Our very secular national media have a favorite narrative when it comes to “hate speech” and religion. Since 9/11, our national sin is “Islamophobia.” Anti-Semitism continues to exist in isolated pockets, but it’s so … yesterday. “Hate speech” against Muslims is now a top-shelf matter for the politically concerned.
And, like falafel from heaven, they can now attach this Islamophobic hatred to President Trump and his “travel ban.” But how newsworthy is this anti-Muslim wave in the United States when compared to similar crimes against Jews? The actual numbers do not matter. In its 2015 “hate crime” statistics, the FBI reported some 664 anti-Semitic incidents and 257 anti-Muslim incidents. Those are crimes, not speeches.
It just happened again.
Apparently, only “Islamophobic news organizations” found it newsworthy when left-leaning Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the July 21 remarks of a California imam named Ammar Shahin at the Islamic Center of Davis, right across the street from the University of California, Davis. Shahin, speaking in English and Arabic, prayed to Allah to “liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem “from the filth of the Jews.” And he added: “annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.”
When exposed for invoking for a righteous massacre in his Friday prayer, Shahin and his mosque offered a ludicrous defense. The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which took the sermon from the mosque’s website and translated the Arabic to English, was accused of deliberately misinterpreting the remarks. His apologists claimed the imam did not say he wanted Allah to “annihilate” all the Jews; the actual word means “destroy,” which somehow is not a call to violence but merely a “supplication that is generally used against oppressors.”
The ADL also condemned a sermon on the same day by Mahmoud Harmoush, the imam at the Islamic Center of Riverside — surprise, located near the University of California, Riverside — in which he alleged that the land of Palestine was stolen from Muslims through “killing and crime and massacres,” and that Jews are now attempting to extend the conflict to “most of the Middle East.” He ended his prayer by calling to Allah; as translated by MEMRI, he said: “destroy them … rend them asunder. Turn them into booty in the hands of the Muslims.”
It must be noted that these imams have been presented in some media circles as victims, not persecutors. The Belief blog on the CNN website honored Harmoush in 2010 as one of its “Most Intriguing People” when the local Baptists opposed the relocation of his mosque in Temecula, California.
On March 22, 2016, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, sympathetically spoke to Harmoush about Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal to vet Muslims and monitor Muslim communities for terrorism leads. “It would be a gross mistake to burden the Muslim community with somebody else’s crime,” Harmoush said.
On Jan. 25, 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reported mournfully on the Islamic Center of Davis mosque being vandalized and someone wrapping the front-door handles with bacon to mock Muslims’ ban on eating pork. The community held a “Statement of Love” event for the mosque, and Shahin mourned the uptick in hate crimes as Trump was sworn in. “We almost had no problem with anybody around us,” Shahin said. “It’s very rare to have something like this happen in Davis, and it’s very scary, too.”
These vicious calls to prayer for a new Holocaust just don’t excite the national media. As the Jewish magazine Tablet preached on its website, these speeches should “jolt good liberals into action, as they imagine how they would feel if the speakers were, say, right-wing Evangelicals calling on Christ to smite the gays.”
As usual, the media don’t want to change their narrative that Trump’s rhetoric inspires terrorism and he’s somehow the best recruiter for ISIS. In the hands of the “news” manufacturers, facts are malleable things.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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