Trump slammed for ‘glaring double standards’ on mosque terror attack

25th Aug 2017
Trump slammed for ‘glaring double standards’ on mosque terror attack

Flowers placed near the boarded up window of Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota that was bombed using an IED on August 5. US President Donald Trump is yet to comment on the terror attack

(Photo: Ali Rehan Rattansi/Muslim News)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Exactly a week before the Charlottesville race row erupted and engulfed the White House Muslim civil right groups were voicing their frustration at the double standards from the US President over the bombing of a Minnesota mosque.

Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, the recipient of several anti-Muslim threats was the target of a bombing in the early hours of August 5. Twenty worshippers had been preparing for the dawn prayer when a device exploded at 5 am. No one was injured in the blast which shattered the windows of the center used by a large Somali diasporas.

The center’s Executive Director, Mohamed Omar, said the incident was more than another random attack. “It’s much deeper and scarier than like something random, it’s so scary.” Omar described in detail how a worshiper saw a truck parked next to the imam’s office then he heard a sound of a broken window. The driver fled the scene speeding in his truck.

As the witness then told the congregation he saw smoke coming from the window “a very loud explosion happened, I thought the whole building was about to collapse. So we ran outside and saw this huge smoke coming out from the window,” said Omar.

The FBI confirmed the blast was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device, pieces of which were recovered from the scene.

Like many other mosques across the US, Al Farooq’s received threats of attack prior to the bombing. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said 14 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in Minnesota last year, a record high even as other hate crimes have been on the decline.

Homeland Security confirmed that acting Secretary Elaine Duke was “in close contact with federal, state and local authorities and local community leaders” about the investigation.

“The Department of Homeland Security fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution, we are thankful that there were no injuries, but that does not diminish the serious nature of this act,” said a spokesman.

Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR)  records show anti-Muslim hate crimes increased sharply since Donald Trump announced his Presidential candidacy in June 2015. In 2014, for instance, CAIR documented 1,341 cases of anti-Muslim bias and 38 anti-Muslim hate crimes. By 2016, those numbers had ballooned to 2,213 and 260, respectively. The figures align with available FBI hate crime data, which showed a surge in anti-Muslim crimes in 2015 (2016 data is not yet available).

Trump’s failure to denounce anti-Muslim hate crimes and far-right terrorism

For many, the White House response, or lack of, to the mosque bombing exposed glaring double standards. Although the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, was quick to brand the incident “an act of terrorism” it was the silence of Trump that left many Muslim leaders accusing him and his administrations of “double standards”.

CAIR  Spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, said Trump’s rhetoric and policies have “empowered those who harbour anti-Muslim views,” adding he “needs to speak out against these type of things because those who support him take his silence as tacit support.”

Editor at the progressive-leaning Mother Jones magazine, Mark Follman, said Trump’s silence was due to the target of the attack. “In normal times, the bombing of a house of worship with an IED would not go unacknowledged by the President,” he continued, after posting a list of previous attacks committed by far-right attackers that Trump had also not responded to.

Twitter user Marty Parrish asked: “Did I miss Trump’s statement of concern for the victims of this bombing and members of the Mosque? Does he care?”

White House aide Sebastian Gorka said Trump is right not to denounce the attack insisting, “We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate-crimes, by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left.” Gorka did not cite any specific instances to back up his claim.

“When people fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity, it’s wise to find out what exactly is going on before you make statements.”

Muslim Advocates (MA) quickly criticised Gorka’s defence of Trump, a spokesman said, “The FBI said it is investigating this tragic firebombing as a possible hate crime, the Republican Mayor of Bloomington said ‘when there’s an attack on part of our community, it’s an attack on our entire community,’ and Minnesota Governor, Mark Dayton, decried Saturday’s attacks as a ‘criminal act of terrorism.’”

“Instead of showing an ounce of compassion for Minnesota’s Muslim community, the White House is sloughing off a firebombing on a house of worship. This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that tacitly condones violence against Muslims and sends a signal to violent extremists that they have a friend in the White House,” he added.

Civil right groups also scoffed at Gorka’s credibility to voice an opinion on far-right crimes citing his decades long ties to Hungarian Nazis group Vitezi Rend, a group that Gorka said he “never swore allegiance formally”.

MA Special Counsel, Madihha Ahussain, said Gorka “has no place in this or any administration. The White House must immediately jettison these views and cut ties with bigots like Gorka because the safety of millions of Americans is at stake with every comment like this.”

Muslim Americans criticism of Trump’s refusal to condemn far-right violence and the well as the presence of the alt-right in his inner circle was spectacularly justified on August 12 when a woman was killed by a neo-Nazi who ploughed his car into anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A week to the day after the mosque bombing, the Unite the Right, held a rally in Charlottesville attracting the largest contingent of White Supremacists in recent American history and culminated with the death of Heather Heyer, 32, and the injury of 19 other anti-racism protestors.

Once again, Trump failed to explicitly condemn White Supremacy groups or use the term terrorism. Instead, Trump condemned violence “on many sides”, but did not single out the KKK and other alt-right groups.

Euro News

CAIR, National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, said: “Trump’s reluctance to both denounce the act of terrorism and to call out the White Supremacist and racists groups by name constitutes a failure of moral leadership and sends the wrong message to newly-empowered racist groups nationwide.”

It was not until August 14, two days after the attack warranted a state of emergency, that Trump criticised far-right groups. In a hastily arranged TV appearance at the White House he said, “We must unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence…racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminal and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, White Supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

However, Trump’s delayed condemnation of far-right groups was too little too late for many Americans including civil rights groups, business leaders and fellow Republicans. Rev Al Sharpton, a veteran Black civil rights activist, said, “It took 48 hours. We had the head of state of Germany speak before we had the President of this country. He never really talked about these groups in their very existence stand against the values this country represents … His silence spoke volumes to people. It was too little, too late.”

Virginia’s Democratic Senator, Mark Warner, said: “I’m disappointed that it took him a couple of days.”

Others called on Trump to remove alt-right White Supremacists from the White House including Gorka, Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, and Senior Adviser, Stephen Miller.

Speaking after the appointment of Bannon earlier this year Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for the then Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, said: “It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of White Supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide.”

By August 15 the Trump alt-right saga took another turn, when the President returned to his initial conclusion that there is “two sides to every story” and blaming the “alt-left” as well as far-right extremists for the disorder.

Trump’s insistence that left-wing protesters were partly to blame for the violence in Charlottesville was enthusiastically applauded by the far right, including former KKK leader David Duke. “Thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists,” he Twitted.

Trump was not the sole target of anger, with some railing against the purported lack of media coverage of the mosque bombing. Twitter user Brown Saraah wrote: “Someone bombed a mosque in Minnesota recently. You probably didn’t hear about this because mainstream media likes to demonise Muslims.”

Responding to a New York Times headline, which used the term “explosion” to describe the attack, activist Simran Jeet Singh asked. “Are you kidding with this headline right now? Can you not [call] it terrorism because Muslims were the targets? Why the double-standard?”

Reacting to Minnesota’s Star Tribune headline which read; ‘FBI: ‘Improvised explosive device’ caused blast at Bloomington Islamic centre’ Executive Director of CAIR-Arizona, Imraan Siddiqi tweeted: “Blast (EDIT: You mean ‘terror attack’)”.

Siddiqi’s frustrations with the media double standards is supported by recent research, according to a Georgia State University analysis of terror attacks in the US, attacks carried out by Muslims receive five times as much coverage by the same media compared with terror attacks carried out by non-Muslims.

Muslims were found to have committed 12.4 % of terrorist attacks (between 2011 and 2015) but received 41.4 % of news coverage, representing a 449 % increase in the coverage relative to acts of terrorism perpetrated by non-Muslims.

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