Samir A. Zedan
When Joe Biden was advised during his presidential campaign to quote a Hadith that Muhammad had said regarding what he described as “wrong” and how to deal with it, Biden did not know that it also meant an incitement for the use of violence to achieve that goal. Using “the hand” to correct an alleged wrong for Muslims can also mean, for example, violent acts such as the mutilation of a statue of Virgin Mary, as a Palestinian Muslim immigrant did recently in Italy. Why would Biden’s advisors propose using Islamic Hadith as a means of outreach to Muslims in the US and abroad? Here is Biden’s video.
During Obama’s presidency, Muslims got used to hearing testimonies of how Islam was innocent of promoting terrorism, especially when the terrorist attacks were increasingly common throughout the world. Phrases such as “extremists have distorted and insulted the great religion of Islam,” or “Islam is a religion of peace” were constantly uttered to comfort Muslims and absolve Islam from any wrongdoing or bellicose teachings.
It is no wonder that this stance led to an unprecedented increase in the number of terrorist attacks in the United States, which targeted both civilian and military installations. The numbers of terrorist attacks soared during Obama’s presidency, as compared to the term of President Trump.
When former President Barack Obama delivered his speech at Cairo University in June 2009, Muslims clearly perceived it as an apology by the United States, which served as a certificate of good conduct to Islam. Obama’s call for a new beginning with the Islamic world clearly resonated with the new policy the US was about to implement.
Following that speech, dramatic changes were seen in the US administration — especially in the State Department — to redefine the terms that were used. The term “to fight terrorism” was specifically changed “to combat violence and extremism,” as the department relied upon foggy explanations for different sorts of acts of violence.
Here are examples of the new policy and terms used in public videos on YouTube by the US Department of State, which aimed mainly to absolve Islam from any sin while mixing facts with fallacies to support the new public diplomacy approach.
In this video, the State Department edited President Obama’s speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, focusing on his use of the word “violence” rather than terrorism, and his statement that “Islam is a great religion of peace.” (Please watch from minute 3:00 on.)
Here, the State Department uploaded a video for an Arabic-speaking audience, explaining how Muslims in the United States enjoyed freedom of religion (which other religions are denied in most of their countries of origin) and celebrated their Islamic holidays, using the infamous Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Arlington, Virginia as an example of a place where Muslim families gathered for all sorts of activities.
This mosque was used by the renowned terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was its imam before fleeing to Yemen in order to begin coaching Muslims in the United States to carry out terrorist acts on behalf of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The killing in Fort Hood of 13 American soldiers who were about to be deployed to Afghanistan was perpetrated by Major Nidal Hassan, who formerly frequented that mosque and was a staunch follower of al-Awlaki. (They remained in touch after both left the area; Hasan was deployed to Texas, while Awlaki fled to Yemen).
It was also confirmed that two of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were frequenting that Islamic center.
All these facts were deliberately ignored by the State Department, which insisted on showing the mosque as a beacon of coexistence and peace. What could be more misleading and deceptive than that?
After the Oslo attacks that took place in July 2011, the State Department released a video in Arabic in which it claimed that terrorism had “no religion, nor state, nor justification.” The facts that the attacker was suffering from schizophrenia and did not follow any specific political or religious group were totally omitted. The video implicitly sought to make the attack look similar to terrorist attacks that were inherently connected with the teachings of Islam. Again, it was a desperate attempt to make Muslims feel in harmony with their Islam, “the religion that does not support terrorism.”
Here one can see how the State Department was trying to link the killing of the US ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi by Ansar al-Sharia to a movie called “Innocence of Muslims,” which was produced in California by an Egyptian immigrant. Astonishingly, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared in this video to condemn the movie and its content, even though we continually hear about films released in the US that stir controversy among many religious groups, yet we have not seen their followers resorting to terror and death threats against the producers or against the US in general.
In fact, Clinton’s statement could be easily perceived by Muslims as a recognition of Islam’s supremacy among all other religions. It is worth contrasting it with the recent statements of French President Emmanuel Macron, who insisted on the importance of freedom of expression and rejected any Islamic threats from both Islamic states and individuals. No wonder Muslims yearned for the days of Hillary Clinton, who took the initiative to cover for their mischief.
In this video, instead of highlighting the poisonous ideology that prompted two Muslim men (who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel while he celebrated Mass in his church in July 2016, the Department of State juxtaposes the incident with Iraqi Shiites burying an old Christian woman who lived and died alone in Misan province.
The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication Center (CSCC) at the US Department of State called the video “The humanitarian nature of the Iraqis and the brutality of ISIS,” which was yet another attempt to vindicate Islam and make it look like the victim rather than the culprit. This was a deliberate deviation form the truth and despicable disrespect to the memory of the priest, who was known for his docile and peaceful character
It is not surprising that President Trump’s administration abolished this inept policy and restored the prestige of the US State Department, once again dedicating it to representing the United States and defending the values and convictions on which it was founded. No wonder Muslims worldwide are impatiently waiting for Biden’s inauguration as president of the USA. The return of issuing such statements as were common during the Obama administration will definitely make them feel completely in harmony with Islam and its teachings.
Samir A. Zedan is a former Senior Counter-Terrorism Analyst at the US Department of State, and a former Development Outreach and Communication specialist at USAID/Iraq. He has contributed to hundreds of articles published in major media outlets with assignments in the Palestinian Areas, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Europe.