Hugh Fitzgerald: Hannah Allam Advises Journalists: Islam Is Unfairly Treated (Part One)


Hannah Allam is a Muslim journalist, formerly at Buzzfeed, who wants you to believe that Islam is unfairly covered by the American media:

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Research has shown that media coverage of Islam is overwhelmingly negative. Often Islam is depicted as a violent religion and Muslim women, wearing head coverings, as oppressed.  Even though Islam is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism (and the second largest religion in the world), many Americans do not know a Muslim personally. News, therefore, plays an important role in forming opinions about Muslims.

Media coverage of Islam is not “overwhelmingly negative.” There have been endless stories about Muslim women who claim that they freely choose to go covered, but very few about those who are forced to do so. Then there are all the accounts about Muslim professionals, chiefly engineers and doctors, making their way in American society, living the American dream, but also taking time to “explain” Islam to unwary Infidels at Open-Mosque and Ask-A-Muslim-Anything Events. Other articles, such as those by Mustafa Akyol, hasten to reassure us about the “liberalism” of young Muslims in America.

The two new Muslim Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, initially received positive media attention for the “diversity” they would bring to Congress. Their antisemitic remarks were largely downplayed before they were elected, and afterwards, when those remarks  became known, and new ones followed that were even more disturbing, there was some criticism, but not enough to truly damage their careers. There was Rashida Tlaib’s tweet about legislators pushing anti-BDS laws that showed “they forgot what country they represent” (let’s member that at her victory party, Tlaib wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag, possibly “forgetting what country she represented”), followed by Ilhan Omar’s canard in claiming that AIPAC “bought” support for Israel — “it’s all about the benjamins, baby.” There was criticism from fellow Democrats, especially for Ilhan Omar, but it was apparently not enough to have her removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee, a plum assignment for a freshman representative, and one in which she may do a lot of damage to Israel.

Every day brings fresh stories from all over America about how Islam “has always been part of America’s story,” factitious tales of  Muslims who supposedly accompanied Columbus, and about how much Jefferson must have respected Islam because he owned a Qur’an, and how every third or fourth slave, it has just recently been discovered, was a Muslim. There is news, too, of interfaith events, always great successes, being held all over the land. Of American casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only one whose story is  known to everyone. That is Hunayun Khan, made much of precisely because he was a Muslim, and thus provided, in his life and death, a stirring narrative about Muslim patriotism that so many have a stake in promoting. That Muslims make up 1.1% of the American population, but are only 0.4% of the military, is never mentioned.

Allam complains that “often Islam is depicted as a violent religion.” Shouldn’t it be? Haven’t there been more than 34,500 terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims since 9/11/2001? In this country haven’t there been — never mind that there have been even more in Europe, where there are many more Muslims — acts of Muslim terrorism. with mass casualties. In New York, Washington, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Fort Hood, Little Rock, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Orlando, and many smaller attacks elsewhere? Does Hannah Allam think reporting on these attacks is somehow unfair to Islam? If they make Islam look bad, should such stories be downplayed?

Allam has it backwards. Islam is, in fact, not “depicted as a violent religion” nearly enough. The Qur’an is full of violence, beginning with the 109 commands for Muslims to wage violent Jihad against the Infidels. But how many Qur’anic verses are brought to the attention of the American public? How many non-Muslim Americans know even one of the following violent verses?

— “And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out; persecution is worse than slaughter. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, kill them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is all-forgiving, all-compassionate. Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.” (Qur’an 2:191-193)

— “We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with Allah of which He had not sent down authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an 3:151)

— “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore do not take friends from among them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, seize them and kill them wherever you find them; do not take for yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)

— “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth to do corruption there: they shall be killed, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall be struck off on opposite sides; or they shall be exiled from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.” (Qur’an 5:33)

— “When your Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers; so strike the necks, and strike every finger of them!” (Qur’an 8:12)

— “Fight them, till there is no persecution and religion is all for Allah; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.” (Qur’an 8:39)

— “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to strike terror into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatever you spend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.” (Qur’an 8:60)

— “Then, when the sacred months are over, kill the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.” (Qur’an 9:5)

— “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not practice the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book — until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29)

— “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur’an; and who fulfills his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.” (Qur’an 9:111)

— “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.” (Qur’an 9:123)

— “So do not weaken and call for peace while you are superior; and Allah is with you and will never deprive you of your deeds.” (Qur’an 47:35)

— “When you meet the unbelievers, strike their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads.” (Qur’an 47:4)

In the 18 years since the 9/11 attacks, have any of those Qur’an verses appeared even once in the major media? Has even one of those verses  been quoted on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, the BBC? Has even one appeared in the pages of The Washington Post or The New York Times? Of course not.

It can be challenging for journalists to sort through the many misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam and provide an accurate portrayal of the 3.45 million Muslims estimated to be living in the U.S. as of 2017.

What are those “misconceptions” [about Islam] and “stereotypes” [about Muslims] that we are apparently being overwhelmed with? Is it a “misconception” to claim that the texts of Islam promote violence against Unbelievers? Not at all. Read, again, the verses I’ve just quoted above: Qur’an 2:191-194, 3;151, 4:89, 5:33, 8:12, 8:39, 8:60, 9:5,9:29, 9:111, 9:123, 47:35, 47:4. See, too, Muhammad’s boast, in a famous hadith, that “I have been made victorious through terror.” And what are the “stereotypes” about Muslims to which she objects? That Muslim families are run by the fathers, who have enormous power over their wives and children, including the right to punish them for any infraction, as they see fit? Isn’t it true that Muslim women are taught to be subservient to their husbands, who may “beat” them if they are disobedient? Isn’t it true that Muslims tend to keep apart from non-Muslims, except insofar as a feigned friendship helps them to better defend or promote Islam,  because the Qur’an instructs them that they are not to take “Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?” What other “stereotypes” about Muslims does Hannah Allam believe are unfair?

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