Amer­i­cans of good will.

Until the inves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted, the evi­dence ana­lyzed, and the case pre­sented, it is impos­si­ble to know whether or not this case meets the legal def­i­n­i­tion of a hate crime.  Such crimes require the pros­e­cu­tion to prove that the per­pe­tra­tor tar­geted his vic­tims because of their race, reli­gion, eth­nic­ity, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or other immutable char­ac­ter­is­tics.  A crime is not auto­mat­i­cally a hate crime just because the vic­tims are Mus­lims, or Jews, or blacks, or mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity – or because the per­pe­tra­tor and the vic­tims are of dif­fer­ent races or reli­gious tra­di­tions.   The spe­cific tar­get­ing because of their sta­tus is required.  And there is a rea­son for this – hate crimes are dif­fer­ent pre­cisely because they are not the result of greed, or road rage, park­ing lot argu­ments, or busi­ness dis­putes.  Rather, anal­o­gous to anti-discrimination laws, they are crimes which sin­gle peo­ple out sim­ply because of who they are.

 


Un Trágico Asesinato, Crímenes de Odio y la Necesi­dad de Luchar Con­tra los Estereotipos

El trágico asesinato de tres estu­di­antes musul­manes en Chapel Hill, Car­olina del Norte, esta sem­ana ha provo­cado pro­fun­das emo­ciones. Aunque todos debe­mos absten­er­nos de saltar a con­clu­siones sobre el por qué fueron ata­ca­dos, cier­ta­mente podemos enten­der el tremendo impacto que ha tenido este hor­rendo crimen, no sólo en la comu­nidad musul­mana sino tam­bién en los esta­dounidenses de buena voluntad.

Hasta que se ter­mine la inves­ti­gación, se anal­i­cen las prue­bas y se pre­sente el caso, es imposi­ble saber si este caso se ciñe a la defini­ción legal de un crimen de odio. Dichos crímenes requieren que la Fis­calía pruebe que el agre­sor atacó a sus víc­ti­mas a causa de su raza, religión, ori­gen étnico, ori­entación sex­ual u otras car­ac­terís­ti­cas inmuta­bles. Un crimen no es automáti­ca­mente un crimen de odio sola­mente porque las víc­ti­mas sean musul­manes o judíos, negros o miem­bros de la comu­nidad LGBT –o porque el agre­sor y las víc­ti­mas sean de difer­entes razas o tradi­ciones reli­giosas. Se requiere que la víc­tima sea escogida especí­fi­ca­mente por su esta­tus. Y hay una razón para esto –los crímenes de odio son difer­entes pre­cisa­mente porque no son el resul­tado de la avari­cia, ira en la car­retera, argu­men­tos en el esta­cionamiento o con­flic­tos de nego­cios. Por el con­trario, anál­ogo a las leyes con­tra la dis­crim­i­nación, son crímenes que esco­gen a sus víc­ti­mas sim­ple­mente por ser quienes son.

Por supuesto, inde­pen­di­en­te­mente de si estos asesinatos resul­tan ser un crimen de odio, las pre­ocu­pa­ciones expre­sadas en reac­ción a ellos por muchos de la comu­nidad musul­mana son com­pren­si­bles. Los asesinatos refuerzan un sen­tido de vul­ner­a­bil­i­dad y los esta­dounidenses de todas las creen­cias reli­giosas deben ser con­scientes de ello, y ofre­cer apoyo y con­suelo a nue­stros veci­nos musulmanes.

Sabe­mos que la inmensa may­oría de los musul­manes en los Esta­dos Unidos está con­ster­nada por ese pequeño por­centaje de extrem­is­tas musul­manes respon­s­ables por los actos de ter­ror que los Esta­dos Unidos vivió el 11 de sep­tiem­bre de 2001 y que con­tinúan plante­ando una grave ame­naza para la seguri­dad y esta­bil­i­dad en muchas partes del mundo. Tam­bién sabe­mos que demasi­a­dos esta­dounidenses alber­gan estereoti­pos y están dis­puestos a usar de chivo expi­a­to­rio a los musul­manes. En este con­texto, es com­pren­si­ble que los musul­manes esta­dounidenses estén ansiosos sobre el lugar que ocu­pan en la sociedad esta­dounidense y su seguri­dad física, par­tic­u­lar­mente a raíz de una trage­dia como la de esta semana.

Los musul­manes esta­dounidenses tienen dere­cho a dis­fru­tar de la seguri­dad y lib­er­tad que son el ideal amer­i­cano. En el pasado, judíos, católi­cos y mor­mones (entre otros) tam­bién fueron vis­tos con descon­fi­anza. Por tanto, todos debe­mos con­tribuir a arro­jar luz por el dis­tor­sion­ado lente del miedo y la igno­ran­cia, para ofre­cer apoyo y amis­tad, y con­fiar en nue­stros organ­is­mos poli­ciales para que garan­ti­cen que se cumplen los intere­ses de la justicia.

Of course, regard­less of whether or not these mur­ders are ulti­mately shown to be a hate crime, the con­cerns expressed by many in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in reac­tion to them are under­stand­able.  The killings rein­force a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and Amer­i­cans of all reli­gious faiths need to be aware of that and to offer sup­port and reas­sur­ance to our Mus­lim neighbors.

We know that the vast major­ity of Mus­lims in Amer­ica are appalled by that small per­cent­age of Mus­lim extrem­ists respon­si­ble for the acts of ter­ror to which Amer­ica woke up on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 and which con­tinue to pose a seri­ous threat to both secu­rity and sta­bil­ity in many parts of the world.  We also know that too many Amer­i­cans engage in stereo­typ­ing, and are will­ing to scape­goat Mus­lims.    In this envi­ron­ment, it is under­stand­able that Amer­i­can Mus­lims are anx­ious about their place in Amer­i­can soci­ety and indeed about their phys­i­cal safety, par­tic­u­larly in the after­math of a tragedy like this week’s.

Amer­i­can Mus­lims are enti­tled to enjoy the secu­rity and free­dom that is the Amer­i­can ideal.  In the past, Jews, Catholics, and Mor­mons (among oth­ers) were viewed with sim­i­lar dis­trust.  We must there­fore all do our part to shine a light through the dis­tort­ing lens of fear and igno­rance, to offer friend­ship and sup­port, and to trust our law enforce­ment agen­cies to ensure that the inter­ests of jus­tice are served.

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January 20, 2015 0

Calling Radical Islam What It Is

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

If we want to win the war against rad­i­cal Islam — and in my view it should be the num­ber one pri­or­ity of the West­ern and Mus­lim worlds — we need to call it what it is. Too often, out of a mis­placed sense of polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, polit­i­cal lead­ers, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and French Pres­i­dent Fran­coise Hol­lande, avoid iden­ti­fy­ing the extrem­ists as pro­po­nents of a rad­i­cal Islamic ideology.

The solu­tion to the threat lies pri­mar­ily within the Mus­lim world itself. Main­stream Mus­lims must on every level, start­ing with edu­ca­tion, dis­cour­age young peo­ple from tak­ing the extrem­ist path. But if we in the West are reluc­tant to explic­itly say what it is, why should Mus­lim mod­er­ates speak and act?

I address this as some­one who rep­re­sents an orga­ni­za­tion that stands up against defam­ing of Mus­lims in gen­eral or Islam as a reli­gion. When indi­vid­u­als try to show their bona fides in sup­port of Israel by claim­ing that Islam as a reli­gion is ter­ror­ist or that most Mus­lims are, we stand up to say no.

In Europe, the hes­i­tancy to say the words “rad­i­cal Islam” may largely be the prod­uct of intim­i­da­tion or the fear of vio­lent retal­i­a­tion. That is why the com­ments by French Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls before the French Par­lia­ment and in an inter­view with Jef­frey Gold­berg of the Atlantic are so important.

He pulled no punches and told it like it is. The enemy is rad­i­cal Islam. French soci­ety must stand up against the out­rage com­mit­ted by jihadists against France and against the Jews of France. The jihadist ide­ol­ogy surely does not rep­re­sent most Mus­lims and it is a hijack­ing of Islam, but the incite­ment to vio­lence and the acts of ter­ror are done in the name of Islam and influ­enced by teach­ers of fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam in schools and other insti­tu­tions through­out the Mus­lim world.

As Michael Walzer has writ­ten, it is not prej­u­dice but ratio­nal to fear Islamism, as opposed to Islam. When ele­ments within a reli­gious com­mu­nity pro­mote anti-democratic atti­tudes and anti-Semitism, and turn to ter­ror, anti-democratic atti­tudes, and anti-Semitism, it is not racist to oppose it forcefully.

There is noth­ing sim­ple about try­ing to fig­ure out how to defeat the rise of this rad­i­cal­ism within the Mus­lim world.  Social, eco­nomic and polit­i­cal forces within Mus­lim coun­tries and in rela­tions between the west and the Mus­lim world all con­tribute to it.

But what we know from past strug­gles against total­i­tar­ian move­ments, whether Nazism or Com­mu­nism, is that they require clear and prin­ci­pled think­ing to directly engage the danger.

That starts with say­ing that Islam and Mus­lims are not the enemy, they are part of the solu­tion.  We need to empha­size and acknowl­edge that there is prej­u­dice against Mus­lims because of recent events and to emphat­i­cally oppose it.

But we also must not hes­i­tate to point out that those who suf­fer the most from rad­i­cal Islam are Mus­lims them­selves. Just think of the recent news in Pak­istan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nige­ria: Mus­lims being mur­dered, mosques being attacked by extrem­ist Muslims.

The basic mes­sage from polit­i­cal, reli­gious and civic lead­ers must be that all good peo­ple are in this strug­gle together. The Islamic extrem­ists are a threat to Mus­lims, a threat to Jews, a threat to civilization.

Just like the strug­gle against Nazism and Com­mu­nism were defeated by a col­lec­tive effort and by a set of clear ideas, this 21st cen­tury strug­gle can be won as well.

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May 23, 2014 8

Anti-Muslim Group Uses Hitler Imagery In Latest Anti-Muslim Ad

anti-muslim-ad-geller

AFDI’s “Islamic Jew-Hatred” ad in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

Pamela Geller and her anti-Muslim orga­ni­za­tion, the Amer­i­can Free­dom Defense Ini­tia­tive (AFDI), has taken its hate­ful anti-Muslim mes­sage once again to the pub­lic in the form of paid adver­tise­ments on pub­lic transportation.

The lat­est con­tro­versy is just one of many inflam­ma­tory adver­tis­ing cam­paigns spon­sored by Geller and her orga­ni­za­tion in a bid to influ­ence pub­lic dis­course on the dif­fi­cult issues of reli­gion and the Mid­dle East conflict.

Geller’s newest ad cam­paign, which began appear­ing on buses in the Wash­ing­ton D.C. Metro area, states, “Islamic Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran.” The ad also includes a 1941 photo of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Adolf Hitler.

Geller has a long his­tory of pro­mot­ing her big­oted anti-Muslim views through inflam­ma­tory mes­sages in pub­lic spaces, stretch­ing back at least to 2010. These ad cam­paigns are designed to expose Amer­i­cans to what Geller and her orga­ni­za­tion con­sider the biggest threats posed by Islam.

Some notable exam­ples include:

  • July 2012: Geller sub­mit­ted an ad that ran on 75 Metro North train sta­tions stat­ing, “19,250 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11/01 and count­ing. It’s not Islam­o­pho­bia. It’s Islamorealism.”
  • Sep­tem­ber 2012: After a New York fed­eral dis­trict court ruled that the New York City MTA vio­lated Geller’s First Amend­ment right, AFDI’s “Sav­age” ad appeared in sub­way sta­tions. The inflam­ma­tory ad read: “In any war between the civ­i­lized man and the sav­age, sup­port the civ­i­lized man. Sup­port Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
  • 2010 “Honor Killing Aware­ness Cam­paign”: A series of ads were placed on buses and taxi cab tops pur­port­edly to address young Mus­lim women fac­ing threats from their fam­ily for reject­ing Mus­lim val­ues or becom­ing “too Amer­i­can­ized.” The cam­paigns appeared under sev­eral names, includ­ing “Refuge From Islam” and “Leave Islam Safely.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has crit­i­cized Geller and AFDI for “con­sis­tently vil­i­fy­ing the Islamic faith under the guise of fight­ing rad­i­cal Islam;” how­ever, acknowl­edges that the ads are pro­tected polit­i­cal speech under the First Amend­ment. ADL is also on the record stat­ing that “Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim. And sup­port for Israel is not built on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes.”

Geller’s lat­est ad cam­paign is in response to an April 2014 anti-Israel ad by the vir­u­lently anti-Israel group Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP). AMP also has a his­tory of pro­mot­ing extreme anti-Israel views through inflam­ma­tory ads on pub­lic trans­porta­tion aimed at demo­niz­ing and dele­git­imiz­ing Israel. In March 2013, on the eve of the Jew­ish hol­i­day of Passover, AMP unveiled an ad on sev­eral New York City Metro North sta­tions falsely accus­ing Israel of “apartheid.”

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