[News] Chicago-area Islamic centers attacked

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 14 12:04:23 EDT 2012


  Chicago-area Islamic centers attacked after Congressman says radical
  Muslims "trying to kill Americans every week"

Submitted by Maureen Clare Murphy on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 05:19
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/chicago-area-islamic-centers-attacked-after-congressman-says-radical

At a town hall meeting in suburban Chicago last Wednesday, 8 August, 
Congressman Joe Walsh warned that "radical Islam" is "a real threat" 
which is "much more at home now than it was after 9/11."

That threat is "in Elk Grove, it's in Addison, it's in Elgin," Rep. 
Walsh said, referring to Chicago suburbs. He added that radical Muslims 
are "trying to kill Americans every week," and that "it's not a matter 
of 'if' --- it's a matter of 'when' " a major terrorist attack will 
happen again in the US ("Walsh: Muslims 'trying to kill Americans' 
<http://www.salon.com/2012/08/09/walsh_muslims_are_trying_to_kill_americans/>," 
Salon.com, 9 August 2012).

*Rep. Walsh's Islamophobic tirade came just days after a gunman murdered 
six persons at a /gurdwara/, a Sikh house of worship, in suburban 
Milwaukee, about a 90-minute drive from Chicago.*

The suspect, who died of a self-inflicted bullet wound at the scene, was 
a former US Army psychological operations specialist with longstanding 
ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. The Department of 
Homeland Security is treating the shooting as a case of domestic 
terrorism; Sikh Americans along with other communities have been 
targeted in anti-Muslim hate violence in the last decade (see this essay 
by Valarie Kaur 
<http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/06/opinion/kaur-sikhs/index.html>, a Sikh 
American who has documented "the stories of Sikh Americans profiled, 
beaten, stabbed, shot but persevering in faith and resilience").

The Electronic Intifada has also reported on Rep. Walsh's efforts in 
Congress 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/tea-party-congressman-joe-walsh-supporting-one-state-solution-palestine> 
to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority and to support Israel's 
annexing of "Judea and Samaria" (the Biblical terms Israel uses for the 
occupied West Bank) in the event of a unilateral declaration of a 
Palestinian state at the United Nations.


    Chicago area Islamic centers attacked days after Congressman's
    Muslim bashing

Four days after Rep. Walsh's warning of radical Islam being the enemy 
within, a man who lives next to a mosque in Morton Grove, a Chicago 
suburb, *shot the building with a high-velocity air rifle while 500 
worshippers were inside* for evening prayers during Ramadan.

And two days after that, a soda bottle filled with makeshift explosives 
made from household chemicals was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard 
--- *a town in Rep. Walsh's district* as of the 2011 redistricting which 
followed the 2010 census (and just next door to the town where this 
writer was raised).

Cairo-based journalist Ghazala Irshad attended the Morton Grove mosque 
as a child and published this sobering reflection today 
<http://ghazalairshad.com/2012/08/one-week-in-brown-america/>: "My baby 
sister wonders if she will have to wear a bulletproof vest during Eid 
prayers. If this isn't terrorism, then I don't know what is."


    Chicago media omit mention of Rep. Walsh hate speech

Revealingly, the website of Chicago's most prestigious daily 
publication, /The Chicago Tribune/, posted a combined nine stories about 
the attacks on suburban Islamic centers but only one of these eight 
reports makes any mention of Rep. Joe Walsh's statements that the "real 
threat" of "radical Islam" is "already here" in the suburbs of Chicago. 
It is worth noting that the one report that gives the context of the 
congressman's comments was written by the Reuters news service 
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-crime-mosquebre87c15a-20120813,0,285108.story>, 
rather than a /Chicago Tribune/ contributor.

The /Chicago Tribune's/ reportage is representative of other local press 
coverage on the two incidents. Even a report titled "Islamic groups 
alarmed by suburban incidents 
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-mosque-shooting-20120814,0,4901542.story>" 
fails to mention Rep. Walsh's anti-Muslim statements made just days ago 
in the Chicago suburbs.

This omission is not because area Muslims are unconcerned toward his 
remarks; to the contrary, the Council on American-Islamic Relations - 
Chicago along with other groups held a press conference to state that 
<http://www.cairchicago.org/2012/08/09/press-conference-rep-joe-walshs-anti-muslim-statements/> 
*"Such indiscriminate vilification is not unrelated to the rise in hate 
crimes and acts of vandalism we are seeing today. When elected 
officials, trusted by many, indicate that the enemy could be any Muslim 
living in your neighborhood, it gives rise to xenophobic vigilantism 
where fearful citizens target other Americans for simply looking 
different."*

The Congressman's "fear-mongering comments" were also mentioned in a 
CAIR-Chicago release on the homemade bomb thrown at the Lombard school 
<http://www.cairchicago.org/2012/08/13/press-release-illinois-muslim-school-hit-with-acid-bomb/>, 
as well as the group's press statement on the Morton Grove mosque 
shooting 
<http://www.cairchicago.org/2012/08/11/press-release-shots-fired-at-illinois-mosque/>.


    Walsh contorts Pew poll findings on Muslim Americans

Chicago media's omission of Rep. Walsh's anti-Muslim rant, which made 
national as well as local headlines, in its reportage on actual attacks 
on area Muslims, *including Rep. Walsh's constituents*, is most 
irresponsible. Critical questions must be posed whether Rep. Walsh's 
speech has encouraged such attacks. He must be held accountable for his 
speech and its consequences.

In case there was any room for interpretation, Rep. Walsh issued a 
statement the following day reiterating his fear-mongering words 
<http://walsh.house.gov/press-releases/rep-walsh-defends-comments-about-radical-muslims1/>:

    "The threat that radical Islam poses to American families and our
    way of life is not anything new. It is a real threat. The Committee
    on Homeland Security, of which I am a member, has held five hearings
    that examined the threat of Muslim radicalization, especially
    radicalization within the Muslim-American community. Members of the
    Committee are not alone in this --- even Attorney General Holder and
    Janet Napolitano of the Obama Administration have warned about the
    dangers of radical Islam."

    "We cannot let political correctness blind us to reality. While most
    Muslims in America and around the world are as peace loving as the
    rest of us, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that there is a
    radical minority that simply wants to destroy America and the values
    that we stand for. A recent Pew Poll said that 15% of
    Muslim-American men between the age of 18 and 29 could support
    suicide bombings. How people can dismiss things like that, I don't
    understand, but I won't. It is our responsibility as Members of
    Congress to protect American families."

Walsh's claims that 15 percent of Muslim-American men between the age of 
18 and 29 support suicide bombings contradict a comprehensive, 127 
page-long survey on Muslim Americans published by the Pew Research 
Center last year 
<http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/muslim-americans-no-signs-of-growth-in-alienation-or-support-for-extremism/>.

The report, subtitled "No signs of growth in alienation of support for 
extremism," states quite clearly that 86 percent of US Muslims believe 
that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians is 
only rarely or never "justified to defend Islam from its enemies." (An 
overwhelming 81 percent say suicide bombing is never justified.) Only 
one percent replied that such violence is "often" justified, and seven 
percent replied that it is "sometimes" justified. (Six percent replied 
that they don't know whether it is justified.)

As the Pew report states, "Most Muslim Americans continue to reject 
violence and extremism. As in 2007, very few see suicide bombing and 
other forms of violence against civilians as ever justified in the 
defense of Islam, and al Qaeda is even less popular than it was then."

If Rep. Walsh was truly concerned about public safety in the United 
States, he'd be more concerned with these statistics from the Pew report 
regarding profiling and harassment of Muslim Americans:

    Significant numbers report being looked at with suspicion (28%), and
    being called offensive names (22%). And while 21% report being
    singled out by airport security, 13% say they have been singled out
    by other law enforcement. Overall, a 52% majority says that
    government anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims in the U.S.
    for increased surveillance and monitoring.

The report adds:

    Negative views about Muslims, discrimination and ignorance about
    Islam top the list of the problems Muslim Americans say they face.
    The most frequently mentioned problem is people's negative views
    about Muslims (29%), including stereotyping, being viewed as
    terrorists and distrust. One-in-five (20%) cite discrimination,
    prejudice and unfair treatment as the biggest problem facing Muslims
    in this country. Another 15% mention ignorance or misconceptions
    about Islam.

And rather than casting suspicion on young Muslims in the US and 
contributing to the widespread ignorance cited in the Pew report, Rep. 
Walsh should be more concerned about how more than half (56 percent) "of 
Muslims under the age of 30 say they have been treated with suspicion, 
called offensive names, singled out by law enforcement of some kind or 
have been physically threatened *in the past year*."

Muslim Americans are not the threat in America. Racism and bigotry are, 
especially when promoted by public figures like Rep. Joe Walsh.

The mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin earlier this month is a 
reminder of what is inevitable when hate is allowed to flourish without 
challenge.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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