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Teri Blumenfeld

Teri Blumenfeld is a researcher with the Middle East Forum, and with the Department of Justice for terror fundraising trials.
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On the Rise: Islamists Scapegoating Children for Blasphemy

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 - by Teri Blumenfeld

The latest Muslim mob violence mobilized by religious clerics over the video Innocence of Muslims was indeed disturbing. However, the more troubling issue that merits true outrage is the uptick of Islamists targeting children with charges of desecration or blasphemy as a means to intimidate local non-Muslims.

The shocking October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani 14-year old girl, sparked worldwide outrage. Islamist militants came to her school and shot her in the head and neck for “promoting Western culture”; several of the girl’s classmates were injured in the attack. Al-Qaeda’s media arm publicized its reasoning for the need to kill Malala, claiming it was not her educational activism, but rather that she “had denounced jihad” and thus insulted Islam. Young Malala was airlifted to the UK for treatment, and for fear of further harm to her and her family.

The zealotry of these defenders of the Muslim faith extends to all who would defame their prophet, including young children. One would think that children, in some cases illiterate, could never be judged responsible for such heinous acts, punishable by death according to sharia (Islamic law) and Pakistan law under Section 295-C. Unfortunately, poor Malala is not alone in being a young child targeted for the crime of insulting Islam.

Perhaps October was “Defile the Quran month,” as a number of cases have appeared recently of non-Muslim children in Muslim countries accused of desecration or blasphemy against Islam.

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Homeland’s Implausible Take on Islamic Radicalization

Sunday, October 7th, 2012 - by Teri Blumenfeld

Homeland, Showtime’s highest-rated drama, returns to edify American viewers about jihadist motivation this month. A Hollywood-style take on a POW turned Muslim subversive, the producers call it “an exploration of terrorism, intelligence analysis, and paranoia in the post-9/11 era.” Though Homeland makes for titillating television, viewers should beware of its questionable political agenda and puerile take on radicalization.

Homeland is based on the Israeli Prisoners of War (POW), a wrenching examination of three captive soldiers and the complexities of their re-entry into the world. Homeland’s Muslim subversive, U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, is an awkward amalgamation of three prisoners profoundly contrasted in POW who have different demeanors and return to different family realities (one in a coffin). In lieu of these riveting characters, Homeland features paranoid CIA agent “crazy Carrie” Mathison, and the tired theme of U.S. government malfeasance. In the end, Homeland bears little resemblance to POW, where national security implications play (thus far) a secondary role. In fact, the whole idea of Homeland’s turned-Muslim subversive may have been plucked from the last few minutes of the Israeli POW’s season finale.

The characterization of Brody and his path to radicalization is rife with “teachable” moments rendered in a persona with whom Americans can readily identify. The premise is that, after years of barbaric torture, Brody is given a luxurious bath that somehow washes away his identity as an American soldier with a wife and kids. He then embraces Islam and befriends his torturer’s son.

Brody bonds with the boy, and pursuant to the boy’s death from an errant U.S. missile, Brody pledges allegiance to his bin Laden-like terrorist father, Abu Nazir. Why Brody should blame the United States rather than the father, a targeted terror mastermind with few qualms about exposing his child to harm, is never explained.  Yet co-producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa ask us to accept that this is what animates Brody’s path of revenge. Ironically, in reality several U.S. strikes against Osama bin Laden were aborted for fear of collateral damage.

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