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Fort Dix: The Backlash that Wasn't By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 14, 2007


In the wake of the Fort Dix jihad plot arrests, the mainstream media featured numerous news articles focusing on the fears of other Muslims in America. Philadelphia’s CBS3 reported: “Muslims in the region are bracing themselves for a possible backlash in response to the terror plot arrests.” There was no shortage of Muslim spokesmen available to confirm these fears. “What we’re all afraid of is a new backlash,” said Hesham Mahmoud of the New Jersey chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. An official of the South Jersey Islamic Center, the spiritual home of several of the jihadist suspects, also expressed fears that they “are going to face a backlash.” A Muslim in New Jersey, Tajwar Roomi, expressed fear for her family: “My husband works for the state. My son, my daughter, they all work. I do get worried about them because some people are nice, [but] some people are not.” As far away as Iowa, the imam of Des Moines’ Islamic Center, Ibrahim Dremali, said: “Some are afraid backlash may be coming. People are becoming cautious again. I’ve told them they have to be careful.” 

But none of the backlash reports included news of any actual backlash incidents, because four days after the arrests, there hadn’t been any. Richard Sparaco, the attorney for one of the accused jihad plotters, Serdar Tatar, came closest to actually reporting one. Sparaco said that the restaurant owned by Tatar’s father, Muslim Tatar, had suffered a sharp decline in business, and that someone kicked in his door and, according to New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, “shouted a racial slur.” Muslim Tatar, according to Sparaco, had also been threatened.

That was it, as far as backlash went. The contrast is stark: when cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper, there were international riots, in which several innocent people were killed; when Pope Benedict XVI repeated a medieval emperor’s negative characterization of Muhammad, there were again riots and killings. When a mentally impaired Christian in Nigeria tore a copy of the Qur’an, rampaging Muslims burned ten churches to the ground. But when six Muslims in America were arrested for plotting to kill as many American soldiers as possible, there have been no killings. No mob action. No riots. No mosques have been torched, and no Muslims have been beaten or (with the possible lone exception of Muslim Tatar) harassed.

 

Of this Americans can justly be proud. The paucity of backlash incidents after the Fort Dix arrests and other jihad terror arrests – as well as after 9/11 -- shows that Americans are still essentially decent people who generally do not victimize people on the basis of their identity or associations. Yet statistics cited by the Des Moines Register painted a very different picture: “a nationwide survey by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations…counted 1,972 incidents of anti-Muslim bias in 2005, up from 1,522 in 2004. The 2005 figure, from the group’s most recent tally, represents the largest number reported to the council, also known as CAIR, in its 12-year history.”

 

So are Muslims really facing an increasing climate of hostility and harassment in the United States? Unlikely. Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha studied an earlier CAIR hate crimes report in 2005 and discovered that “of twenty ‘anti-Muslim hate crimes’ in 2004 that CAIR describes, at least six are invalid.” These included one incident of a bombing outside a mosque for which no police report exists, and which seems not to have taken place at all; one of an arson attack against a mosque that police had determined was a simple robbery, with no “hate” motive; and two incidents of Muslim store owners destroying their own stores.

 

Why would CAIR trump up hate crimes? Because victimhood is big business. The Department of Homeland Security recently unveiled a $24 million grant program for non-profit organizations who are deemed high-risk for a potential international terrorist attack” – and CAIR immediately issued an “Action Alert” urging American mosques to apply for money for surveillance and security systems. What’s more, if CAIR succeeds in its attempt to portray Muslims in America as innocent victims of “Islamophobic” persecution, they will have deflected attention away from the question of whether or not the Fort Dix Six and other jihadists learned to hate and betray America in American mosques. Thus American mosques, seen as victims rather than as possibly abettors of seditious activity, won’t face any scrutiny over what they are doing, and not doing, to halt the spread of the jihadist ideology of Islamic supremacism among Muslims in America.

 

CAIR’s Nihad Awad recently told a Muslim audience: “There were 196 cases reported by the Justice Department for Muslims in civil rights cases. There were over 1008 cases reported by the Jewish faith. We need to do a much better job not only in recognizing our civil rights but also in reporting it to the government. Which is very critical and very important.” Important for the victimhood game: winners receive torrents of money, favorable media coverage, and moral authority that must never be questioned. In this effort Awad can count on the help of the mainstream media, which continues in the wake of the Fort Dix arrests to report on Muslim fears of backlash, as if those fears in themselves constitute an indictment of American society.

 

It’s worthwhile in light of this to step back and consider some of the media reports we are not seeing. Amid the steady stream of backlash articles, there has not been even one article about Muslims pledging to redouble their efforts to teach against the jihad ideology in American mosques. While many have reaffirmed that Islam is a religion of peace and scolded authorities for linking Islam with militancy, no Muslims have explained how this peaceful religion keeps being so outrageously misunderstood by those who are often its most devout adherents, or what they propose to do to keep this from happening in the future. No reporters – consumed as they are with their search for backlash incidents -- are even asking questions like this.

 

And that makes it likely that the Fort Dix jihad plotters will not be the last Muslims in America to “misunderstand” their religion and think it enjoins them to commit acts of violence against unbelievers.

 

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.



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