Fedwa Wazwaz

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian- American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. By profession, she is a senior data warehouse programmer with the University of Minnesota. Read more about Fedwa Wazwaz.

Posts about Violence

Training Cops to Fear Somalis and Muslims

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: November 22, 2013 - 5:08 AM

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, a law enforcement training on terrorism was offered in Minnesota. This training was organized by former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher of the controversial new Center for Somali History Studies.  Yes, terrorism is a real threat to our nation and law enforcement needs to be educated about that threat.

As an educator and a concerned citizen wishing for the safety and well-being of every civilian, I support educational trainings.  Yet, I am concerned about this training.  Is the training meant to strengthen our law enforcement or is it meant to selectively create a circle within our nation that hardens our deep-seated prejudices and biases to keep the Muslim community marginalized and outside this circle?

American Muslim leaders and leading organizations have been very vocal and firm in unequivocally condemning terrorism and terrorist organizations, including Al Shabab.  Last month, Minnesota imams were the first to collectively condemn the horrific attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya. The Council on American Islamic Relations, a leading civil rights organization, has repeatedly stated that “any action that harms innocent civilians is reprehensible and deserves condemnation.”  Muslim organizations and scholars are quite vocal condemning terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens, and whoever commits it. 

So why am I concerned about this training?

As an educator, I focus on two important points: First, evaluate or question the source.  Second, evaluate or question the methodology - the research, processes, critical thinking, omissions and numbers.  I also immediately separate and remove any emotionally appealing statements.

Let us question the source.

Are the trainers experts on terrorism? 

Are their credentials and backgrounds sound or are they individuals who have no qualifications or have deep-seated prejudice against Muslims? 

Do any of these experts have the necessary qualifications or level of understanding to speak on terrorism or on the Muslim community?

Do any of these experts have a reputation for accuracy?

Do any of the experts have a motive for being inaccurate or overly biased?

Are there valid reasons for questioning the honesty or integrity of these presenters?

Let us begin with the organizer. Former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher was referred to as “Ramsey County's most controversial cop.” His own police department alleged that he  "exaggerated or falsified" his investigation of domestic and international terrorism threats in the east metro.
SEE: Fletcher Defends Terror Probe (Star Tribune)

In an interview with the Twin Cities Daily Planet, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office stated that Fletcher's claims that Ramsey County residents were threatened by 22 domestic and 11 international terrorist groups "came from an active imagination" and that the Terrorism Information Briefs "never existed."

City Pages stated that "Fletcher's office apparently dreamed up the whole idea that his jurisdiction was under threat from dozens of domestic and international terrorism groups" and that "the research was done by staffers cruising the internet and watching CNN." It further states: "It's hardly the first time Fletcher and his office have been at the center of controversy. Some of his department's handiwork was employed in the run-up to the 2008 Republican National Convention, when he directed preemptive raids against Twin Cities activists who later became known as the RNC 8. Two years after they were arrested in the guns-drawn raid, the cases against them fizzled."

SEE: Meet Bob Fletcher: Ramsey County's Most Controversial Cop (City Pages)

Those 33 Terrorist Groups in Ramsey County? It Was "A Very Big Lie" (Twin Cities Daily Planet

Bob Fletcher, Former Ramsey County Sheriff, Fictionalized Terrorism Reports (City Pages)  

Along with Fletcher, the co-presenters for the training include: Omar Jamal, Abdirizak Bihi, Mohammed Farah, Michael Rozin, Jeff Weyers, and Gary Olding. 

Michael Rozin, "formally of the Israeli Defense Forces, trained at the Israeli Security Academy," was featured in an NPR story on racial and religious profiling at the Mall of America. 
SEE:  Shoppers Entangled In War On Terrorism (NPR) 

Omar Jamal, a convicted felon, has made unsubstantiated, hate-inspired statements, such as referring to Minneapolis as a "slaughterhouse for immigrants."
SEE: When Somalis are in the news so is Omar Jamal (MPR)

Similarly, the Pioneer Press reported that Bihi has had run-ins with the law, including a restraining order for "threatening and stalking" a woman and DWIs. In March 2011, there was an "active warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his probation."
SEE: Domestic terrorism hearing witness from Minneapolis has had a troubled past (Pioneer Press)

Is this how legitimate community leaders behave? Are these individuals best suited to train law enforcement?

Fletcher has organized controversial trainings for law enforcement in the past. Concerned community members felt the trainings did not distinguish between terrorists and mainstream Muslims and Somalis. The training flyer referred to the terrorist organization Al Shabaab as an "Islamic" organization. It included pictures of Somali men with AK-47s on it with the headline, "Understanding the People of Somalia."

In November 2011, more than 30 Twin Cities Somali and Muslim organizations challenged the credibility of the seminar in Minneapolis. Several police departments across the state declined to participate.
SEE: Muslim groups to Bob Fletcher: There's No "Islam" in Terrorism (Minnesota Public Radio)
Groups Object to St. Paul Somali Seminar, Call It Anti-Muslim (Pioneer Press)

The training claimed that there is "an alarming trend of radical imams recruiting and radicalizing American-raised Somalis to be suicide bombers for the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab." 

However, the FBI said it has no reason to believe the mosque was indoctrinating people:

"At this point, we have uncovered no evidence to show there was any effort of any mosque or mosque leadership or mosque imam to take part in any recruitment or radicalization of these young men," said Special Agent E.K .Wilson of the Minneapolis division of the FBI.

While investigators believe that some of the secret meetings happened in a mosque, it doesn't appear to be a case of a radical imam brainwashing his students. In most cases, Wilson said, it was likely friends influencing friends.

"It looks like the recruitment process of these men was on a very peer-to-peer type scale," Wilson said. "Some of the individuals were more culpable than others, but it was a very lateral chain of command when it came to who is responsible." 
SEE: Minnesota Muslim leaders skeptical and disappointed after radicalization hearing (MPR) 

In May 2012, Fletcher's training was canceled in Mankato after Somali leaders met with city leaders to discuss the controversial content of the seminar. As a result, all of the city organizers withdrew their support of the seminar.

In March 2013, Catholic Charities, who had agreed to host the training in Waite Park, apologized for the training's anti-Somali/anti-Muslim flyer. They also agreed to remove the anti-Muslim/anti-Somali content from the presentation slides.

The Executive Director of Catholic Charities publicly stated: “It used language that was wrong. It was a mistake on our part. No one should ever think of anyone from the Somali or Muslim community as affiliated with a terrorist organization."
SEE: Muslim Education Event Comes Under Fire (KNSI) 

We must support educational trainings on terrorism.  It is within our nation’s interest.  However, we must stand against trainings by fearmongers. It is against our nation’s interest. 

Fearmongering undermines our nation, in particular law enforcement’s ability to effectively protect our country.  It undermines peace officers’ relationships with the American Muslim community, leading to a rise in racial and religious profiling. Reports have highlighted law enforcement's use of biased experts and anti-Muslim training materials nationwide. The United States Congress has scrutinized these practices.
SEE: Congress Grills FBI Chief About Anti-Islam Trainings

Let us question the methodology. 

A sound methodology is a methodology that can be challenged openly and transparently.  It stands on arguments that are complete, critical thinking processes that are cold, sterile and devoid of emotional manipulation.  It is difficult to question the methodology of this training. 

On Thursday, November 21, CAIR-MN reported that a Muslim contacted the civil rights organization to report that he was barred from this controversial law enforcement training seminar on terrorism. The man reported that he approached the registration table, registered his name and email address, and was provided with a folder containing training materials and the agenda. However, he said that Bob Fletcher then approached him and asked him to leave. Fletcher allegedly told him that the training was by invitation only, mostly for law enforcement and for Fletcher’s Somali friends. Yet, this appears to be pretext. The event was publicized in public venues, including the main page of the organization’s website. The website includes an online registration page open to the community, along with a link to Paypal.

This raises a serious red flag:  Omission and suppression of alternative voices, hence the arguments are not complete or sound. 

Educational trainings for law enforcement should test for hidden bias.  Our ability to understand others can be obfuscated by our own hidden biases and stereotypes.  It is easy to argue we are not biased, but the reality is that bias is outside our sense of awareness.  Acknowledging hidden biases is the first step to an effective training.  Test Yourself for Hidden Bias

In addition, trainings on terrorism should involve terrorism experts that do not have a motive in the training.  Trainings that omit alternative voices and relevant evidence can appear to be stronger than they really are. 

As we work together to protect our country, we must be vigilant and firm in the face of arguments or expertise embedded with fear mongering and bias.  We must do the job well and right and rely on credible sources and factual information.  We must not readily accept whoever speaks on the matter without sound investigation. When sources and experts prove to be questionable, we must be accountable and responsible to seek out more reliable information, sources and experts.

A word of caution, it is extremely easy to manipulate people with numbers.  Hence, we must seek out experts on the fundamental principles of probability and statistics before believing statistical information offered to us in a manipulative manner. 

SEE: How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff, and Innumeracy:  Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos. 

When sources and experts are biased or have a self-interest, chances are numbers and arguments are being used to manipulate instead of educate the audience.  This is not within the interest of our nation.  We must stand against such trainings.  Profiling, misrepresenting and alienating an entire community does not help combat terrorism.

Source: CAIR-MN Action Alert

Reflecting on King's Challenge to America

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: January 20, 2013 - 2:50 AM

On December 14, 2012, late in the afternoon - I became aware of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It was painful to read the stories, emails and newsfeed as they poured over the tragedy. In times of crisis and pain like this, as a Muslim I immediately turn to prayer to gain strength and to reflect on the situation. In the evening, I joined an online prayer service on SeekersHub in Toronto.

The Toronto team was able to gather a large crowd at the Hub and online for our prayer for the victims and families of the murder in Connecticut. "The believer is pained by the pain of another," said Shaykh Faraz Rabbani while leading the prayers for the affected families of Connecticut.

Mainly through social media discussions, I began reading various viewpoints regarding the shooting. Some argued for greater gun control. Is this tragedy due to a lack of gun control policies? Maybe. We can consider this argument. But let us consider the argument that frequent mass shootings of innocent people are not symptoms of lack of gun control policies as well. Did Timothy McVeigh use guns in the Oklahoma bombing?

 
Others compared the discourse on the Newton Shooting to a month earlier discourse on the Israeli bombing of Gaza. On November 2012 - while bombs were hitting Gaza, and over 160 people died – many of whom were children, the US House of Representatives in one minute gave its “vigorous support” and “unwavering commitment” to Israel. Both, the U.S. Senate and House passed by unanimous consent resolutions defending Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip. These resolutions expressed no regret or mourning at the Palestinian loss of lives.
 
In response to the resolution, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) disputed statements that the U.S. House of Representative unanimously endorsed Israel's “right to act in self-defense” in Gaza. According Rep Kucinich, the bill was introduced at 12:04 pm. The resolution was “agreed without objection” by 12:05 pm. “There was no notice, no committee hearing, no discussion and no debate. In such a fashion, we achieve unanimity on great matters related to the Middle East,” said Rep. Kucinich.
 
As the discussion on the Newton shooting continued, some commented on the use of drones in Pakistan, and how the deaths of innocent people in Pakistan by US drone strikes has passed without mourning, grief or reflection in the US. Recently, a U.S. drone killed eight people in rural Pakistan, bringing the estimated death toll from drone strikes in Pakistan this year to 35.
 
In a Washington Post article published on January 13, 2013 - Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) argued, "A recent study by human rights experts at Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law found that the number of innocent civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes is much higher than what the U.S. government has reported: approximately 700 since 2004, including almost 200 children."

What does the violence in Gaza or Pakistan have to do with the Newton Shooting? I believe they are all connected.
 
Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings taught Muslims that, "The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich." This is not just an Islamic teaching but it was also taught by noble Americans who nurtured our country to a higher understanding of human dignity and value.
 
On April 4, 1967, Reverend Martin Luther King challenged America regarding the Vietnam War. In my opinion, what is true of the Vietnam War is true of the war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and in Gaza, where many Palestinian civilians were killed funded by the US tax dollars. In "Vietnam: A Time Comes When Silence is Betrayal," Martin Luther King said the following:
 
"My third reason [for opposing the war] moves to a deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the past three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked me, and rightfully so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today my own government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent…”
This weekend - as a nation we will celebrate Reverend King's life. As we reflect on his life - let us step in his shoes and imagine having a face to face interaction with the desperate, rejected and angry young Gazans or Pakistanis, like King had with the Blacks in the ghettos.
 
Then, they ask us, and rightfully so, what about Gaza and Pakistan, and look at the destruction of Gaza funded by US Tax dollars? And they further ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Doesn't the US hit Pakistan with drones killing innocent people in Pakistan? How can we talk about gun control when we are financing violence in Gaza. How will we respond?
 
Like Prophet Muhammad and MLK, I firmly believe you cannot condemn the violence of the oppressed until you firmly condemn the violence of the strong, of those with power and influence.
 
A condemnation of the violence in Connecticut requires us to also condemn the violence which killed many nameless children by our own weapons. Our drones and missiles kill children as well, and not just guns. Instead of a national debate on gun control, we need a national debate on all forms of violence and accountability to the rule of law. 
 
Furthermore, I encourage us to reflect on our thought processes and our self-defense rhetoric and ask ourselves - how different is our voice and our thoughts from those that took the lives of innocents in school shootings? Are we looking at people outside our boundaries, over there, the way the shooters behind the school shootings looked at our innocents in schools? Has our pain and fears blinded and deafened us from seeing, hearing or comprehending the voices of those "hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence?"  Read the article - The reviews are in: 'Zero Dark Thirty makes me hate muslims'
 
Tragic events like the Connecticut shooting remind us to do some soul searching. What makes any country great is the commitment to great principles like human dignity, human rights, value of life and rule of law. Are we going to hold ourselves accountable for selectively applying these principles when they suit us? Do we believe these principles are for everyone or only for certain Americans?
 
I think it is important for the American perspective to wake up and realize that all human life is created equal and that problems far worse do exist and need to be addressed just as urgently. By saying this, I don't at all mean to minimize the brutal massacre of children and school teachers or the pain and suffering of those who are in Connecticut. What I do mean is that violence like this is far more widespread than we realize, and that where these types of events occur on a massive scale there is rarely a movement to hold perpetrators with power and influence accountable to the rule of law.
 
My heart goes out to the people who were affected by the unspeakable crime in Newtown and to all the nameless and faceless children who died everywhere without a committee hearing, discussion, public debate and mourning.

Fighting for Survival, not Destruction of Israel

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: November 17, 2012 - 3:35 PM

I was preparing an article to respond to the current violence in Gaza when I realized that history is just repeating itself. Thus, I looked at previous articles and decided to simply repeat what was written before. It appears to me peace to some means a hope that the Palestinians would just disappear and stop seeking their rights protected under international law. Palestinians are simply fighting for their survival, not the destruction of Israel. 

 
Let me respond to the questions floating in cyberspace.
 
Israel’s Right to Exist?
In order to answer this question, it is important to understand how Israel was created.

 
Israel's right to exist cannot come through massacres, deadly force and the humiliation of Arabs. It cannot come through starving 1.7 million Gazans unless they accept submission to Israel. It cannot come through carpet-bombings of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. It cannot come through the expulsion of Arabs from their land, Arab-only home demolition, and construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements. It cannot come through violating International Law. It cannot come through allowing Israel the right to act without any sense of boundaries or accountability to any rule of law. Israel must earn its way to legitimacy and make amends for the history of terror and violence in the region as well as the numerous massacres and war crimes upon which it was built.
 
Peace Process or Piece Process?
Juan Cole, a political analyst on the conflict writes:
“Israeli hawks represent themselves as engaged in a ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians in which Hamas refuses to join. In fact, Israel has refused to cease colonizing and stealing Palestinian land long enough to engage in fruitful negotiations with them. Tel Aviv routinely announces new, unilateral house-building on the Palestinian West Bank. There is no peace process. It is an Israeli and American sham. Talking about a peace process is giving cover to Israeli nationalists who are determined to grab everything the Palestinians have and reduce them to penniless refugees (again).”
 
 
 
Self-Defense?
Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT, responded to this classic argument best:
“You can’t defend yourself when you are militarily occupying someone else’s land. Call it what you like, it is not self-defense.”

Some will argue that Israel left Gaza. However, to Palestinians, Israel did not leave Gaza, but instead turned it into an open-air prison. There was a recent report by the IDF to determine what the minimum caloric intake for Gazans should be in order to determine how many trucks of humanitarian aid can be allowed into Gaza without facing starvation.

 
Retaliation or Indiscriminate Killing?
And with every surge of Palestinian violence, Israel has struck with an evident lack of mercy. In the past, we heard “put the fear of death into the Arabs,” “mow them down,” and Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, threatening Palestinians with a “shoah,” which means holocaust.
 
In the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza, the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report found Israel applied the “Dahiya doctrine.” The report said on page 23:
"The tactics used by Israeli military armed forces in the Gaza offensive are consistent with previous practices, most recently during the Lebanon war in 2006. A concept known as the Dahiya doctrine emerged then, involving the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations."
 
Recently, Israeli transport minister, Israel Katz, recommended forcing the Gazan population into Egypt and cutting off their water and electricity.
Human Shields?
Stephen Zunes, a political analyst on the situation posted this on his Facebook:
“Following the 2008-2009 war in Gaza, detailed on-the-ground investigations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UNHRC and others took place that were quite critical of Hamas and accused them (and Israeli forces) of a number of war crimes. Yet they were unable to find a single case of Hamas using ‘human shields.’ (See pp. 75-78). And I'm seen no evidence that Hamas is doing that now, either. Yet members of Congress and others are still insisting that civilians being killed by Israeli bombardments are because Hamas is using ‘human shields’."
 
SEE: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/015/2009/en/8f299083-9a74-4853-860f-0563725e633a/mde150152009en.pdf
 
Security?
We must agree that security is a right for all, and not just for the exclusive set of people with nuclear arms. A state simply seeking security does not deny the right of another state or people to security. That is, unless it is not security that Israel seeks, but security from accountability for waging war crimes and ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their homeland.

See: Israel to counter Palestinian attempt at UN
"If the Palestinians go to the UN General Assembly with a new unilateral initiative, they must know they will be subject to severe measures by Israel and the United States," the station quoted Lieberman as saying on October 24.
 
Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?
In an interview with Norm Finkelstein, a political analyst and author of many books on the situation - I asked him the following question:

Wazwaz: Quite a few people assume that peacemaking means that you speak and act like Barney the purple dinosaur and they quote Gandhi and Martin Luther King selectively. In fact, both men were considered terrorists in their lifetime. MLK was very vehement against the war in Vietnam and very critical of American foreign policy. You recently explained that Gandhi also did not see nonviolence as allowing yourself to be raped and doing nothing. Can you explain nonviolence and respond to the call for the Palestinian Gandhi?

Finkelstein: Gandhi's opinions on nonviolence are complex and not always consistent. But it should be clear that Gandhi ranked courage and bravery as high as nonviolence, and he repeatedly said that if you don't have the courage and bravery to resist the oppressor nonviolently then you should use violence. He repeatedly denounced those who used nonviolence as a cover for their fear and cowardice.


Hatred of Jews or Israeli Apartheid?
It's true that some Arabs have expressed unjust anti-Semitic feelings. Similar sentiments were expressed by Jews toward Arabs. However, this conflict is not about hatred of Jews or hatred of Arabs, but an illegal military occupation that is against international law. The anti-Jewish and anti-Arab feelings are byproducts of the conflict, not the root cause of it. 
 
This conflict is not a Jew vs. Arab conflict. It is not Judaism vs. Islam conflict. Israel remains in violation of abundant UN resolutions. There are quite a few Jews, some quoted in this blog, who came out and spoke against the occupation. Some saw the striking similarity between what they suffered in the holocaust and what they are seeing in the lives of Palestinians.
 
Hajo Meyer is the author of The End of Judaism: An Ethical Tradition Betrayed. In this Huffington Post article, he writes of the similarities between his experiences in Germany and what he saw of the suffering of Palestinians. Here are his words:
See: An Ethical Tradition Betrayed
 
“I am pained by the parallels I observe between my experiences in Germany prior to 1939 and those suffered by Palestinians today. I cannot help but hear echoes of the Nazi mythos of ‘blood and soil’ in the rhetoric of settler fundamentalism which claims a sacred right to all the lands of biblical Judea and Samaria. The various forms of collective punishment visited upon the Palestinian people — coerced ghettoization behind a ‘security wall’; the bulldozing of homes and destruction of fields; the bombing of schools, mosques, and government buildings; an economic blockade that deprives people of the water, food, medicine, education and the basic necessities for dignified survival — force me to recall the deprivations and humiliations that I experienced in my youth. This century-long process of oppression means unimaginable suffering for Palestinians.”

Until we recognize the Palestinians as a people with rights protected under international
law - the conflict will continue and the map of Palestine will continue to shrink. Calling for restraint while financing an illegal military occupation against international law and protecting the occupier from accountability for violations of international law - will not produce peace or security for anyone, but violence and insecurity for all as is evident for all to witness to.
 
To follow the current conflict and stay abreast of the situation see the following:

Islamophobia Driven by Guroor, not Fear of Terrorism

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: July 25, 2011 - 6:30 AM
I love to follow the teachings of Habib Ali, a phenomenal teacher on Islamic spirituality.  In a beautiful lesson, he once said that the more guroor a person has, the more harm comes out of this person.
 
What is guroor? 
While reading my Facebook news feed, I ran across a blog by a Facebook friendSincere teacher transform hearts.
 
While reading her blog, I felt the writer’s conclusion best sums a good definition of guroor.
 
"When we view ourselves as the protagonist of a story in which we are always right, we collect grievances about other people by noticing everything we do and noting the 'injustices' that are done to us.  All of this builds resentment within us and instigates conflict. Dr. Umar’s words deepened that lesson, and were a reminder of how easy it is to remember one’s own good in worship or social relations while forgetting the good of others. Dr. Umar’s lesson taught us that instead of clinging to our actions, it is critical to do as much good as possible without caring about how our actions compare to the actions of others."
 
Guroor is a sense of moral superiority over another. There is a hidden desire to deny the “other” a right to exist unless they accept this moral superiority of the “us.”
 
Last Friday, the world witnessed the tragic bombings and shootings in Oslo that sadly took the lives of 91 civilians -- many of them youth. There are many injured and many will have psychological scars that will not heal.
 
Authorities are investigating Anders Behring Breivik, who wrote a 1,500-page manifesto, described by a terrorism specialist as:
 
“It seems to be an attempt to mirror Al Qaeda, exactly in reverse.”
 
The New York Times also reported that  Breivik is an anti-Muslim crusader.
 
Islamophobes like Breivik see Muslims as morally inferior. Like Osama bin Laden, Breivik saw himself  as the protagonist of a story in which [Christians] are always right, [and] collect[ed] grievances about other people by noticing everything [Christians] do and noting the 'injustices' that are done to [Christians]. This is guroor.
 
During the conference on Islamophobia at UC Berkeley earlier this year, I said that guroor is the driving spirit behind Islamophobia, and not fear of terrorism or fear of Islam.
 
People who have guroor within them are notorious for engaging in double standards.  
 
When the “other” does something wrong, they are "experts" at connecting the dots to every so-called injustice done by the “other,” or by anyone who breathes, sneezes and looks like the “other.”  However, if an injustice is done by ”us”, they are experts at rationalizing, disconnecting any dots, justifying or explaining away the injustice – erasing it from their minds, even trying hard to revise history, as well.
 
They omit many wrong actions by their tribe or nation and assume that, if the tribe or nation escapes accountability by a court of law that holds the "us" and "them" to the same level of standards, that this action is acceptable or did not happen.
 
For example, in a voice laced with guroor, Ayan Hersi Ali speaks on credible news outlets to literally rally everyone to “defeat Islam.” It is guroor that gives a platform for Pam Geller and Bridgette Gabriel to rally America, “They [Muslims] must be stopped.” These same organizations would not grant a platform to anyone to rally for a defeat of Judaism or any other faith.
 
Since Islamophobes face no accountability for their hate speech or calls of war against Muslims, the conclusion is made that their actions are not an “injustice” against  Muslims. No harm was done. The rising hate crimes against Muslims never triggered any warnings. This platform divorced from accountability for their hate speech – in my opinion – contributed to the attacks in Norway.
 
Likewise, on the Huffington Post, Oslo Attack Highlights the Dangers of Islamophobia, Joshua Stanton argues:
 
‎"The first is that Islamophobia is not merely confined to a war of words against Muslims. Islamophobic words, of which Breivik shared many in his 1,500-page document, often spiral into deeds."
 
However, since the “other” cannot escape accountability, then every action the “other” does is an injustice.  Every word or thought is psychoanalyzed. This is where Islamophobes love to hurl a distorted understanding of taqiyya in their discourse.  Even if the “other” does good, the good action is really a disguised attempt to take over America or Europe, hence an injustice.
 
Such voices are also always reminding the world of their good actions or moral superiority while forgetting the good of the “other.”  They are also constantly comparing the actions of "us" to the actions of "them."
 
 
Fear of White People?
 
Continuing with my Facebook news feed, I read a comment by Max Blumenthal who raised an important question to reflect on:
 
"In light of Oslo killings, will Juan Williams suddenly become afraid of his white peers at Fox News?"
 
On his website, is an interesting analysis of this tragic event, titled: Anders Behring Breivik, a perfect product of the Axis of Islamophobia
 
If Williams’ fears were driven by fear based on the traumatic tragedy of 9/11, as he claims, then he along with all those who claim they fear Muslims due to acts of terrorism by Muslims, would now develop fear of white people with white garbs.  But if it is driven by guroor, instead of fear -- then these people would continue to collect 'injustices' done by Muslims against the "us" tribe or nation, and the Oslo attacks like the Oklahoma bombings would disappear from memory lane.
 
Another FB status highlighted a comment by Stephen Zunes who noted on his FB page:
 
"Got a couple of media calls today about the terrorist attacks in Norway, since they consider me to be an expert on 'Islamic terrorism.' Since it appears the person responsible is a far right-wing Norwegian, I told them to find an expert on Lutheran terrorism."
 
Congressional Hearings on Lutheran Terrorism?
 
If the acts of terrorism by Muslims are promoting all the discussion/congressional hearings on "Islamic Terrorism" we would see discussions come forth, led by "experts" with magical connecting dots skills on "Lutheran terrorism."   But if these discussions/hearings are driven by guroor, we would see justifications and explanations that try to magically remove any connection to this attack and any attack by Christian extremists.  Over time, it did not exist or was the act of a lone madman.  No connecting of dots allowed.
 
I conclude with a comment by Gary Younge, in an article, In Europe, Where's the Hate?
 
"Events in Norway suggest the primary threat to European democracy has never been 'Islamofascism'--that clunking, thuggish phrase that keeps lashing out in the hope that it will one day strike a meaning--but plain old fascism. The kind whereby mostly white Europeans take to the streets to terrorize minorities in the name of racial, cultural or religious superiority."
 
As Habib Ali says, the more guroor a person has, the more harm comes out of this person.

In Times of Anger - Part II

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: January 17, 2011 - 6:05 AM

I was listening to a lecture by a notable scholar named Habib Hussein as Saggaf.  He is originally from Yemen and I believe he resides now in Abu Dhabi.  But he gives weekly lessons on a series "O Beloved Son" by the great Imam al Ghazzali.  I try my best to get hold of some of the lessons as there are always some important questions and answers that you discover that help you to understand yourself and those around you.  In this last Friday's lesson - one student made a very important comment to the teacher's advice of seeking good company. 

 

The student commented that at times - good people do not accept us.  How can we find guidance - when good people reject us, because we are not the images that they seek around them?  Some learn to embrace multiple personalities to fit in and others remain outcasts, condemned and unguided.  To myself first and foremost, and then to others - let us reflect on that question as we preach tolerance and close the doors of acceptance to those whose manners don't please us.

 

This blog is meant for those Muslims, and others can listen in as well - who have found the doors of acceptance closed in their faces and are processing feelings of anger and hate and don't know how to embrace multiple personalities to fit in and find themselves alone and outcasts.

 

Below is a question and answer from a Muslim counseling site which helps troubled Muslims.  My hope is other troubled Muslims will benefit from this and those in position of guidance will reflect on the voice of the questioner and the search for guidance in the midst of anger and hate.  The questioner is a Muslim woman who was experiencing a lot of injustices from various domestic dimensions and relationships.  Her question is rather long but the ending is the most important to reflect on:

"I am feeling useless. And I hate everyone and everything. I pray to Allah but Allah doesn't listen to me. I don't know who to ask for help or where to go. I am not normal as I'm full of hate. My day starts with hate and ends with hate. It is destroying me. But I can't do anything."

 

Martin Luther King Jr. reached out to these people, to steer their anger in the right direction.  All we have now is closed doors, mental institutions, gangs, terror groups, or pills.  I am worried when such people, Muslim or non Muslim can only find the worst of people to steer them astray or FBI informants to instigate them to say things to gather stats against American Muslims. 

 

We have a responsibility to anchor each other.  Hence, I share below the answer by a Muslim counselor that I respect and follow his responses. 

 

Abdul-Lateef Abdullah is an American convert to Islam.  He helps troubled people, both Muslim and non-Muslim.  I gather his answers to help people around me who also maybe suffering.  Below is his response which I felt was brilliant and share with those struggling with anger and pain out there with no where to go and no one to turn to for help.

 

Hatred breeds hatred. More hatred breeds more hatred. Hatred is the seed and fuel of Hell. It’s your choice, do you want heaven or hell? Right now you are in hell, you already taste its fire, anguish, misery, for you can only see hatred. You are getting the very thing that you say you hate because you do not see that all these things that have happened and that are happening to you are actually the stimulus/reason you need to TRANSFORM yourself and those around you. You see people doing things that you cannot stand and it makes you angry, al hamdu Lillah(Praise God)! You recognize them as something that you do not want for yourself and for your loved ones. So, are you going to be just like them or are you going to be different? If you follow the path of hatred, you will become just like them or worse. Allah, however, is showing you as clear as day the consequences of such behavior and actions – hell – first here in this life and then who knows what in the life to come. So, you want to follow them on that path? You have been given a gift and that gift is awareness. You can see all the negatives and consequences of what everyone around you is doing. That is the most important first step that is required in order to transform, and without it, transformation is impossible. So, what are you going to do with this gift?

 

Please don’t talk about Allah as if He is some giant slot machine. You put your 10 cent coin in and you expect a jackpot! Allah does not exist to respond to our demands. We exist for Him, not the other way around. We live our lives filled with hatred and refuse to see anything to be grateful for and we expect Allah to change us? Sorry, but we have to make the first move. Allah says in the Qur’an that He will only change our condition if we first change it ourselves. We have been given the gift of free will here in this life to make choices. The greatest of those choices is whether to live for God or for something/someone else. To live for God means to first and foremost surrender/align ourselves with His will, then to follow His commands and guidance on how to live lives in Islam, i.e. in peace. There can be no true peace without Islam. Islam is much more than “I pray to Allah but Allah doesn’t listen to me.” I beg to differ. Allah hears all prayers and He answers them accordingly. The fact that you think He doesn’t hear you IS the answer to your prayer. It starts with the fact that you think Allah is supposed to exist for you, not the other way around.

 

The first thing you must do is stop hating because it is destroying you. Yes, there is a ton of perceived injustices happening all around you. So why? Why would Allah give you the insight and awareness of all these things if He did not want you to DO something about it? And that does not mean that you have to try and change anyone else, but rather first you need to surrender yourself to His will, to first accept the way things are, to know that there is a higher wisdom taking place that you just cannot grasp yet, but that you will dedicate yourself to trying to understand so that you can do something to improve the situation for His sake.

 

First is to align yourself with God, for the sake of knowing and wanting to be close to Him. It’s the primary responsible of human beings before any action can be carried out, and it has to take place in your heart. It may sound difficult given all that you have experienced in life, but you have to know that what has happened to you and those around you is the direct result of NOT living for God, not the other way around. It means more than just asking Allah to make things different. First, it means a dedicated heart that realizes that you have NO POWER, and that all power resides with Allah. It means that He is showing you His clear signs that to live lives of injustice and without mercy (such as what your uncles are doing to your father) is to live in opposition to God’s love and mercy, which is enough to earn His wrath and punishment. And it means that each of us needs to first return to Allah with a pure heart before we can hope to help those around us change. You don’t need to wait for anybody else, you must take the first step because you are the one that has been given this awareness and insight. It came to you. Do something with it!

 

To continue to simply live in rejection of what is happening is denial. You are actually in denial of what is happening. You believe things should be different, and you cannot accept it. But until you do accept it, and try to understand it, and then try to change it, at least within yourself, is your only choice! Either that or continue to allow yourself to be destroyed with hatred. What kind of life is that? Do you really have any other choice?

 

Give up. Surrender yourself to His love, mercy and wisdom. Then start over. Stop seeing everything as not the way you want it to be, and start trying to understand things. Seek knowledge and insight so that you can understand what is happening around you. Start living life for the sake of knowing, worshipping and serving your Creator and start fulfilling your life’s purpose and potential. Use the internet or any other means you have at your disposal to learn. Stop hating and allowing yourself to be destroyed for you do have choices. The first choice is whether to accept God’s will and move forward or continue to reject it and burn up with hatred. But you need knowledge and you need support in your effort to do this. Find a teacher, find knowledge, find your true heart and find peace, in sha 'Allah(God Willing)

 

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