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Robert Spencer: Why did the NY Deputy Police Commissioner say NYC jihad massacre “isn’t about Islam”?


In a press conference after Sayfullo Saipov’s vehicular jihad massacre in Manhattan, New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller said, “This isn’t about Islam, this isn’t about the mosque he attends.” As he retailed this arrant nonsense, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stood behind him, nodding gravely.

Yet the repetition of a falsehood doesn’t make it any less false. In reality, Saipov had a massive amount of Islamic State material on his phone, and a note in his attack truck that said, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” Clearly he thinks his attack was about Islam, even if Miller doesn’t.

And the NYPD suspected Saipov’s mosque of terror ties over a decade before his massacre. How, then, can Miller be sure that his mosque had nothing to do with the attack?

He can’t, of course. Miller is making his claim that the attack has nothing to do with Islam or Saipov’s mosque not on the basis of any evidence, but on the basis of fear.

Yes, fear. Miller is afraid that if he acknowledges the obvious Islamic character of Saipov’s attack, he will be accused of “Islamophobia,” and his career will be ruined.

A Police Commissioner is supposed to be an impartial investigator, going wherever the evidence takes him. But Miller has effectively announced that he is not an unbiased investigator, and will not pursue lines of inquiry that lead him to ask uncomfortable questions about Islam or Saipov’s mosque.

Miller is not singular. In fact, not just some, but most public officials today would do exactly what he is doing. But is it wise? What if Saipov’s crime does have something to do with Islam, and with his mosque? Wouldn’t that be useful to know in attempt to prevent future massacres of this kind? Knowing one’s enemy enables one to devise effective ways to counter him.

While maintaining this has nothing to do with Islam, Miller is expecting truck rental companies to say something if they see something. He said last Wednesday: “We did extensive outreach to the truck rental business. We visited over 148 truck rental locations in this area. The industry has had a high level of awareness on this matter from the NYPD.” And “Miller said that if a company is suspicious of a would-be renter, they usually delay or simply deny a rental to let police investigate.”

Really? The companies deny rentals to suspicious characters? Is that so?

Sayfullo Saipov, the New York City truck jihad mass murderer, looks like a jihadi. But to acknowledge that would be to engage in racial profiling, and given the decidedly Islamic style of his facial hair (a hadith depicts Muhammad telling Muslims to trim their mustaches but not their beards, because the Jews and Christians trim their beards but not their mustaches), religious profiling, a manifestation of “Islamophobia,” as well.

Imagine now that you were the clerk at Home Depot when Saipov came in to rent his truck. You notice his beard, his demeanor, his overall appearance. But you know that what reporting him would be. It would be racist. Bigoted. Islamophobic. Just because this fellow looks like a jihadi doesn’t mean that he is one. After all, John Miller says this isn’t about Islam. You wouldn’t want to lose your job. You’d wouldn’t want to be known and hated nationwide as an “Islamophobe.”

But why would a clerk hesitate in such a situation? Because of the words of John Miller and so many others like him.

This is the focus of my new book, Confessions of an Islamophobe: how fear of being branded “Islamophobic” is causing massive numbers of people to perform their jobs incompetently, as in Miller’s case, and to overlook or excuse numerous human rights abuses that otherwise they would strongly oppose. Find out about the peculiar phenomenon of “Islamophobia,” and why it is so important to counter it — but not in the way John  Miller thinks — in Confessions of an Islamophobe. Preorder your copy here now.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. Coming in November is his new book Confessions of an Islamophobe. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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