Even in our deeply troubled times, last month was particularly violent for Muslims. It began with Buddhist monks going on a rampage against Muslims in Kandy, a city south of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. The rampage started after a fight between some Muslim youth and a truck driver in which the driver was unfortunately killed. The monks turned it into a Buddhist-Muslim conflict. On March 9, a group of terrorists belonging to the Sadeq Shirazi group stormed the Iranian embassy in London. This is a “Shi‘i” group backed by Britain and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia (you read that correctly). The London police did nothing to stop the terrorists from carrying out their dastardly crime. On March 11, a masjid was firebombed in Berlin. A few days later, a newly sworn German minister said Islam did not belong in Germany.
In Tempe, Arizona, two women and their children went to the Tempe Islamic Center (March 4) to hurl abuse at Muslims, calling them terrorists. The women stole literature from the masjid and videotaped themselves, later posting their video on Facebook. Both women have since been charged. Such attacks have escalated after Donald Trump became president of the United States.
On March 13, Trump fired US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, typically via a tweet. Then he appointed the rabid Islamophobe and Iranophobe Mike Pompeo, hitherto serving as CIA director, to replace Tillerson. There was more bad news. Trump nominated Gina Haspel to become CIA director. Haspel has a horrible record. She was in charge of a black site in Thailand in 2002 where she oversaw the repeated torture and waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah and ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month and on one occasion, nearly choked to death, which was sufficient cause for Haspel to mock him. His head was also repeatedly slammed into walls, not to mention other forms of debilitating torture. Despite interrogators concluding he had no useful information to provide, his torture continued. Under Haspel’s watch, the sessions were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the CIA station in Thailand until 2005. Later, while serving at CIA headquarters, she ordered the tapes destroyed as public opprobrium was mounting on leaks of the existence of the video evidence. Although officially banned, torture is still practiced. Trump has said torture works and he is in favor of it.
Across the Atlantic, letters were sent last month to many people in Britain including Muslim lawmakers calling for “Punish a Muslim Day” on April 3. Muslims in London, Bradford, Cardiff, Leicester, Sheffield, and Birmingham received such threats. Specific instructions included pulling the headscarves off Muslim women to verbal abuse and even physical attacks and firebombing of masjids. “Nuking Mecca” was also part of the attack plan.
And then there was a brazen attack by Indian colonial forces in Muslim-majority Kashmir. Members of the UN Military Observer group were visiting a village on the Pakistani side of Kashmir where Indian artillery fire had killed two civilians when the invading forces opened fire again killing two more civilians on March 13. Such brazenness would be hard to find anywhere else. The Indian colonial army is also killing Kashmiri civilians in Srinagar and other towns in Kashmir.
As anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks on Muslims escalate, Muslim families are beginning to ask whether they have a future in the West? Even children are not spared; this is because the atmosphere has been so poisoned that it has seeped into all strata of society and has affected all ages. Teachers and university professors too are not immune from the Islamophobic bug. The head of an American university called on students to arm themselves and kill Muslims. This has already happened at a number of American schools where armed men have shot and killed innocent children. The victims, however, are not necessarily Muslims.
The latest shooting rampage occurred on March 20 in a Maryland school where two students were injured before the shooter was killed. The previous month (February 14), at a school in Parkland, Florida, 17 people, many of them students, were shot and killed by a white terrorist! There have been a string of shootings at schools with calls from Trump that students and teachers should arm themselves. Many teachers have rejected this saying they would rather arm themselves with knowledge than guns.
America already is a very violent place. At 40,000 gun-related deaths each year, it has the highest murder rate in the world. Muslims are singled out because this serves the Western elite’s war agenda as most wars are waged against Muslim countries.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).