We live in an era when acts of terrorism happen with frightening regularity. The recent attack in lower Manhattan brought the sad reality of Islamic terror back to American soil again. Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck along a bike path blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attacks and plowed into unsuspecting people, killing eight.
Here’s what we know. Saipov followed the instructions from ISIS-related social media accounts for lone wolf vehicular attacks. His own social media accounts included links to ISIS-related groups. Authorities found a note near the truck Saipov rented that declared — in Arabic — that ISIS would live forever. Witnesses reported that Saipov shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “Allah is great,” as he exited the truck.
“Allahu akbar.” That’s the sticking point that the mainstream media can’t get around. It’s as if the press can’t bring themselves to admit that Islamic terrorism is Islamic, and the way they address that very phrase proves that they don’t want to make the connection between Islamic terrorism and Islam.
Take Jake Tapper, for example. He caught some flack — much of it based on misunderstanding — for stating that we can hear the phrase “Allahu Akbar” “under the most beautiful of circumstances and too often we hear of it being said in moments like this.”
Tapper, an otherwise reasonable journalist, later tweeted that the phrase was a prayer and that non-Muslims will never defeat Islamic terror if we don’t understand that “Allahu akbar” can be used in a non-threatening way. In other words, if we admit that it’s okay to say “Allahu akbar” when you’re not running over innocent people, terrorists everywhere will magically lay down their arms. Thanks for that, Jake.
And then there’s the New York Times. The paper published a 600-plus-word article attempting to reclaim “Allahu akbar” from the mouths of terrorists, reassuring all of us that it’s “quite an innocuous expression.”
“Let’s say your football team is mounting an attack,” said Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian author. “You can say, ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’ and you’re pushing them along, like, ‘Go for it, go for it, go for it.’”
Even more prosaically, Ms. Soueif said, “You see a really beautiful woman or a good-looking guy, you go, ‘Allahu akbar.’”
But the phrase — to many Muslims’ distress — has also been seized on by jihadists who claim that Islam justifies their attacks on innocent civilians in the name of God.
Ok, so it’s a soccer chant and a way to ogle the opposite sex all rolled into one. It’s a phrase-of-all-trades!
The kicker comes at the end of the piece where another Islamic writer all but gives up on trying to make others comprehend the benign nature of the phrase.
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.”
So it’s our fault for interpreting the cries of Islamic terrorists as, well, the cries of Islamic terrorists. Yes, peaceful Muslims use the phrase, but that fact does not divorce it from its use as a cry before an act of terror. Most people get that “Allahu akbar” can be used in a non-threatening way. It’s not about the phrase itself; it’s the way in which terrorists use it.
John Wilkes Booth reportedly shouted the phrase “Sic semper tyrannis!” [Latin for “Thus always to tyrants!”] after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. That declaration is also the state motto of Virginia. We don’t fall all over ourselves trying to explain that all Virginians don’t advocate the murder of our 16th president when they recite their motto.
This is what wonder: if a small group of Christians began running down crowds in automobiles “in Jesus’ name,” would the press fall all over themselves to make sure everyone knew that most Christians don’t kill people when they pray? I wouldn’t think so.
And what if a group of terrorists recited the Shema or other Jewish blessings and prayers before blowing up a shopping center? Would the media see fit to remind us that most Jews don’t commit acts of terror? I doubt it.
The always brilliant Dr. Albert Mohler did a terrific job of explaining why the use of “Allahu akbar” in the context of terrorism is important. He even gave the media credit when they got it right!
There seems to be a resistance among the mainstream media in the immediate aftermath of the news breaking about the attack for the media to report the use of the words “Allahu akbar” by the assailant, but now we know that the use of those words was too well attested by too many witnesses for it to be denied. So to the credit of the New York Times and virtually every other major new source, by the time the story broke in the newspapers on Wednesday morning, well, those words were included to the credit of the news media very early in the story. But that just points to the fact that there is a protective instinct right now in terms of the media elites in particular to try to avoid any linkage with Islam unless that linkage is undeniable and made utterly necessary.
Dr. Mohler hit the nail on the head! So many times, news outlets go too far in making the obvious links to Islamic terror when a heinous act takes place. And now that same media swings too far in making sure we get it through our thick skulls that “Allahu akbar” is not bad in and of itself.
I believe we can all admit that the vast majority of Muslims don’t say “Allahu akbar” in the context of killing innocent people. So if we would all admit that fact to the media, would they stop trying to lecture us? Yeah, right.