Sunday, June 25, 2017

Perspective: Interfaith events excellent way to thwart senseless violence | Zohaib Zafar


While Obama would not use the term "radical Islam," a point of contention for Trump, Trump ignores the root cause of more than half of terrorism that has occurred since 2002.

Sharing beliefs perpetuates tolerance (file photo) 
Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Cleveland.com
By Zohaib Zafar | June 25, 2017

A few weeks ago, in the Portland train attacks, three people were stabbed after they tried protecting two teenage girls from a terrorist named Jeremy Christian. One of the two girls was Muslim and wore the hijab. Christian told the girls they were nothing and that they should kill themselves, and he also reportedly said, "Muslims should die."

It took three days for any condemnation of this terrorist attack to be displayed on President Trump's social media. Furthermore, Trump's response was tweeted using the Twitter account that he inherited from President Obama and not his own account, thus he did not reach many of his supporters.

Trump is very quick to condemn terrorist attacks that Muslims perpetrate in the West, but when they are perpetrated by those who are not Muslim, the response is not immediate, and often there is no response at all. If Trump continues to do this, he will leave a legacy in which he was more committed to serving his political interests than the safety of Americans.

The two people who died in the Portland train attacks were not even Muslim. They were two Americans who unselfishly gave up their lives to protect two women from an anti-Muslim terrorist. Recently Trump tweeted six times about the June 2017 London attacks but there was no tweet for Timothy Caughman who was killed by a white supremacist in March. There was no tweet for Richard Collins III, an African American who was stabbed to death recently on the University of Maryland campus, allegedly by a member of the white supremacist "Alt-Reich: Nation."

Many might argue that these brutal murders are "right-wing violence" and not domestic terrorism, but according to Arie Perliger, a terrorism expert, domestic terrorism is "the use of violence in a political and social context that aims to send a message to a broader target audience."

Is this not what these white supremacists were trying to do? Furthermore, Perliger writes in Newsweek that "a report initially published in 2014 by New America Foundation on domestic incidents of extremist violence shows that excluding the Orlando nightclub massacre, between 2002-2016, far-right affiliated perpetrators conducted 18 attacks that killed 48 people in the United States, while terrorists motivated by al-Qaida's or the Islamic State's ideology killed 45 people in nine attacks." While Obama would not use the term "radical Islam," a point of contention for Trump, Trump ignores the root cause of more than half of terrorism that has occurred since 2002.

June coincides with Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. Muslims are taught to fast from dawn to sunset for 30 days and improve themselves spiritually, something taught in every religion. In light of this, my religious community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, hosted an interfaith event on at our mosque in Bedford. Six representatives of different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism spoke on the importance of fasting and discipline. Interfaith events are one of the best ways to eliminate right-wing terrorism from America.

If Jeremy Christian had Muslim friends, perhaps Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche would still be alive today.


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Guest columnist Zohaib Zafar is a graduate student at Cleveland State University and a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America.

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