Wednesday, June 6, 2007

UCI College Republicans sponsor "terrorists"

By Mohamad Abdelfattah

After attending a wonderful ceremony celebrating and affirming religious tolerance at UCI, I decided to check out an event being put on by the College Republicans featuring three self-proclaimed former terrorists. I was disturbed to find out that the event was completely dedicated to demonizing the religion of Islam and its followers. It was the furthest thing from the spirit of the ceremony I had attended earlier that morning.

The alleged former terrorists Walid Shoebat, Zak Anani and Kamal Saleem each discussed their supposed radical Islamic lives of the past. The first to speak was Kamal, who described his intense childhood. He claimed, "at 7 years of age, I went on my first mission into Israel…we went through an underground tunnel with 50 kg of TNT on my back." I find it difficult to believe that at seven years of age this guy held 110 pounds of explosives on his back, when my own seven year-old brother has difficulty carrying his backpack to school everyday. Kamal's story seemed to be staged as part of a play – he kept referring to his notes and would raise his voice at certain times to dramatize his act.

Next up was Zak Anani who who told us that he grew up in Lebanon and at age thirteen joined a radical Islamic movement. Interestingly, his biography on Shoebat’s website indicates his level of “religiosity”: he refused to pray and actually killed a fellow Muslim for asking him to pray the early morning prayer! Yet, he claimed that his religion inspired him to kill hundreds – by the age of eighteen, he was allegedly personally responsible for the deaths of 223 people. By the way, he does not provide the context. Apparently his activities occurred during the civil war when most factions, Muslim and non-Muslim, were all busy killing each other; yet, somehow his actions committed as a Muslim stand out and indict the entire religion.

His hatred of Islam is intense. He said, "There isn't really radical Islam, they're either Muslim or non-Muslims.” In other words, our fight terrorism is in reality a war against all Muslims. The neo-con mantra “You’re either with us or you’re against us” has been translated into “You’re either Muslim or you’re non-Muslim.” Talk about religious intolerance.

The final person to speak was Walid Shoebat, a self-professed ex-PLO fighter. Walid claims to be Palestinian. He also makes the claim that he used to be a terrorist with the PLO, but provides absolutely no documentation or proof that would support his claims.

I will spare the readers the details of the terrorists’ stories and why I think they are mostly lies and fabrications. The more important issue is the point behind “touring” those three self-proclaimed terrorists around US college campuses. Even if the stories told by the speakers are true, it is obvious that such events are staged by intolerant right-wing groups to promote Islamophobic sentiments and justify the discrimination against Muslims in America and abroad.

Members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) are always accused of being hypocritical in that they organize events attacking Zionism and Zionists yet criticize events against Islam or Muslims. To rational human beings, the difference should be obvious.

Unlike Islam, Zionism is not a religion but a man-made political ideology (just like socialism or capitalism). An attack on Zionism is an attack on its racist ideas and the oppressive practices of its subscribers, not an attack on a specific religion or its followers.

On the other hand, events such as the one recently sponsored by the College Republicans that equate Islam, one of the three Abrahamic religions, to terrorism promote religious intolerance, to say the least. Had the College Republican event targeted political parties or groups (PLO, Hamas, Hizbullah for example) the situation would have been different and I may have considered some of the arguments presented. However, their speakers chose to misrepresent the whole religion of Islam and its 1.5 billion followers worldwide. That is straight up Islamophobia.

As an Muslim American I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know Muslims from all over the world, but I have yet to meet a "radical Muslim". Yes, we have all seen them on CNN and FOX News, but I am yet to see one in person. I am yet to meet a Muslim who declares "jihad" on innocent civilians or vows to kill every “infidel”. I am yet to see the avocation of killing Americans along with the "death to America" cry that our media portrays of every other Middle Eastern man with a beard or woman with a scarf.

I went to the College Republican event hoping to get a glimpse of what I have so often heard and read about. I must say I was disappointed. The speakers at Monday night’s event are well-overpaid. I could easily find ten people with Middle-Eastern accents to put on a more convincing act. And if their stories are indeed true, why aren’t these people rotting in Guantanamo?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The reason why Walid isn't "rotting in Guantanamo" is because he is a former terrorist, unlike Amir Abdel Malik Ali who is a current terrorist. And I'm surprised you haven't seen any Muslims who want to wage jihad. You do go to UC Irvine, don't you? I don't know, maybe you play World of Warcraft all day in your room and don't get a chance to experience the anti-Semitic atmosphere here.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:
I'm a Muslim who goes to UCI and attends the MSU events and also have yet to see someone who declares "jihad" on innocent civilians or vows to kill every “infidel”.

You have been brainwashed by the propaganda machine. You ought to listen to what we say rather than what bigots have to say about us.

Anonymous said...

During anti-Apartheid, anti-Zionism Week, there was some guy carrying a sign that said "death to america, death to israel, kill the infidels". Thats the only incident that I have witnessed a student at UCI spew such remarks (might I add that he's NOT MUSLIM); yet no one said anything or even thought about saying anything about him.

This disgraceful character tried to give Islam a bad name with his immature tactics, yet he didn't make the Front Page? WoW!! How the hell is that possible. Some maniac holds up a sign that says 'death to america' and he's not even questioned?!?! For all we know this psycho is another Timothy McVeigh.

Anonymous said...

anonymous #1, what anti-Semitic atmosphere are you talking about? When has the MSU ever partaken in anti-semititic activities? for god sake stop repeating the same line over and over again...if you have the proof, prove it. Every shred of evidence i have seen proves no such thing. And by the way, if Walid is a former terrorist he should still pay for his actions...thats like saying "I was a murderer but i am not anymore" and then not being punished for it.

Anonymous said...

You want proof? Did you see that big wall that MSU had on Ring Road? I'm surprised MSU hasn't brought David Duke to our campus to speak yet. And Walid is paying for what he did in the past. He's atoning for what he did. I feel like that's more productive than him sitting in a jail cell.

Anonymous said...

yes i did see the wall...there was nothing anti-semitic about it...it spoke the truth about ZIONISM. until you can accept that the two terms are not the same thing we can not have dialogue. And by the way: I am a muslim and part of the MSU, i am an arab and i am a SEMITE so how can i be anti-semitic? How can the MSU be anti-semitic when the wall they built portayed the suffering of actual SEMITES (yes palestinians are semites whether you want to admit it or not). not to mention suffering at the hands of an organization that originated in europe!

Anonymous said...

the term anti-semite in today's discussion of history means "anti-jewish." and if you use distortions and lies to slander israelis, i think that's pretty anti-jewish.

Anonymous said...

if you mean anti-jewish THEN say anti-jewish. anti-semite DOES NOT mean anti-jewish. arabs are more semitic than jews.

Anonymous said...

in today's language, anti-semitic and anti-jewish are interchangeable. yes, the arabs are a semitic people, but people these days don't refer to anti-arab feelings as anti-semitism, they refer to it as being anti-arab.

Anonymous said...

that's because of of the domination of jews in the media but it does not make it right or true. it's a very simple matter. arabs are semitic. therefore, anti-semite includes being anti-arab. using anti-semite interchangeably with anti-jewish is not accurate and should be stopped instead of changing the language. it is absolutely absurd to try to change and twist words around just to sound vague so you confuse the idiots. what's wrong with saying anti-jewish or even better anti-zionism as that's what it's really about.
If arabs are not semitic today then what are they? and how were they semitic before but now "in today's language"? do you have a new word for arabs in "today's language"?

Anonymous said...

Arabs are Arabs. And nice of you to once again resort to dumb little conspiracy theories about how the Jews control everything. Very mature.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1:
Do you accept the terms Zionism and Judaism as different. Can someone be anti-zionist but not anti-Jewish? Can someone respect a religion but not an ideology?

Why cant zionism and judaism be considered two VERY different things by all people? I dont understand.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. 'Nuff said. End of story. I'd like to explain it to you some more, but you won't listen.

Anonymous said...

"Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. 'Nuff said." hahaha yea right

Anti-Zionism has nothing to do with being anti semitic people like arabs and jews smarty.

Zionist jewish control of the media is not a theory. it's fact.

Zoya Ahmad said...

Also, another factor as to why anti-Zionism is not anti-Jewish is that not all zionists are Jewish. Some major supporters of the ideology of Zionism are not Jewish, a prime example being Mr. Walid Shoebat himself. If being anti-Zionism were the same as being anti-Jewish, I think that this would imply that all zionists are Jews. As this is not the case, being anti-Zionist and being anti-Jewish cannot be the same thing.

Belal Abdelfattah said...

Another thing is that just because Zionists like to make people think that a Semite is a Jew only it is not the case. And this is only happening in "today's language" because its the only defense that the Zionists have, everything is Anti-Semitic, and like the Palestinians land, you want to claim something that is not your own. A Semite is any person that is a member of a Semitic speaking group, INCLUDING ARABS AND JEWS. So for you to say that an Arab is anti-Semitic does not make any sense, because a group of people starts calling Jews the only Semites does not make it so, and just because said group claims Palestinian land as their own does not make it legitimate.

Reut Cohen said...

Hi, Belal.

Actually the term "anti-Semitic" was coined in reference to Jews in Europe.

In the late 1800s, due to the Enlightenment, Germans no longer felt it was appropriate to simply hate Jews. They needed a solid reason for this. Wilhelm Marr coined the term to describe why Jews in Germany were inferior (physically, psychologically, etc).

So you see, the term really has nothing to do with Arabs. Arabs (who may be Christian or Muslim) are indeed Semites too but the term is not in reference to them.

The term explicitely refers to "Judenhaas" or "Jew hate."

For quick reference see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Marr
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism

Also feel free to check out any text or encyclopedia for further information about the term "anti-Semitism."

Shami said...

Reut,

That still doesn't explain how being anti zionist is anti semitic.

Why is it that when anyone wants to be critical of Israel's policies, they are called anti-semitic?

Belal Abdelfattah said...

I can probably give you her answer: Because Israel is a Jewish state and therefore hating Israel means hating Jews, and most Jews are Zionists, so completely disregard the Jews who are not, and don't worry about the Non Jewish Zionists. Typical stuff, whether you want to admit it or not, being anti-Israeli is not Anti-Semitic, its being anti-oppression. And we can sit here and debate this all you want, but look at the facts. I know you're going to bring up "suicide" bombers because that's all your argument ever is, but if you take the number of "suicide" bombings and compare it to the number of daily Israeli incursions into Palestinian land and daily murders that take place, the "suicide" bombing pales in comparison. Although now I'm sure someone is going to say the Israeli's only kill innocent Palestinians because of suicide bombings, and or because Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. Of course this is garbage, but hey whatever helps you sleep at night

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed by the venom of your response to the talks. An am not Muslim, but I lived many years in an Islamic nation and have many, many Muslim friends. I do not hate Islam or Muslims. At the same time, terrorism is real, and as a Muslim journalist (now in danger of his life) wrote, "not all Muslims are terrorists, but we have to acknowledge that most international terrorists are Muslim." Rather than take any critique of terrorism and misplaced jihad as an attack on all Islam, Muslim leaders need to be as vocal as nonMuslims about radical, militant Islam. How else will people who don't know any better ever realize that there is a difference and that there are peace-loving people who are Muslim? Did any of the speakers you are so critical of ever call on Christians to kill Muslims? Did they say "Death to Iran" or "Death to Saudi Arabia?" Yet radical clerics can spew their hatred and people can hold signs saying "death to America" and you sit by silently. In some ways I think Muslim reaction to terrorism (or nonreaction) does as much damage to people's views of Muslims as the terrorism itself.