Zawahri : What’s in a name? - updated 6/12/13

Sheila Musaji

Posted Jun 10, 2013      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Zawahri : What’s in a name?

by Sheila Musaji

After the terrible and tragic shooting in Santa Monica, when the name of the perpetrator was released, there was a lot of chatter online and on social media.

Pat Dollard posted Muslim Terror Attack? Santa Monica Shooter Has Same Last Name As Al Qaeda Leader.  The Jawa Report posted Jihad Definitely Ruled Out in Mass Shooting by Guy Who’s Last Name is “Zawahiri”.  The WV Tea Party posted Jihad in America or just hidden from the media out of political correctness? - Santa Monica College shooting.  Gateway Pundit posted Santa Monica Shooter Identified – Middle East Name – John Zawahri.  Bare Naked Islam posted SUDDEN JIHAD SYNDROME? Was the Santa Monica gunman who killed 6 people yesterday a Muslim?.  V Dare posted If A Maniac With A Middle Eastern Name Shoots A Bunch Of Americans, Inquiring Minds Want To Know If He’s A Muslim, Don’t They? Well, Don’t They?

Themes running through these and other posts on the Islamophobia echo chamber were that the name sounded Muslim, that the enemedia is hiding the truth, that law enforcement did not release the name immediately because they are covering for Muslim jihadists, etc.  Even the Guardian Express posted an article which included this drivel:

... ” So, why did neither the mainstream news outlets, nor the authorities, release the gunman’s identity sooner? Political correctness is the answer ...  As if it wasn’t mortifying enough that this killer wasn’t a lily-white, right-wing ‘extremist’, it turns out that he was probably Muslim, which will give rise to the strong possibility that this shooting was motivated by sympathies towards Islamist fundamentalism.

The Obama administration, along with almost all Democrats and Liberals, go to great pains to ignore the threat of Muslim extremism; to them, denial is, quite definitely, a river in Egypt.  ...  Will it turn out that John Zawahri was motivated by Islamist notions of jihad? We may never know, as the authorities at both the state and federal level – with the willing co-operation of the mainstream, left-wing media – will cover up, or simply ignore, any such connections.

Lots of supposition, few facts.  From what is known this was a premeditated act by an individual named John Zawahri who had a lot of weapons including a semi-automatic weapon.  Zawahri had previously been hospitalized for mental issues, and had family problems.  His family was originally from Lebanon. 

There are a lot of legitimate questions to ask about this crime.  How and where did he get the weapons, especially with a history of serious mental health issues, what was his motive, was this an act of domestic terrorism, etc.  What was his religion is not a legitimate question unless that question is going to be asked of all perpetrators of such acts of violence. 

If he is a Muslim does that automatically change the fact that he was mentally ill and turn this into an act of terrorism?Muslims can be crazy, criminal, or perverted too!.  If he is a Christian, does that mean that his religion is irrelevant, and that this can’t be domestic terrorism?

What is different about cases of non-Muslims committing such crimes is that the headlines will not include the religion of the perpetrator, and Islamophobes will take no notice of such crimes at all.  In the article Selective reporting of the religion of criminals this is discussed at length, including many examples of specific cases, and of the double standards commonly found in news reporting.  The article Can only Muslims be terrorists? discusses the specific case of Robert Jay Goldstein as an illustration of this double standard.  And, the article When a Non-Muslim Does It, That Means It’s Not Terrorism discusses this same issue in relation to the recent ricin letters case.

I was surprised in reading the articles from the Islamophobia echo chamber on this John Zawahri case, that I saw nothing from Pamela Geller or her partner Robert Spencer.  This is very unusual, as they are usually leading the pack.   Here are just a few ridiculous claims about nonsensical Muslim jihad plots almost all of which Geller and Spencer were involved in spreading:

An Eid Celebration for Muslim Special Needs Kids was described as a “stealth jihad”.  A children’s page in a newspaper focusing on Eid was described as a toxic propaganda plot.  Joel Hinrichs (a Christian) had a beard and had walked through the parking lot of a campus mosque thus proving that his crime was an example of sudden jihad syndrome.  Leon Alphans Traille, Jr., the Arlington, Virginia Mall Bomber was accused of possible “sudden jihad syndrome” just because he had a beard, obviously, a case of beard jihad.  Tyler Brehm who carried out the Hollywood shooting jihad was accused of “sudden jihad syndrome” because he shouted something that one witness from the Philippines said he might have shouted “Allahu Akbar”.  This report was not backed up by any other witnesses.  The awful April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech by a Korean student was also called Islamic jihad because Cho’s father had once worked in Saudi Arabia (before he was married and before Cho was born).  A Muslim doctor had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car which then crashed into a shopping mall and this was described as “vehicular jihad”.  A Muslim cab driver objected to what he considered pornographic ads on the roof of his cab, and that became a stealth-jihad plot to impose Sharia on America.  Any Muslim who has sued an employer for violation of their rights under the EEOC is engaged in employment jihad, or litigation jihad.  Muslim environmentalists are said to be actually engaged in “civilizational jihad”.  A cartoon series “The 99” aimed at young Muslims was described as “cultural jihad”.  The victims of the terrorist attack of 9/11 included Muslims, they were accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihad. Muslims hoped to open a Muslim hospital in the U.S. and that was called hospital jihad.

The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking” Muslim jihad plots.  They have uncovered:

bumper sticker jihadThanksgiving turkey jihadpaisley scarf jihadmarriage to important men jihadspit jihad —  fashion jihadspelling bee jihadrape jihaddefacing dollar bills jihadpopulation jihadcreeping Sharia jihad —  mosque building jihadterror baby jihad“creeping Sharia” jihadpedophilia jihadbus driver prayer jihadforehead bruise jihadpostage stamp jihadsoup jihad —  banning alcohol jihadfake hate crimes jihadpiggy bank jihadtv reality series jihadhandshake jihadprom jihadinterfaith jihadArabic language jihadpublic school jihadreligious accommodation jihadCrescent moon jihadChristmas tree tax jihadoath of office jihadimmigration jihad community fundraiser jihadpublic school/madrassa jihadpost office jihadfood jihadpyramid jihadcrucifixion jihad in Egyptfireworks jihadcomputer donation jihadcivic participation jihadOlympic “judo” jihadstealth name jihadpre-violent jihadLove jihadfashion jihad 2#MyJihad ad jihadtalk show host jihadart museum jihadHalloween jihadDNC Muslim Prayer Jihadcat crucifixion jihad in GhanaScottish Muslim women’s stealth jihadanti-democracy jihadun-neighborly Musims in Paris jihadjihad on Christopher ColumbusIranian smallpox jihadMuslim Christmas grinch jihad#MyJihad twitter jihadMuslim takeover of National Parks jihad


Nothing is too trivial to escape the eagle eyes of these “defenders of Western civilization” against devious Muslim stealth jihad plots.  Christina Abraham (a Muslim) has a name that is not recognizably Muslim enough and so we have stealth name jihad. And, if a Muslim somewhere is not doing anything at all suspicious, then they are engaged in pre-violent jihad.

It has now been four days since the shooting in Santa Monica, and still nothing from Spencer and Geller.  Why?

I believe that I can make an educated guess.  The reason is that the name Zawahri is as likely to be Christian as it is to be Muslim.  If the family is originally from Lebanon, there is a large Christian population there.  Some news reports have said that the family had connections in Ohio.  Ohio has a large population of Christian Arabs, and in fact, the website of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Akron, Ohio lists an individual named Samer Zawahri as a 2012 St. George Young Adult Co- President.  The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America also lists a Dana Zawahri as NAC SOYO Unity Committee Coordinator   In fact, the name Zawahri turns up many times in the listings of activities and members of Antiochian Orthodox churches in the U.S.  At least one blog site has claimed knowledge of the fact that Zawahri in fact is a Christian. 

Robert Spencer is a Deacon at Our Lady of the Cedars Melkite Greek Catholic Church.  Spencer would have been aware of the fact that the name Zawahri might be Christian, and that there is an effort to reunite the Melkite Greek Catholic and Antiochian Orthodox Christian churches. 

I seriously doubt that Robert Spencer would want to draw attention to the fact that John Zawahri is probably an Arab Christian, and I would imagine that he would have advised Pamela Geller not to get involved in this particular witch-hunt.

The religion of John Zawahri has not yet been made public.  But, I would hope that in this and all future cases, either the religion of every perpetrator is considered an integral part of the story, or the religion of none is considered an integral part of the story.

UPDATE 6/11/2013

Think Progress reports that Santa Monica Mass Shooter Planned To Kill Hundreds With Stockpile Of Guns And Ammo.  “... It is not clear where Zawahri got a hold of his AR-15 — the same weapon used in the Aurora theater shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last year. Technically, certain AR-15 rifles are prohibited in California, but critics have said the law is rendered essentially toothless by loopholes and legal challenges. In May, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a new law to give law enforcement more funding to crack down on illegal assault weapons owned by convicted criminals and people with serious mental illnesses. ...”

UPDATE 6/12/2013

It has now been confirmed that John Zawahri and his family are Christians, and that his parents Samir Zawahri and Randa Abdou, were immigrants from Lebanon.  Still no statement by Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller, but the equally strident Debbie Schlussel published a screed in which she said:

...  Whether they are Christian or Muslim, this is the culture of the Arab Middle East. They are violent and don’t settle things peacefully and civilly. It’s “in the blood.” As I’ve frequently noted on this site, Egyptian Copts (also Christians) are extremely violent and bloody and led Muslims in pogroms against Jews in Egypt. The Copts and the Greek and Syrian Orthodox were helping HAMAS and Hezbollah. That’s their “brethren.”

And when we bring more and more of these Arab immigrants to this country, we cannot be surprised when more and more innocents are murdered by them. They bring their backward culture, backward mores, and backward way of dealing with problems to this country. And since we make no effort whatsoever to force them to civilize and absorb into American society (instead, we bend over backward because we’re “not supposed to judge”), we will have more and more of this.

Undue “conservative” Faux-Hero/Genuine Crook, Congressman Darrell Issa, is a great example of this. His Syrian Orthodox family came here from Lebanon, and he led a life of crime–arson (the two police investigators mysteriously died), multiple car thefts (including from fellow soldiers), going AWOL, fraud, stealing (including the company that made him a multi-millionaire and many patents of others)–to get where he is. To say so isn’t a “smear,” as far too many blind, partisan “conservatives” vomited, when Obama supporters rightly brought it up. It’s the truth. And Issa–a self-proclaimed Christian–embraced Arafat, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s their culture–yes, usually EVEN if they are Christian. And it’s Issa’s culture. Arab culture. Violence, murder, and other crime is their way.

That’s how it goes in Lebanon, and that’s how it goes when they come here. To ignore that or make excuses or dismiss this as bigotry is to be an idiot wearing a hat and mask of sand. ...

Unbelievable that these folks don’t consider that immigrants from war zones might be more likely to have PTSD or other mental problems and might be more likely than others to act out violently. 

Not to see statements like those of Schlussel which so quickly morphed from anti-Muslim to anti-Arab as being bigoted really is “to be an idiot”.