Why the Hell Are You People Afraid of Someone Screaming Allahu Akbar?

I posted yesterday on how NBC News was running a story on Muslims fearing a “backlash” less than six hours after an Islamist terrorist killed eight people and injured 11 on a New York City bike path. Needless to say, the fear was bogus but the people remain very dead. Now the New York Times has its offering ‘Allahu Akbar’: An Everyday Phrase, Tarnished by Attacks. Look at the promotional tweet for a flavor:


When H. A. Hellyer is out walking with his family, strangers sometimes approach him and declare, “Allahu akbar!”

Many Westerners may find it hard to believe these days, but Mr. Hellyer does not recoil in fear.

“I’ll be walking out with my kids,” he said, “and someone will say: ‘Oh, they’re so cute. Allahu akbar.’ And I’ll joke, ‘Thank you — now stop talking to my kids.’”

The Arabic phrase, which means simply “God is great,” has, it sometimes seems, become intertwined with terrorism.

“Somehow?” Like we just woke up one morning and, as a society, said, “let’s grab a random Arabic phrase and associate it with terrorism?”

Still, when it comes to Allahu akbar, there is no denying that what it means can depend on who is saying it.

Ms. Soueif pointed to the reported use of the phrase by the suspect in the Manhattan attacks. Mr. Hellyer suggested, though, that in the end, it had little real meaning.

“People may read the headlines about the attack and say: ‘Oh, he said “Allahu akbar,” so that means something,’” he said. “Well, it probably means that he thinks it means something — but that shouldn’t mean anyone who says ‘Allahu akbar’ is suddenly about to do some violent act. Far from it.”

Mohamed Andeel, an Egyptian cartoonist and writer, wonders if it is worth trying to teach non-Muslims the real meaning of Allahu akbar.

“If you tell people not to be afraid of something,” he said, “they will basically learn to be afraid of something else.”


CNN weighs in: What ‘Allahu Akbar’ really means.

Is “Allahu Akbar” sometimes used as a battle cry? Yes, though as Sen. John McCain has argued on Fox News, that does not make the phrase itself abhorrent. While noting that “moderate Muslims” also say “Allahu Akbar,” McCain said the phrase is no more troubling that a Christian saying “Thank God.”

But the way “Allahu Akbar” often appears in the media seems to serve a nefarious agenda: to instill fear of anyone who utters the phrase and to raise concerns even about Islam itself. But a lone terrorist who shouts “Allahu Akbar” while murdering innocent people in the streets of New York does not get to own that term. Nor do those who declare that no further details are needed to determine motive once a man with a Muslim-sounding name perpetrates an attack using those words.

Except McCain is a doddering old idiot and we don’t say “Thank God” when we kill innocent people, singly or en masse.

The Huffington Post: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’.

Ahmed, of MPAC, said she believes every terrorist act done in the name of Islam not only takes away innocent lives but also threatens the security of Americans who are Muslim.

“Because there is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about our faith and community, those who seek revenge for these attacks will usually direct their anger toward the first innocent Muslim they see on the streets, at school, and at public places,” she told HuffPost. “Since 9/11, this has been our reality. Whenever there is any terror incident done in our name, we mourn not only as Americans, but we mourn the hijacking of our faith and brace ourselves for potential backlash.”

That’s why Ahmed believes education about Islam is crucial. Instead of allowing the Islamic State to define what Allahu akbar means, she said it’s important to seek authentic, legitimate voices and interpretations of the phrase.

“When we allow [ISIS} to define Islam for the masses, we end up giving their twisted ideologies a platform and spread their hatred and fear,” Ahmed said. “The media and our government leaders have a lot of power in how it covers and responds to ISIS that can be harnessed to help achieve what we all want – the complete and utter defeat of ISIS and its ideology.”


This is simply misdirection, the use of Allahu Akbar has nothing to do with ISIS. And it brings up the whole “not real Islam” trope the Islamists have hidden behind since 9/11. No one in the Sunni Arab world doubts ISIS is real Islam. No Islamic voice has accused ISIS of heresy or apostasy.

You can recall that earlier in the week, Jake Tapper (okay fanbois close your eyes because you don’t want to read what comes next) made this grotesque nonsequitur as the NYC terror attack was being reported:

His framing of Allahu Akbar as something “that is often said in the most beautiful of moments” when juxtaposed with a developing terror attack didn’t make sense at the time, but it seems to be closely related to this op-ed.

You can approach this in one of a couple of ways. You can say, hey, the guy has a point. But then you have to ask yourself how often Muslims have been reported to the police as terrorists for saying Allahu Akbar in conjunction with talking about cute kids. I suspect that number approaches zero. Or you can view it all in the context of the backlash story and the half-joking media matrix:

The logical extension of the train of thought in these articles is that there is something wrong with us for connecting the phrase with terrorism since every time the phrase is used a terror attack doesn’t happen.

What I find disturbing in the whole mix is no one ever criticizes the use of the phrase, particularly the Islamists and their fellow travelers, like Barack Obama, who try to convince us that Islamist terror is outside the realm of normal Islamic behavior. No one thinks it is wrong, indeed blasphemous, to dedicate to the Almighty an act of violence directed against the innocent. That, in and of itself, tells you a couple of things. First, none of these people think it is wrong to kill infidels. Second, they know that these acts of terror are condoned by the larger Muslim community, particularly the community of religious scholars.


We are being asked to disarm. We are being told that we are to blame for Muslims feeling unease after a terror attack, not the guilty conscience of the person who isn’t all that sad the attack happened. We are being told that associating Allahu Akbar with terrorism is a reflection of our own bigotry and small-mindedness because actually, the saying is very cool.



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