Boston Bombs ‘Have Nothing To Do With Islam’

The Boston bombers’ religion is wholly immaterial, Muslims insist. Of course. Nothing to see here, move along.

“Unfortunately, there’s a double standard in the public’s view when an atrocity like this hits,” said Qasim Rashid, national spokesman for the national Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

“Who asked what religion Adam Lanza was?” asked Rashid, referring to the young man who mowed down 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn., last year.

“If a non-Muslim commits an act of terrorism, they are thought of as responsible only for themselves. But when [it’s] a Muslim, the entire Muslim community is brought in.”

They could've been killed by anyone

Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Sean Collier: Could’ve been killed by anyone

Rashid’s was a view echoed Friday by local and national Muslim leaders.

“A terrorist is a terrorist. A killer is a killer,” said Quresh Dahodwala, a nuclear physicist who lives in Cherry Hill. “To identify them with their religion is not fair.”

Except when the murderers act under perceived orders or inspiration from their god, their religious texts, and their resulting ideology. Then, I would say, it’s more than “fair” to mention that fact — then it’s motive, then it’s essential to the story, in order to understand who and what we’re dealing with.

People like Rashid and Dahodwala, who I’m sure are nice guys, are either delusional or dishonest when they say they can’t see the difference.

The same is true for Twitter users such as Nervana Mahmoud, who wrote: “Fact: Terrorism has no religion, race, or nationality.”

We can agree on the “race” and “nationality” part, my friend. As for religion, with Bill Maher, I’m going to have to beg to differ.


P.S. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to separate the crazy-violent ones from the kind and peaceable ones on their own say-so?

In the Wall Street Journal, an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev recalls how he discussed Islamic violence with the would-be bomber earlier this year, saying “bombing civilians and justifying it under the Quran was wrong.” The future butcher agreed with him, responding, “Not all Muslims are like that.”

[photos via NBC News and]

Are Muslims Being Treated With Suspicion? Probably. Unfairly So? Probably Not.

Conor Friedersdorf asked yesterday morning, in the Atlantic:

What is it like to be a Muslim, or a person frequently mistaken for a Muslim, in the aftermath of an apparent terrorist attack? Americans who don’t fit that description can’t really know for sure, but three news items from the last few days show that knee-jerk prejudice is inexcusably common. If your ethnic group were treated this way, you’d be walking around paranoid and anxious.

I like Friedersdorf, and share his concern for America’s civil liberties. And he has a point here, as usual. It must be annoying as hell to be a peaceful Muslim, forever struggling under the oppressive miasma of low-level public distrust. But here’s the thing:

If I were a Muslim, and in possession of a modicum of intellectual honesty, I’d understand why I and my brethren fall under swift suspicion almost every time a bomb goes off.

I’d understand that violent fundies, claiming to do Allah’s work, had spoiled it for the majority of peaceful believers.


As a hypothetical Muslim, I’d probably be upset by what I might well perceive as prejudicial wariness from non-Muslims; and I’d think, no doubt rather often, “Screw this, I didn’t do anything.” But I’d be more upset with the coldhearted sons of bitches who hijacked my religion by bombing innocents while shouting that God is Great.

If I were a Muslim — not one who works for CAIR or the UN as a professional accuser of Islam’s critics, but one with a capacity for balanced reflection — I’d face the fact, despite my anger and pain, that people of my religious tribe did this:

• Flew airliners into Manhattan office towers.
• Blew up subway cars (and the innocent passengers in them) in London.
• Bombed a night club in Bali, killing hundreds.
• Created a huge bloodbath by setting off ten bombs aboard trains in Madrid.
• Kidnapped and beheaded the journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
• Laid siege to the heart of Mumbai with bombs and guns for three days, piling up the corpses.
• Murdered hundreds of children and teachers in a school in Beslan, Russia.
• Bombed the Paris metro.
• Took and executed foreign hostages at an oil refinery in Algeria.
• Attempted to detonate a car full of explosives in Times Square, New York.
• Stabbed and shot several of Salman Rushdie’s translators and publishers in Italy, Norway, and Japan.
• Set fire to a hotel in Turkey to protest Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, killing dozens.
• Firebombed a British publishing house for publishing a historical novel about Mohammad.
• Firebombed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for putting Mohammad on its cover.
• Tried to blow up cargo planes and their crews in England and Dubai, with explosives packed in printer cartridges.
• Shot and killed people on the Fort Hood military base.
• Slaughtered the filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.
• Made multiple attempts on the lives of Scandinavian cartoonists who’d drawn pictures of Mohammad.


Not quite done yet:

• Shot and killed innocent people in the Washington DC area with a sniper rifle.
• Tried to bring down a passenger plane with explosives hidden in the heel of a shoe.
• Tried to bring down another passenger plane with an incendiary device hidden in the bomber’s underwear.
• Shot little Jewish kids through the head in a schoolyard in Toulouse, France.

Oh — and, we learned yesterday, hours after Friedersdorf posted his piece, that Islam-loving youths

• indiscriminately killed and maimed with bombs and guns in Boston this week.

Boston Marathon Explosions

That’s all off the top of my head. The litany above covers just the last decade or two, and isn’t nearly a complete list.

People who don’t like hearing this have a tendency to go on the counter-offensive by pointing to terrorists like Tim McVeigh and Anders Breivik. But those mass-murdering swine notwithstanding, rightwing extremists of their ilk don’t represent a worldwide violent movement.

Wish I could say the same for Muslims.

In the United States alone, since 9/11, there have been more than 50 Muslim terrorist plots and attempts and attacks. What other religion comes close? What other faith has even one-tenth of this horrible record, gained in the span of just the last 20 or 25 years?

As Moral Compass readers know, I have a fair amount of contempt for the Catholic Church (in fact, I like to think I’m an equal-opportunity offender of all religions). But I’m not the slightest bit worried that cells of scheming Catholics are going to want to blow marathon spectators to smithereens, or butcher atheists and gay people, or fly Boeings into office buildings.

No other religion on earth boasts such a massive contingent of aspiring terrorists, and I can back up the assertion. In 2008, the Gallup polling firm released the result of a survey among the world’s Muslims. Over six years and across three continents, Gallup had asked 50,000 adherents of Islam whether they supported violent jihad. The vast majority of respondents — 93 percent — said no.

May we assume that percentage to be correct? It’s likely to be considerably lower, of course, as not all backers of jihad will readily reveal their true sympathies when pressed on the subject by a U.S.-dispatched stranger with a clipboard. Not many radicals who support murder if it advances their cause will say so openly. Well, maybe these guys (Londoners, no less):


Anyway, Gallup and the mainstream media played the poll results as a victory for reason and international peace. Dalia Mogahed, director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, intoned at the time that there was no “widespread support for terrorism” among Muslims. Her poll showed that only seven percent are politically radical, she enthused.

Only seven percent of 1.3 billion Muslims is 91 million.

Only 91 million Bin Laden aficionados who cackle at the murders of Jews, Christians, atheists, apostates, artists, and authors.

Only 91 million devotees of stoning adulterers and lynching gay people.

Only 91 million Allah worshippers ready to either kill satirists and apostates, or condone such slayings.

Only 91 million would-be warriors so steeped in spirituality that they cheer when bombs built and placed by their co-religionists literally rip the limbs off of clubgoers in Indonesia and train commuters in Spain.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but as long as the number of Muslim terrorism supporters is that high, and extreme violence by Muslims is as common as rain showers, fans of Allah are going to be met with more than their fair share of suspicion.


P.S. Friedersdorf refers to Muslims as “an ethnic group.” He suggests that we’re racists for letting our thoughts wander in their direction whenever an act of terrorism is reported in the media.

As has been pointed out countless times, including by YouTubers with robot voices, Muslims form neither a race nor an ethnically homogenous tribe. Just as there are black Christians, white Christians, Asian Christians, etc., so are there black Muslims, white Muslims, Asian Muslims, and so on. The point should be unmissable, but continues to whoosh right over Friedersdorf’s and others’ heads.

Boston Suspect: ‘There is No God But Allah.’

From Yahoo News:

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted links to Islamic websites and others calling for Chechen independence on what appears to be his page on a Russian-language social-networking site.


Police launched a massive manhunt for Tsarnaev, 19, after killing his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a shootout overnight. On the site, the younger Tsarnaev identifies himself as a 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

It says he went to primary school in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a province in Russia that borders Chechnya, and lists his languages as English, Russian and Chechen.

His “World view” is listed as “Islam” and his “Personal priority” is “career and money”.

He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salam world, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.

Who Said It?

Who is on the record with these three statements?

• “I’m very religious.”
• ‘There are no values anymore.”
• “People can’t control themselves.”

Click and drag in this space here –>   Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Tamerlan, Tamerlane: What’s in a Name? An Islamic Warrior’s ‘Systematic Use of Terror’

We learned today that the older of the two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston marathon was called Tamerlan Tsarnaev.


That means he was named after the 14th-century Turkic ruler Tamerlane (also spelled Tamburlaine, but more commonly Temur or Timur) who called himself “the Sword of Islam.” Tamerlane/Timur, says Wikipedia, was known for his butchery and his “systematic use of terror.” His empire stretched thousands of miles, encompassing parts of (among other countries) Turkey, India, Iran, Afghanistan, and also Kyrgyzstan, where the Boston suspects were born.

Timur was a devout Muslim who referred to himself as the Sword of Islam, converting nearly all the Borjigin leaders to Islam during his lifetime. His armies were inclusively multi-ethnic. During his lifetime Timur would emerge as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire and the declining Sultanate of Delhi. Timur had also decisively defeated the Christian Knights Hospitaller at Smyrna. …

Timur’s armies were feared throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, sizable parts of which were laid to ruin by his campaigns. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people, amounting to about five percent of the world population.

Taking advantage of his Turco-Mongolia heritage, Timur frequently used either the Islamic religion or the law and traditions of the Mongol Empire to achieve his military goals or domestic political aims.


He not only consolidated his rule at home by the subjugation of his foes, but sought extension of territory by encroachments upon the lands of foreign potentates. His conquests to the west and northwest led him to the lands near the Caspian Sea and to the banks of the Ural and the Volga. Conquests in the south and south-West encompassed almost every province in Persia, including Baghdad, Karbala and Northern Iraq.

His incursion into Persia was notable in part for what Tamerlane ordered his troops to do after the brief siege of the city of Isfahan.

When Isfahan surrendered to Timur in 1387, he treated it with relative mercy as he normally did with cities that surrendered. However, after the city revolted against Timur’s taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur’s soldiers, Timur ordered the massacre of the city’s citizens with the death toll reckoned at between 100,000 and 200,000. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers constructed of about 1,500 heads each. This has been described as a “systematic use of terror against towns…an integral element of Tamerlane’s strategic element” which he viewed as preventing bloodshed by discouraging resistance. …

He justified his campaign towards Delhi as a religious war against the Hindu religion practiced in the city and also as a chance for to gain more riches in a city that was lacking control. By all accounts, Timur’s campaigns in India were marked by systematic slaughter and other atrocities on a truly massive scale inflicted mainly on the subcontinent’s Hindu population.

He massacred 100,000 captives at Delhi, and at least 20,000 more at Baghdad. The Baghdad death toll came after

Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him. (Many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur.)

Then he turned his attention to Ankara and Anatolia (present-day Turkey).

Timur’s army ravaged Western Anatolia, with Muslim writers complaining that the Timurid army acted more like a horde of savages than that of a civilized conqueror. But Timur did take the city of Smyrna, a stronghold of the Christian Knights Hospitalers, thus he referred to himself as ghazi or “Warrior of Islam”.


In all,

The conquests of Timur are claimed to have caused the deaths of up to 17 million people; an assertion impossible to verify. Timur’s campaigns sometimes caused large and permanent demographic changes. Northern Iraq remained predominantly Assyrian Christian until attacked, looted, plundered and destroyed by Timur, leaving its population decimated by systematic mass slaughter.

Timur’s devotion to Islam, especially in his waning years, was never in question, but in his earlier adulthood he seems to have been more of a religious opportunist who just loved to subjugate and plunder. Notes one reviewer of Justin Marozzi’s biography Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World:

Temur rationalised his conquests by appeal to Islam, but he rates as one of the greatest butchers of Muslims of all time. His forces were hired and kept loyal with generous shares of the spoils of conquest, and the cynical deal was, “No jewels, no jihad.” If a city were rich enough to merit plundering, it would qualify as a city of bad Muslims to be blessed with Temur’s corrections and a pretext found. If it happened to be filled with Crusaders or Hindus, all the better. The Ottomans themselves, fresh from annihilating the flower of Christian knighthood at Nicopolis, were swept aside almost without effort. Clearly, Temur’s blessings to his religion were equivocal. Campaigns against Delhi and Christian enclaves in Asia Minor allowed a slightly more convincing pretext of religious war, and in his later years he directed his energies more consistently against non-Muslims as he felt immortality approach, but his campaigning character seems to have been defined by the lust for conquest.

Of course, that one of the apparent Boston bombers was named after the Sword of Islam may mean nothing. The Tsarnaev boys’ aunt claims they were unfailingly good and kind:

My nephews cannot be part of this terrible, horrible act that was committed in the streets of Boston. I know these two nephews, smart boys, good boys, they have no motive for that, they have no ideas to be going to this kind of act. It’s just not the case, it cannot be true.

We‘ll see.

[top photo via Business Insider; middle photo via National Geographic; bottom image via Aapna Punjab]

Muslims Lose Their Shi(r)t, Christians Follow Suit

Egyptian prosecutors are filing criminal charges against 13 religious brawlers who were arrested after

fighting erupted in the village of Dahshour when a Coptic Christian man who irons clothes for a living and one of his Muslim customers became entangled in a brawl after the Christian accidently burned his client’s shirt.

The fight escalated, drawing more people, and left one Muslim, Moaz Mohamed Mohamed, dead.

Over a shirt. And of course, over whose god is better.


More than 120 Coptic families living in the area left the town, fearing they would be violently expelled.

The defendants in the sectarian incident are nine Muslims and four Coptic Christians, and [they] are charged with murder, the possession of explosive materials, and assaulting security forces.

[photo by Eric V. Santos via flickr]

In Iraq, Sunni Muslims Assassinate Their Own

Part political, part religious, all sectarian. Via the New York Times:

In the first Iraqi elections since the American troop withdrawal, Sunni candidates are being attacked and killed in greater numbers than in recent campaigns, raising concerns in Washington over Iraq’s political stability and the viability of a democratic system the United States has heavily invested in over years of war and diplomacy.

At least 15 candidates, all members of the minority Sunni community, have been assassinated — some apparently by political opponents, others by radical Sunni militants. Many others have been wounded or kidnapped or have received menacing text messages or phone calls demanding that they withdraw.

By going after members of their own sect, radical Sunnis aligned with Al Qaeda are effectively seeking to destabilize the Shiite-led government, making an already angry and alienated community fearful to participate in national governance. At the same time, it appears intra-Sunni rivalries are inadvertently aiding the radical cause, as Sunnis kill political adversaries in their quest for power.

[photo by Mohammed Ameen via the New York Times]

Nigerian Christians Claim Their Piece of the Terrorism Pie, Threaten to Bomb Mosques

Fed up with the violence from Muslim terror groups like Boko Haram, Nigerian Christians aren’t exactly turning the other cheek. Their solution: kill Islamic clerics, and bomb mosques.

The latest terrorist threats to come out of Nigeria aren’t being propagated by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group bent on eradicating Christianity (and other Western influences). Instead, the threats from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) are being made “in defense of Christianity.”


MEND, a militant group operating out of the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta, says it intends to attack Muslims in order to protect Nigeria’s “hapless Christian population.” The planned attacks, which MEND says will begin on May 31, will include mosque and hajj bombings and assassination attempts against Muslim clerics.

If it seems like just tough talk, look closer. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted in a response to the MEND statement that there have been “ongoing attacks and retaliations by Muslims and Christians” in Nigeriah, and that Boko Haram has used “Christian attacks on Muslims to justify its attacks on Christians.”

USCIRF also says Boko Haram has “killed more Muslims than Christians over the past few years.”

[image via Aaron Niequist]

Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence?

The Eclectic Quill‘s got a point.

2U.S. Government Responses to Immortality Claims | The Eclectic Quill

Egyptian Activists: Scrub Religion From ID Cards

Other than for gathering anonymous census data, why would the government ever ask you what religion you are? And if the government issues national ID cards, as it does in many countries, why would your religious affiliation deserve a mandatory mention on that card? What purpose does it serve?

And what would happen if you told nosy bureaucrats to stay out of your business?

That’s the thinking of British-Egyptian journalist and blogger Sarah Carr, who teamed up with a friend, Mohamad Adam, to try to change the official Egyptian conflation of identity and religion. Via the New York Times:

Egyptian activists have begun an online campaign against sectarianism in the wake of a deadly attack on mourners at Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral this month.


To begin the process of disentangling religion and citizenship, the “None of Your Business” campaign, driven by a Facebook group and a YouTube video, urges Egyptian citizens to cover up the section of their national identity cards that states their religion. The group’s Facebook page describes the initiative as “a campaign against interference in citizens’ private lives by the state, and by other citizens. We are for the removal of religion from official documents — the most important of which is the personal ID card — as a small but important step towards ending discrimination on the basis of religion.”

In response, supporters of the campaign have uploaded photographs of their ID cards to social networks with messages along the lines of “my faith is my own business,” obscuring their religions.

Says Carr:

“I couldn’t think of a single use for the religion field; the Egyptian state has a well-documented thirst for bureaucracy and collecting information about its citizens, but there is absolutely no need for it to have this information, which serves no purpose other than giving prejudiced state officials, and anyone else who sees the ID card, the opportunity to give [you] a hard time.”

She would ultimately like ID cards to be abolished altogether, calling them “unnecessary and sinister,” but concedes that’s still a ways off.

“Removing the religion field from ID cards is a symbolic first step towards this. If it ever did happen, it would be a message that the state need not and should not have a role in defining, controlling or exploiting religious identity.”

Pianist’s Sentence Is the Latest Example of Turkey’s Slide Towards an Islamic Theocracy

Today, Fazil Say, 43, a famous Turkish pianist who has played with the New York Philharmonic and other world-renowned orchestras, got a 10-month suspended prison term. A Turkish court handed down the verdict after it found that Say had mocked Islam on Twitter. If he reoffends in the next five years, he’ll be put behind bars.


And what awful, shocking, impermissible things he wrote. See for yourself:

In one tweet, Say joked about a call to prayer that he said lasted only 22 seconds. Say tweeted: “Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table?”

Raki, popular in Turkey when I visited a few decades ago, is akin to what the French call Pastis — an alcoholic drink with a sweet aniseed flavor. Alcohol is forbidden under Islam.

Another of Say’s tweets noted that Muslims are promised wine and virgins if they go to paradise (extra-marital fornication is also an Islamic no-no), and Say asked, prickly but not unreasonably, whether that meant that heaven is closer to a tavern or a brothel.

So some Islamist jackass sued.

Emre Bukagili, a citizen who filed the initial complaint against Say, said in an emailed statement that the musician had used “a disrespectful, offensive and impertinent tone toward religious concepts such as heaven and the call to prayer.”

And this harms you how, Sir? Why not tweet a witty retort, or a Qur’anic verse if you prefer, and call it a draw? You know, like they do in grownup countries?

What angers me most about this affair is that the Turkish government pretends to be pained by the whole thing — and claims to have nothing to do with it.

“I would not wish anyone to be put on trial for words that have been expressed. This is especially true of artists and cultural figures,” Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik said. “But… this is a judicial decision.”

This would be encouraging if it wasn’t so patently disingenuous. Turkey, though often considered to be westernized and modern, has a nasty habit of harassing and prosecuting domestic critics.

Two years ago, it convicted the only Nobel Prize winner it ever produced, the novelist Orhan Pamuk, for mentioning the Armenian genocide in an interview with a Swiss magazine. Pamuk was first put on trial for “offending Turkishness” and “offending the Armed Forces,” charges that were later lessened to violations against individual Turks’ “honor.”

Elif Shafak, perhaps the only other contemporary writer to enjoy literary fame beyond Turkey’s borders, was prosecuted for similar reasons.

There can be no doubt that this is condoned, if not encouraged, at the highest level.

Consider that making fun of Islamic prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is especially hazardous. The British collage artist Michael Dickinson, an Istanbul resident, spent three days in jail and was then made to endure a four-year legal ordeal after he portrayed Erdogan as George W. Bush’s lapdog.


A Turkish court ordered him not to insult the Dear Leader again or pay a $3,000 fine. (This was an improvement over the 14 months in jail that the judge had initially imposed on the satirist.)

I could give many such examples, but the Wall Street Journal already published a jaw-dropping roundup here, noting that Erdogan is “suing perhaps hundreds of private individuals for insulting him.”

It’s loopy enough for a 21st-century head of state to be mortally insulted by cartoons and art works and songs that are insufficiently reverential toward him; but the offense-taking is especially chilling when, subsequently, all of religion is de facto declared off-limits.

Erdogan is on record as saying that he will “raise a pious generation,” and he’s been very diligent in that regard. Notes Ankara-based journalist Sibel Utku Bila:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has almost daily tirades to deliver. His anger has boiled over … over a sculpture not to his liking, a rock festival that offered beer to university students, and a soap opera chronicling lustful intrigues in an Ottoman harem. The premier’s outbursts are not without consequences: The “freakish” sculpture has been demolished, the rock festival has gone dry, and the fictional sultan’s household has started praying.

Religion-based censorship, Bila adds, comes in many forms in Turkey, and “often needs no law to thrive on.”

Like several years ago, when public broadcaster TRT chose not to include “Winnie the Pooh” in a major purchase of Disney cartoons because one of its main heroes, Piglet, was an animal deemed unclean in Islam. Or more recently, when a TRT presenter narrating the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics omitted John Lennon’s appeal for “no religion” when he translated the lyrics of “Imagine,” one of the songs featured in the show.

Up and down the chain of command, judges and bureaucrats are getting the message.

Take, for instance, the $30,000 fine for “insulting religious values” that Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog meted out to a private TV channel in December. The broadcaster had dared show an episode of The Simpsons in which God was shown taking orders from the devil.

I suppose you don’t have to be a religious nanny to not find that funny, but it helps.

[portrait of Fazil Say via]

Saudi Busybody Buzzkill Told To Buzz Off

A report in Gulf News says that a member of the Saudi religious police was forcibly removed from a concert. (Job description when you’re a religious cop: being a holier-than-thou douche by telling other people what is and isn’t suitably Islamic.)

The man was filmed being led away by uniformed members of the Saudi National Guard.

An employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the [Saudi] religious police, was removed from the UAE pavilion at Riyadh’s annual Janadriya cultural festival after he tried to stop a folkloric show performed by young Emiratis, claiming that it was “un-Islamic”.

A short video clip circulated on the internet showed servicemen from the National Guard escorting the man out of the stand while excited spectators could be heard cheering.

The appreciative cheers and jeers are a positive sign. Maybe the Saudi people have had enough of these busybody bluestockings, and are no longer afraid to show it.