Geller & Spencer’s Selective Concern for Houses of Worship
by Sheila Musaji
Pamela Geller posted a tweet yesterday including the #MyJihad hashtag. She and her minions have been attempting to overwhelm this American Muslim #MyJihad campaign (Motto: “Taking back Jihad one hashtag at a time from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists. Taking back Islam.”) with hateful comments. In this one, she said In Serbia, Kosovo Muslims destroy Christian Monastery and provided a link to an article on her site which is simply a re-posting of the same article from her partner Robert Spencer’s site. Both of them limit themselves to a few snide comments including the reference to #MyJihad and link to an article on a Serbian Orthodox Church site.
This article which is the only source for any mention of this incident anywhere says that the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin has been completely destroyed by Albanians. The article is not translated well, but mentions that a door was smashed, icons were broken, and money from candle sales stolen. Mother Paraskeva, a local 62 year old woman is the only source given for any of this. Vandalism and theft are not the same as “destroyed”. Unknown perpetrators are not automatically “Albanians” or “Muslims”.
The story has also appeared on other extreme right wing sites, all referring to the same original article from OCI I can find no independent source for this “news” item. If a monastery was “completely destroyed” anywhere that would be in the news. This seems to be yet another example of how such exaggerated stories go viral when the Islamophobic echo chamber repeats them endlessly.
When searching recent news for “monastery vandalized” or “church vandalized”, or “monastery destroyed”, I did find these:
— Jerusalem monastery vandalized for second time: “A monastery in Jerusalem was vandalized for the second time this year in an apparent price tag attack. Graffiti reading “Victory for the Maccabees,” “Happy Chanukah” and “price tag” were spray-painted on the walls of the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem. Three tires on a car parked near the building were slashed and graffiti spray painted on it as well.”
— Anti-Christian graffiti sprayed on church in destroyed Galilee village of Bir’em “The internally displaced community of Bir’em found abusive graffiti, stars of David and the word ‘revenge’ sprayed on its church, graveyard and other buildings.”
—For the second time in two weeks, Israeli settlers stormed the historical Mosque of the Prophet Daud in Jerusalem, and they broke the ceramic and marble tiles covering three walls. The tiles date back to the 17th century.
— Man arraigned in vandalism of Coptic Church in Charlton “A 19-year-old man, Zachary Yurasha allegedly went on a vandalism and burglary spree at the Holy Virgin Mary Spiritual Vineyard Coptic Church, an Arabic Christian church, drawing graffiti..” He also defaced images of Christ, drew an inverted pentagram on the forehead of a mosaic of the Christ Child, and gouged out the eyes of a Virgin Mary.
— A lot of churches were vandalized in the U.S. Rio Rancho, NM, Los Angeles, CA, Tacoma, WA, Lawton, OK, Duluth, MN, Dripping Springs, TX, and, a church in Walker County, AL was set on fire. Churches in the U.S. that experienced arson attacks: Hillcrest, CA, Stokesdale, NC, Kilauea, HI, NY, NY, Oconto, CO. Churches destroyed by arson attacks: Lafollette, TN, Valdosta, GA
Going back just a little farther in my searches, I found these:
— In 2012 alone there were a lot of attacks on houses of worship perceived to be Muslim or Arab, and a number of incidents of actual anti-Muslim violence, and hate crimes. In fact, there were 17 of them in a 3-month period. Since August, when the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek Wisconsin was attacked and 6 innocent people were killed there have been in addition to crimes against houses of worship, at least six attacks and even murders of individuals perceived to be Muslim or Arab.
— There have been a lot of attacks (including vandalism, arson, destruction) on churches and mosques carried out by Jews in Israel/Palestine: - Arson which destroyed a West Jerusalem Baptist Church - Muslim Cemetery in Israel Vandalized by Jewish Extremists - Settlers attack West Bank mosque and burn holy Muslim books - Attempt to storm the al Aqsa mosque Offensive, anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed in Hebrew on the wall of the Church of the Dormition. Vandals also defiled the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem writing “Death” and “Death to Christians” on its walls. - Vandals spray-painted “Death to Christianity” and “Jesus, son of a whore” on a Monastery of the Cross, Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem. - The Trappist Monastery of Latrun in Jerusalem was vandalized in a ‘price tag’ attack. - ‘Price tag’ vandals consistently escape prosecution. Among the most notable cases are the mosque arson in Beit Fajr, the raid on the Binyamin Spatial Brigade and mosque arsons in the villages of Qusra and Burqa, in Neve Shalom, Kafr Jaba and Jelazon. No indictments or arrests were made. In fact, only a small number of indictments have been filed in relation to “price tag” incidents in the past few years, in sharp contrast to the growing scope of the phenomenon itself. There have also been cases of actual violence and terrorism against people in houses of worship: - Eliran Golan, planted several homemade bombs in Haifa, targeting local Arab citizens. One of the bombs, planted in a mosque in the predominantly Arab Halisa neighborhood in Haifa, killed an Arab worshipper. Baruch Goldstein an American Israeli doctor opened fire at a mosque in Hebron during Friday prayers and killed 30 Palestinians. - Alan Goodman, a U.S. citizen, attacked Palestinians at al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, killed a Palestinian Waqf guard and injured several Israeli policemen. Goodman, went into Al Aqsa with an M-16 rifle and opened fire on worshippers. In November 1997, the Israeli government released Goodman. Unrepentant, Goodman boasts, “I fulfilled my mission.”
— And the number of mosques vandalized in Europe is difficult to keep up with because these attacks happen so frequently.
I found nothing about the story that Geller and Spencer are incensed about except the constant repetition of the same article mentioned above. I don’t know what happened in Serbia. If a church was vandalized by anyone, that is a terrible, and whoever did it needs to be found, arrested, and punished. But, to claim that it was Albanians, or Muslims, on the basis of nothing at all is at the very least irresponsible.
Geller and Spencer claim to be interested in many issues. However, they are only concerned when a Muslim can be somehow linked to it, and they are only interested in those crimes carried out by Muslims. They want people to speak out against Muslim crimes, Muslim extremists, etc., but totally ignore all crimes in the same category carried out by non-Muslims.
They want “civilized” people to call out the perpetrators of “savage” acts. The problem is that the only acts they consider “savage” are acts committed by Muslim perpetrators.
Do any of these acts of vandalism and violence committed by non-Muslims also deserve “calling out” or are they equally “savage”? I did a search on Geller and Spencer’s sites for mention of any of these comparable incidents, and found NOTHING.
As a Muslim, I condemn all acts of violence against any house of worship. Whatever the supposed religion of the perpetrators, and whatever the faith represented by the house of worship. All such attacks are condemnable.
It is not only the duty of Muslims to protect houses of worship in Muslim majority countries and elsewhere. It is the duty of all civilized people to protect all houses of worship.
See the full article Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for much more information about and links to responses to many claims, including critical reports on the Islamophobia Industry. Here is a summary:
The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade. They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films. They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally. They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”
These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, Abrogation (Naskh) in the Qur’an, etc.
Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist. They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad. The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.
Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam. Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as: - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized, - There have been 270 million victims of “jihad” - There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11 - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded. Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas. When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence.
You would never know from listening to any of the members of the Islamophobia Industry that Muslims have defended freedom of speech, participated in interfaith dialogue, defended freedom of faith against apostasy laws, condemned blasphemy laws, condemned holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, promoted non-violent solutions to the many problems we face, called for protecting all houses of worship and condemned any attacks on churches or synagogues anywhere, condemned violent responses to numerous incidents including the response to the Innocence of Muslims film, spoken out against child marriage, are working to stop domestic violence in our community, etc. Type condemn into the TAM search engine and 145 statements of condemnation come up in addition to the collections in our lengthy section Muslim voices against extremism terrorism and violence Muslims speak out loudly and clearly condemning our own extremists, and their extremist statements and actions. Type “lunatic fringe” into the TAM search engine for many such articles condemning particular extremists and extremist groups and activities.
You would never know that Muslims are decent, hardworking, productive citizens, making a positive contribution to this society. Muslims haven’t just spoken out against abuses carried out anywhere in the world that dishonor Islam, but also worked doing positive things.
The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence”, or that nothing that they say could have had anything to do with any act of violence are nonsense. The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist, or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense.
The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes. There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic. There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”. There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle. , and that the SPLC calls Pamela Geller “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism. — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack: The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State. — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security. — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry. There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
Click on the logo “Muslims denounce extremism and terrorism” on the front page of TAM for an extensive resource listing not only Muslim responses to extremism, but also resources for countering Islamophobia.
Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM). Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism, and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia. Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. Biography You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )