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A letter to Lindsey Graham about Mohammad
Amer Zahr
by Amer Zahr
July 17th, 2015 (5 Comments)
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Dear Senator Graham,

What happened yesterday in Chattanooga was tragic.  Everyone should agree about that.  It should be assumed.

The alleged shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, was a 24-year-old American of Arab descent.  He came to this country with his family as a young child from Kuwait and became a naturalized citizen (like many of us).  His friends and fellow community members reported being shocked by his actions yesterday.  They didn't see it coming.  He showed no warning signs.  He wrote a blog (some are calling it a "manifesto"), where he basically gave some sermons on Islamic belief and basic principles.    It was a little religious for my taste, but nothing overtly extreme.  To this point, Abdulazeez has not been found to have any connections to any organized group like ISIS or otherwise.

Dylann Roof is the 21-year-old American of white descent who murdered nine worshippers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 18.  He was born in Columbia, South Carolina.  Some of his friends and fellow community members were surprised by his act (as you might imagine), but many were not shocked at all, recounting how Roof said he was planning an attack. He told numerous friends that he believed in segregation. He told police he wanted to start a race war. He told his victims that they had to die because black people were raping white women and taking over the country.  And he wrote a blog too (and this one was a "manifesto"), where he advocated staunchly white supremacist ideals. Finally, he did openly latch onto a quite radical group, The Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization dedicated to the separation of the races, because, you know, it's holy: “Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God,” so they say.

These are the facts as we know them, Senator Graham.  You called Dylann Roof a "whacked-out kid."  Now, since it seems that we have at least the same amount of evidence (or perhaps a lot more) of premeditation and evil in Charleston than we do in Chattanooga, I was hoping you could give Mohammad the same courtesy.  I pray his name doesn't cause you to hesitate.

See, we Arab and Muslim Americans have a fairly tough time with acceptance in this country.  You saw this firsthand when a man in Iowa approached you suggesting we ban Islam in America.  By the way, thank you for telling him that you "couldn't disagree with him more," and for informing him that you were "not his candidate." Though it does scare me a little bit that I'm thanking you for simply saying that the practice of Islam should be legal in the United States.  But thanks anyway. On another note, thanks for coming around on the Confederate Flag.  After years of supporting it, you changed your opinion (and there's nothing wrong with that).  It was the right thing to do.

I don't know if I'm really getting my point across, Senator Graham.  It's hard for me to articulate it well.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that we Arabs and Muslims watch the news a little differently than everyone else.  We hear the media, politicians, and analysts label criminals who don't look or sound like us as "deranged, delusional, and disturbed." (Those are all synonyms of "whacked-out.")  In fact, when a white pilot took 149 people along with him on a suicide crash into the French Alps, CNN talked to me for two weeks about "depression."  And news outlets, law enforcement officials, and politicians (save a few journalists) didn't publicly call Roof's rampage "terrorism."  They didn't call him a "lone wolf."  When it came to Abdulazeez, on the other hand, the FBI said, “We will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not."

Now, I'm not advocating that we throw the moniker of "terrorism" on all white criminals as quickly as it is thrust upon us.  I'm just asking that we get the "deranged-delusional-disturbed-depressed" treatment every now and then.  We need this, not because Mohammad's crime wasn't horrific, and not because we shouldn't delve deeply to learn what motivated him, but because if we are really interested in equal treatment, then we need not only humanize the "good" Muslim Americans amongst us, but we must do it for the "bad" ones too.

So, Senator Graham, I beg you, please get on Fox News and let the world know that Mohammad was a whacked-out kid too.  It's the right thing to do.

Sincerely,
Amer

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* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

Comments (5)
  1. Khaled Khorshid ... July 18th, 2015 - 09:43

    I agree. this crimes are coming from unstable personalities react to local or world events in unacceptable ways. Some of them wrongly think that this acts are justified or even Holly! They are no different than those crazy people who are leading wars in Muslim countries and raising Holly flags! Do not allow these incidents make us confused or be a reactionary against others good citizens and declare wars against certain groups. God bless America.

  2. Amer, that was very well said and honest. Thanks for voicing your opinion and not be intimidated as many wish Arabs and Muslims, to fade and shy away from giving their opinion about what’s right and what’s just for all of us, no matter what religion or faith we choose.

  3. Halina Minadeo ... July 18th, 2015 - 16:34

    We all know by now what the reaction will be when a Muslim commits an insane criminal act as opposed to when a non-Muslim commits the same type of atrocity. It is insane and unfair. But that is what results from constant brainwashing. Muslims are now “Hannibal ad portas,” “The Russians are coming,” “Boogeyman!” This is a tragic scare tactic fostered by the very government of the United States. No matter how stupid and untrue the statement about Muslims and terrorism, once it is said there is no revoking it. We need more voices to oppose the idiocy, so thank you, Amer, for your beautifully worded articles.

  4. Exactly. I also don’t want to hear too much talk about Muslim/Islam or terrorism let’s talk about gun violence as well like we did with Dylan. We spent three seconds on racism in regards to him and the rest of the time was spent on gun violence, so for Mohammad, let’s not talk about terrorism or Islam or why he did it, but instead about gun violence since it’s soooo important.

  5. Writing from Australia where, by the way, our government leaders are silent about some “conservative” Senators and Representatives taking part openly in anti Islam campaigns, we are still benefiting from the decision made by those same leaders in 1996 when 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in a gun massacre. Against furious opposition from many gun owners on their own side of politics the very conservative federal government negotiated with all state governments to restrict gun ownership and have a nationwide voluntary buy-back of guns. The Prime Minister of the time was visibly wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit coat when he addressed angry crowds. The legislation worked; there has not been a single mass shooting since the restrictions came into force. Sports shooters and farmers can still have their guns but the rate of shooting deaths is at an all-time low. Conservatives did that, with the active support of all major political parties of both the left and the right.


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