TCS Daily


The Myth of Muslim Silence; The Persistence of MSM Silence

By Stephen Schwartz - May 22, 2007 12:00 AM

"Muslim silence" in the face of terrorism has become a predictable cliché in Western discourse. It is now widely believed by non-Muslims throughout the West that no representative of the faith of Muhammad will denounce violence against Jews, Christians, Hindus and others, even though non-fundamentalist Muslims are by far the most numerous victims of terrorism. The very existence of a moderate, pluralist Islam is so widely doubted in the West that it often appears there is no alternative to a war of extremes between those of ill-will on both sides of the cultural and religious divide.

Muslims are not silent in the face of radicalism, extremism, and other ideologies that support terrorism from within the ranks of the Islamic global community, or umma. But Western mainstream media - the MSM - have proven unwilling or incapable of reporting to Western audiences on the personalities embodying the Islamic "counter-jihad," the principles that impel them, or the daily facts of their struggle. When the battle for the mosque is invoked, it is too often done so by commentators who have no idea how this battle shapes up, where its fronts are located, or who represents each trend.

The problem is more that of "MSM silence" than of "Muslim silence." Furthermore, MSM silence about moderate and pluralistic Muslims then filters, or better, refracts through the prejudice of bigots in the media audience, who seek to turn the war against terror into a war against all of Islam. Almost two years ago, on TCSDaily.com, I outlined the basic failure of comprehension in the MSM when faced with the challenge of radical Islam. Ignoring moderate Islam is merely a variation of obliviousness and laziness about radical Islam. In its worst effects, MSM silence about moderate Islam discourages the recruitment of moderates to anti-terrorist activism, but also deters the solidarity of non-Muslims who could otherwise assist moderate Muslims.

There is no more immediate or eloquent example of how these factors affect American public opinion than the recent MSM coverage of the arrests in a terrorist plot to attack Fort Dix, NJ. Four among the six suspects detained in the case turned out to be ethnic Albanians. Certain commentators rushed to declare they were all Albanians from Kosovo, and to reproach them as ungrateful refugees from a war in which the U.S. had intervened to save Muslims. A rage spread through the blogosphere against all Albanians - presumably including Albanian Christians, of whom few onlookers know much, notwithstanding the prominence of the most famous of all modern Albanians, Mother Teresa. It turned out, however, that the three Duka brothers indicted in the conspiracy, Dritan, 28, Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 23, are from the town of Diber in western Macedonia, and not from Kosovo. Nobody in the Western commentariat bothered to apologize to the Kosovar Albanians for their allegations against a whole community, based on supposition, alarmism, and spite.

Furthermore, the Duka brothers had nothing to do with the Kosovo war and refugee influx, but had been brought to the U.S. as small children. While their untrimmed beards appeared a sure marker for their having become adherents of the radical-fundamentalist Wahhabi sect, they did not attend an Albanian mosque in the U.S., but an Arab-Pakistani institution, the South Jersey Islamic Center. As noted in The Washington Post, one member of the congregation declared, "The oldest brother was a funny guy, a joker. But he was not North African or Pakistani, and the language barriers often force us to talk among our own ethnic groups."

Arabs and Pakistanis are, by a far length, the Muslim communities in the West most saturated with fundamentalism. Thus, it took some time for American pundits, or aspirants to that title, to catch up with the dangerous probability that rather than the Fort Dix conspiracy exposing radical Islam among Muslims in the Balkans, it emerged from the underworld created by Wahhabi domination of Sunnism in America. I have repeatedly argued that radical Islamic ideologues have been more successful in imposing conformity on Sunnis in the U.S. and England than in most Muslim countries. Even Saudi Arabia, the source of Wahhabism, is now undergoing mass discontent with the Wahhabi order.

Wahhabi functionaries in America impose silence where they can, but an unfortunate reality remains: few MSM reporters look for authentically-moderate Muslims to interview or publicize. In the Fort Dix case, they appeared thrilled to go to the mosque where the Duka brothers were taught to grow their Wahhabi beards and hear the officials there tell them how moderate everybody was, but all the journalists heard were disclaimers, rather than denunciations of radicalism.

The MSM were also quick to question the suspects' neighbors in Cherry Hill, NJ, and to elicit fairly typical statements about their apparent harmlessness. Some stringers went to Diber, in Macedonia, and appeared surprised to find that the Albanian Sunnis there are overwhelmingly pro-American and religiously moderate. Had they spent more time in the district, they might have found out that the Dibrans, as people from the area are known, include a large contingent of Bektashi Sufis - who claim with justice to be the most progressive Muslims in the world - and Albanian Catholics.

So what is wrong with this picture?

Within two days of the Fort Dix case arrests on May 7, the Presidency of the Albanian Muslim Community in the U.S. and Canada had published the following declaration: "we were shocked and appalled to receive the news of the possible terror act on Fort Dix Military Base in New Jersey. We strongly condemn violence and terrorist activities perpetrated in the name of Islam... we condemn all acts of terrorism. It is forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all humans... this alleged heinous act evokes an acute sense of grief... We are grateful to the US Government and its military forces for helping Muslims... The Presidency of the Albanian Muslim Community in the United States and Canada fully supports United States Government efforts to end terror. We pray for peace and stability in the world. We are against all those 'so-called Muslims' who misuse and humiliate Islam and create ugly images of the Muslim people... We pray to Almighty God to save and protect the United States."

This statement of the Albanian Sunni clerics, representing all of their community's mosques in North America, was posted by the organization I helped found, the Center for Islamic Pluralism. But it was ignored by the MSM. You can check it on Google. When a friend of mine e-mailed it to one of his American acquaintances, the latter said it was the first such statement by a Muslim leader he had ever seen.

The leader of the Bektashi Sufis in Macedonia, Baba Edmond Brahimaj, about whom I had written as one of the "people on our side", two weeks before the Fort Dix conspiracy arrests, was quick to assure U.S. diplomatic representatives in Macedonia that his community will always support America. That item was also destined to be overlooked by the MSM. And so were many more, from Muslim figures in the Albanian worldwide diaspora, in Macedonia, in Kosovo and in Albania itself.

How many Albanian Muslims - many of whom speak perfect English - appeared on television news in the wake of the Fort Dix arrests? The MSM is pleased to interview Islamist radicals, and equally happy to broadcast the views of Islamophobes, but cannot make the effort to locate a genuinely moderate Muslim representative from a community targeted for recruitment by radicals. Many more such examples could be cited, from the Arab states, Turkey, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and even Iran. From September 11, 2001 until now, moderate Muslim clerics and intellectuals around the world have declared their condemnation of Al-Qaida and other extremists. Their voices are unheard, not always because they are suppressed by or fear Muslim radicals, but because they have no access to the MSM.

But the burgeoning fear of Islam in the West feeds the appeal of radicalism among Muslims, both inside and outside the Islamic world. Western media could play a significant role in alleviating the threat of a "clash of civilizations." That might, according to some journalists, violate their objectivity - although journalistic objectivity should not mean neutrality in the face of evil. Others profess politically-correct values and claim they want to contribute to positive change in the world, but many among that cohort habitually regurgitate, if they do not directly support, the claims of radical Islam.

As a moderate Muslim, I have often been asked if I am an apostate from Judaism. I am not, as I have explained here. But in contending with Western media errors regarding a test more serious than any the world has faced in decades, I confess to believing I am an apostate from journalism.


Categories:

9 Comments

An Apostate From Journalism
Glory Hallelujah!

We're free at last to go back to reading Chris Hitchens' celebration of the most famous Albanian since John Belushi.

Bon Voyage , Steve.

MSM Truth
Any media outlet will print only what they want you to read (see or hear) and what they can make a buck with. Evidence: New York Times will sell our nation's secrets to anyone with two U.S. dollars in their pocket.

How to find a moderate Muslim in a haystack of ideological hate and rage
Should be the title of this article.

The very notion of the MSM looking to portray Muslims as extremists is laughable. The MSN in America has bent over backwards so far as to now be in a dogmatic pretzel to portray Islam as the religion of peace. No doubt there are some moderate Muslims in the world. But as was pointed out in the comments in the author's last article he is on record as supporting Sharia law. Let's face facts here if you support the use of Sharia law any where for any reason then you are an enemy of freedom and democracy period!
Sharia law is diametrically opposed to democracy and free people no amount of intellectual gymnastics will change this. Islam is is fundamentally flawed as an ideology and/or a belief system. Take Iran for example, no doubt there are many there if not most in the country that view the west favorably and would prefer to be secular. So what do they end up with? You guessed it ruled by an Ayatollah and don't forget their current "elected" (a shining example of how Muslim run countries will always wind up) nut job president. Does the author chalk this up to the Wahabi and Pakistani influence in Iran? Pleeease!! An Islamic ruled country will always result with a strong man at the top. Just as Friedrich Hayek showed that communism always leads to fascism so does Islam. No amount of hair splitting by the author or the too willing to portray Islam as a religion of peace MSM will change this. Where does the author have to go to find "moderate" Muslims to prop up his thesis? Some of the tinyest countries in the world whist ignoring the bulk of Muslim countries around the globe. I too wanted to believe in moderate Islam but like my belief in Santa Clause after I grew up and examined the evidence it is obvious there is no such thing as moderate Islam. At Islam's core is only the hatred of the west, of Jews, subjagation of women and the general backwardness of all Muslim run countries. Where are the sucessfully run Muslim countries? Islam needs a reformation to coexist in the modern world with her neighbors. Till this happens I expect only more of the same from the religion of peace.
You can call a turd an icream cone all day long but calling a turd an icream cone does not make it an icecream cone.
Phillip

Saudi money anywhere?
Could it be that Saudi money, which funds most mosques in the USA, be influencing the MSM?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Rushdie,....
How many muslims who speak out are in fear of being murdered by their fellow, peace loving muslims?

More proof Stephen Schwartz is right...
From just last month:

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy regularly speaks out against Islamist terrorism -- and was censored from the documentary, "Islam vs. Islamists", by the censors at PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which funded the film with $675,000 of the taxpayers' monies.

See this article: PBS Censorship

PBS Censorship
Don't know why the link to the "PBS Censorship" article link didn't appear, but it's in RealClearPolitics:

http://realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/04/the_mainstream_media_islamist.html

Secular behavior...
I don't think most Americans give two hoots what anyone in any other country wants to believe about God or gods... Really, we were taught to mind our own business.

This is not at all about religion or religious tolerance. This is about social behavior. If a culture is combative (and all the societies of the Middle East are confrontational, according to me) then keep that sort of thing over there. If you come to America, then you know very well that we operate differently. What may be fine for you back home in the Old Country simply doesn't work for us.

People in the Philippines, for example, have a fundamentally different view regarding what is reasonable behavior over there and what might be done here. Those of you who are Pinoy know exactly what I mean. When we are here we follow the American rules and we call the police...or risk going to jail for something we would immediately take care of ourselves back in Imus (ala mo na).

It seems astounding that the Islamic populations in Europe struggle so much not to integrate themselves into British and French society, for example. Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps, this image is mostly as portrayed by their media. Or it may be that the European natives themselves are not so "welcoming".

Nevertheless, and as a great American philosopher once implored: "Why can't we all just get along?"

This author, bless his heart, is very much a religious spokesman. Really. We don't need to hear anything about any of this from their priests. We don't even listen to our own priests.

We want to hear their secular leaders tell us what they are going to do about controlling the misbehavior of their civilian populations. And then we want to see those guys deliver.

Because, aside from our momentary confusion trying to bring democracy and economic prosperity to societies that are not yet ready to join us in this century...we do indeed stand ready to pound the "bejesus" out of any nation that ever physically attacks America again. Right back to the Powell Doctrine.

One might forgive us if we get the nationalities and the history confused. Some of us were out that day. We have only recently come to understand that there is a Shiite and a Sunni dichotomy and that they both hate us...so we might not really care how much they hate each other.

Did any of them understand the problem with the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland? Did any of us care whether or not the Palestinians understood our own particular Christian stupidity?

I'm going with Rodney King on this one.

MSM attitudes
I agree strongly with the post. However, I think the current war is not between "moderate" Muslims and conservative" Muslims so much as between Orthdox Muslims such as Mr. Schwartz and the heretical brand of Islam espoused by many, if not most, of the jihadis.

I never read in the MSM, for example, that, in the earliest days of last summer's Israeli--Hezbollah war, a top Saudi cleric declared a fatwah against supporting Hezbollah in any way including praying for it. But it was issued.

Re Forest's comments regarding religious v secular spokesmen: the role of the cleric in Islamic countries in shaping public opinion is much greater than that of priests in today's Christian--even Catholic--countries. One overall key to this struggle is for the orthodox Muslim clerics to point out that Wahabism and its jihadi cousins are not following orthodox Islam, as their supporters claim, but rather a perverse and unIslamic heresy.

Such statements--and there have been many--must get into the mainstream media as much or more than the occasional radical call by self-appointed spokesmen for Islam. Only in this way will the call for "jihad" by the heretical be blunted.

But these statements do not fit into the MSM "worldview" and so are ignored, as the above comment on PBS points out. The MSM appear to believe that the real enemy is not heretical, Wahabi Islam and its cousins, but the Bush Administration. This is a mistake that I hope and pray will not prove fatal to the West.

TCS Daily Archives