Recently three Americans were hailed as heroes in subduing a gunman on a high-speed train between Paris and Amsterdam. No one was killed. All of that should be reason for celebration, however, some people took it as an opportunity to display their prejudice toward Islam and Muslims.
During the incident, a French passenger first accosted the gunman according to the account by the New York Times. The gun went off, A bullet hit a passenger, but the gunman continued. Led by the impressively muscular Airman First Class Spencer Stone, three friends including National Guard Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler.
What’s unfortunate is that comments for the Good Morning America/ABC/Yahoo article and other articles took this as an opportunity to condemn a whole religion: Islam.
One person took aim at President Barack Obama: “We need to send Spencer to Washington for the muslim in the White House.”
Another wanted to re-program all Muslims: “There needs to be some kind of coercive movement to force Muslim Leaders to help re-educate all Muslims that jihad, rape, beheadings, and shooting civilians will send Muslims to Hell, not heaven. These terrorists attacks from predominantly Muslims, are because they’ve allowed themselves to become brainwashed from rich Dictators, Communists, and evils people possessed by evil spirits to believe they’re going to get to their idea of Heaven. What Creator, what God would possibly want to share a blissful heaven with violent-thinking Muslim minds who have nothing but evil intentions to want to go around harming other people all the time?”
Or another man wrote: “Islamic terrorism at it as usual we civilized non muslim people must unite to destroy forever this evil that confronts and threatens all of us islam is a evil ideology hiding in plain sight a s a religion no religion that ever was or ever will be commands the followers of that religion to commit the evil acts islam does of the followers of islam most people are born into this terror cult and cannot escape or become brainwashed and corrupted by the evil teachings to leave islam
In another comment, deportations of all Muslims was suggested: “We need to face reality and deport all muslims; they practice a religion of hatred and murder. To deny this is simply another facet of the deceit taught by the Koran. Having muslims in our country is analogous to having baby rattlesnakes in a petting zoo.”
The gunman is Moroccan and he is identified as an Islamic extremist. The anti-Islamic commentators assume that none of the people involved in disarming him were Muslim, a safe assumption since according to the 2010 census only 0.9 percent of the U.S. population was Muslim.
Muslims do, however, have a long history in the U.S. with the first recorded Muslim coming as a Moroccan slave in 1528. A few Muslims fought in the American Revolutionary War. Almost three hundred Muslims fought in the American Civil War according to the Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. During World War I,
More recently we have other Muslim heroes who were American servicemen. Some have died serving the U.S. They include Capt. Humayun Khan of Bristow, Virginia who was killed on June 8, 2004 in Iraq. He was only 27. Then there’s Major James Michael Ahearn, the recipient of two Bronze Stars. He died in 2007 at age 43 after serving 18 years in the military. Then there is Kareem R. Khan who died in 2007 in Iraq at age 20.
There are more. According to The Islamic Workplace, the Defense Department estimated 3,500 Muslims have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In Arlington, the graves of Muslim soldiers can be seen. Some of these soldiers served in World War II. During World War II, over 15,000 Arab Americans fought for the U.S. and some of those people were Muslims.
On Sept. 11, 2001, a young 23-year-old doctor named Mohammad Salman Hamdani ran toward the World Trade Center. The Pakistani-born Hamdani was a NYC Police Department cadet and an Emergency Medical Technician. His body was found in October at Ground Zero. Later that month, U.S. Congress declared him a hero.
Between 1980 and 2005, an FBI report found only 6 percent of terrorist acts were carried out by Muslims. Jewish Extremists were just slightly worse at 7 percent. Extreme Left Wing Groups made up 24 percent. Oddly 42 percent of the terrorist acts were simply categorized as Latino.
In the European Union only about 2 percent of all terrorist attacks are religiously motivated. According to the same article in ThinkProgress.org, in 2011, not one of the 174 terrorist attacks were inspired by terrorist organizations. In 2010, only three were classified as Islamist. In 2009, only one was related to the Islamic militancy.
Earlier this year a young Mali-born Muslim man, Lassana Bathily, 24, was granted French citizenship after he hid a group of shoppers in the kosher supermarket when it was attacked by gunman Amedy Coulibaly. French-born Coulibaly killed five people before being killed himself. Amedy Coulibaly was also ethnic Malian.
It seems unfortunate that some U.S. citizens cannot celebrate heroism without also celebrating their hate. In the current war situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military forces counts some Muslim nations as allies and Muslims continue to serve. Yet for some people, Muslims and Islam continues to be an enemy undifferentiated.
As with this current incident, the gunman was identified as Moroccan, Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25. Not all Moroccans are Muslims although the statistical information is 99 percent. Not all of those Muslims are extremists. Not even all of the Muslims in Morocco are Arab. Just as not all Americans are Christian nor are all Christians members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The three Americans, one French man and one British man helped stop a gunman in a train. Let’s commend them, but not by spreading hate toward a whole religion.