Culture Ethics

Muslim Americans fear demonization of Islam after mass shooting

The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to lead their own prayers at the cathedral for the first time Friday (Nov. 14, 2014). Photo courtesy of Lisa Helfert/Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to lead their own prayers at the cathedral for the first time Friday (Nov. 14, 2014). Photo courtesy of Lisa Helfert/Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to lead their own prayers at the cathedral for the first time Friday (Nov. 14, 2014). Photo courtesy of Lisa Helfert/Washington National Cathedral

(Reuters) Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States.

Across the country, Muslim Americans responded with shock and outrage after a shooting in which authorities said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, stormed a holiday party attended by San Bernardino County employees in California on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 21.

“I was at the gym yesterday while the shooting was taking place and all the TVs were showing that footage and all I could keep thinking to myself is ‘God, I hope they don’t have any Eastern descent, not just Middle Eastern, anything we’d associate with a Muslim’,” said Adam Hashem, 32, in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with one of the country’s largest Muslim populations.

“We’re all worried. We’re all concerned,” he said.

It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre three years ago. While the motivation remained unclear as authorities investigated the attack, details of Farook and Malik began to emerge. Farook was described as a second-generation American born in Illinois and raised by Pakistani parents. Malik was born in Pakistan and lived in Saudi Arabia until she was introduced to Farook.

San Bernardino police said they found pipe bombs and several thousands rounds of ammunition at the residence of the couple, who died in a shoot-out with police.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Attari Supermarket bustled on Thursday (Dec. 3) with customers shopping for Middle Eastern products.

“In every culture and in every religion there are bad apples that will spoil the rest of the apples. That has happened toward us,” said Dawod Dawod, a 25-year-old Muslim American, who manages the store that his family has owned for a decade.

Between taking orders over the phone, Dawod said he was concerned that politicians will use the mass shooting as a way to further demonize Muslims. He noted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s endorsement of the idea of creating a Muslim database.

“It’s scary.” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are hardworking, good people.”

Muslim community groups condemned the massacre and urged the public not to blame Islam or Muslims.

“The Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans in repudiating any twisted mindset that would claim to justify such sickening acts of violence,” said Hussam Ayloush, an executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Within hours of the shooting, his group had organized a news conference with Los Angeles Muslim leaders and the brother of suspected shooter Malik to condemn the assault. The speed at which they went on live television underlined the depth of concerns in a community already buffeted by a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric this year and increased public scrutiny after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State militants.

Some Muslims say they have felt singled out during a presidential race that has tapped a vein of anger and bigotry — from comments by Trump to those by fellow Republican candidate Ben Carson, who said in September Muslims were unfit for the presidency of the United States. There are some 2.8 million Muslims in the country.


Some Muslims questioned whether this week’s shooting will embolden supporters of Trump, who is a front-runner and who has backed the idea of requiring all Muslims living in the United States to register in a special database as a counter-terrorism measure.

Critics have also accused Trump of stirring resentment toward Muslims by asserting that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. That claim has been disputed by public officials.

Faizul Khan, 74, an Imam at the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, said he was “horrified” by the San Bernardino shooting. “Unfortunately people don’t understand that we as Muslims, we basically want to promote what is good and just for the entire humanity.”

He said he feared the shooting would strengthen calls to increase surveillance on mosques.

Jersey City real-estate agent Magdy Ali, 52 and of Egyptian descent, said he uses the name Alex when working to avoid conflict with people who distrust Islam. He said he expects Trump to use Wednesday’s massacre to push for anti-Muslim measures such as monitoring of U.S. mosques.

“We are in a jam right now,” he said.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman, Ruthy Munoz, Brendan O’Brien, Ian Simpson, Mary Wisniewski and Barbara Liston)

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  • When a tiny minority of Catholic priests were found to have been abusing young people, they and their whole religion became a target for contempt. After an unfortunately long time, the authorities cleaned up their act. 96% of priests were never involved and 75% of the cases took place over 30 years ago. Yet the stigma remains and a field day may still be had without repercussions to the critics. Any Catholic complaint is seen as pitiful whining.

    Yet when Muslims kill and maim innocents precisely in the name of their religion –which they are still doing as I write– it’s the Muslims and their religion who are the special snowflake “victims” of “intolerance” and the Alice-In-Wonderland condition of “Islamophobia.” Their co-religionists kill our people and we are supposed to worry about their feelings.

    Let the Muslims clean their house –including renouncing violent jihad–the way the Catholics did and maybe then, maybe, they’ll get an ounce of sympathy from me.

  • There is an easy solution for any of their fears. Simply announce to the world that they are joining the NONES and back it up by cutting all mythology contacts and financial support.

  • You misrepresent the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
    Any large organization will have some members that act criminally. The horror is when the leaders of the organization cover up the crimes and blame the victims to escape responsibility.
    Please explain that.

  • Clear that we should not demoninize al Muslims, but the fact that the HATE is coming from Saudi Arabia with the Wahhabism the least we should do is NOT TO LET SAUDIS’ to pray in Mosque in USA soil.

  • Yes, there was celebration in New Jersey that was denounced by the neighbors and when the police caught up with them in a bridge the showed their ID and proved they were from Israel and told police: We are Israelis look for the Palestinians they did it.

  • “Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are hardworking, good people.” True, true. Let’s say if you live in a neighborhood with 100 Muslims, what is the mathematical probability of one of your neighbors will start a killing spree?

  • This is the response of Muslims to Islamist attacks: whining about being discriminated against, hoping shooters are not Muslim just so they won’t be blamed. No concern for those murdered in Islamist terror attacks. If they don’t want us to destroy Islam, they need to stop their fellow Muslims in their tracks.

    “Religion of Peace”? Blood-stained hypocrites.

  • There are apparently many “religious people” today who have an appearance of godly devotion but are proving false to its power (2 Timothy 3:5) in these last days of a wicked era.

  • Unfortunately, I agree. There is enough in the Koran that can easily be assessed as supporting violence against all non-muslims in the course of jihad. There was a time , the middle ages, in which Christians murdered non-Christians for their disbelief and yes there were uses of Christian belief to harm or murder non-Christians even in the 20th Century sig. Hitler’s perversion of Christian faith and the perversion of the faith by the hooded men of the clan but fortunately, Christianity has cleaned up its act. In the name of the God of Abraham my Jewish ancestors of the years before Christ fought enemy nations for the right to practice their religion or at worst for space on which to live. Other than a few radical Jewish orthodox, Jews don’t fight the other because they are” other” and Jews have never proselytized. This is not the case with Islam.
    We have reason to ask the adherents of Mohammed who wish to deal with the West to give up world Jihad or suffer our suspicions.

  • It’s a media buried fact, and yet you know it, Donald trump knows it, millions of other people know it, and yet there is no video to show it.