In the wake of the tragic shootings in Aurora, CO, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) wasted no time in trying to capitalize on the tragedy for their own political agenda. The organization issued an email newsletter entitled “Now is the Time to End America’s Culture of Violence,” which sickeningly used the image of an obviously distraught family from the Aurora shooting.
MPAC displayed its blatant anti-Americanism while trying to draw moral equivalency between the Colorado shooter and the actions of Islamist terrorists, such as Nidal Hasan.
The newsletter attempted to once again depict Muslims as the victims of American society when it proclaimed “While Holmes should be labeled, without a doubt, as a murderer, we should be smart enough to realize that he is a terrorist. His premeditated actions that night showed his intent was to instill terror and fear into the audience to make a statement. After last week, American Muslims began to wonder why the media did not label Holmes as such.”
MPAC’s callous treatment of the Aurora community at a bare minimum misses the fact that Holmes actions and motivations have not been released and supposition on his objectives is just that – supposition. Second the contortionism they had to accomplish to make such accusations is simply astounding. MPAC is an organization that continually denies any ideological link between Islamism (political Islam) and terrorists like Nidal Hasan and Anwar Al Awlaki. Despite the overwhelming evidence of that linkage, MPAC eschews every opportunity to label and therefore treat the cause of terrorism in Islamic communities.
Terrorism is clearly not only the domain of Islamists. However, Islamist terrorism is the greatest threat we face today and its clear identification is a means to treat and nullify its existence. MPAC’s statement that “to keep the citizens of our nation safe we must ensure that all threats, no matter where they emanate, are assessed in a similar manner and that we do not focus our attention solely on one specific group of our citizens,” is an attempt to minimize the ideological root of Islamist terrorism by treating any act of violence as an act of terrorism. In doing so, MPAC anesthetizes American Muslims to their central role in countering the ideologies that fuel terrorists.
The actions of James Holmes were horrific. We may eventually find some motivation that equates his rampage to an agenda that would raise his attack to the level of domestic terrorism or it may ultimately be related to deep seeded psychiatric illness. For MPAC to make these comments only a week after the shooting with no evidence of Holmes’ motivation is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the issue of terrorism.
MPAC’s piece is punctuated with a quote attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in which they claim he called America, as a nation, the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” In fact, though many of us may disagree strongly with Dr. King, he was simply being critical of the US government, not the United States itself. MPAC modified even this quote to serve their purposes: to express disdain at the United States, even at a time of great tragedy.
For a Muslim organization whose members benefit from the safety and freedom offered by the United States to suggest that the United States is the most violent force in the world is an insult to not just our nation, but it is also an affront to those living under regimes who are currently slaughtering their citizens by the tens of thousands. American Muslims who love this great country and either actively or passively allow themselves to be represented by such vitriol against America should reconsider.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is meant to be spent remembering and serving the less fortunate, while being grateful for our blessings – not playing victim. Muslims are freer to practice our faith here than anywhere else in the world. The victims of the Aurora massacre and their families deserve our prayers and solidarity as fellow Americans. They do not deserve to be used as pawns in MPAC’s political agenda.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser is the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam (Simon & Schuster, 2012) and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona.