By Sakeena Rashid
We are 13 days removed from one of the deadliest school shootings in America’s history. On February 14th, in Parkland, FL shortly after 2 pm, Nikolas Cruz was dropped off by an Uber to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—a school he’d previously attended and been expelled from. Carrying an AR-15 rifle, Cruz entered the building and allegedly began firing. By days end, 17 people were dead including both students and staff.
Regardless of what side of the gun control debate you’re on, the latest school shooting has opened up an important national conversation on guns in our society that we all need to have. Law enforcement, students (including those who survived the Parkland massacre), legislators, teachers and of course President Trump are all speaking out.
Trump took to Twitter and suggested that arming school teachers would be a solution to active shooter scenarios within our schools. He went on to add that teachers who chose to carry firearms should also receive a raise. This sparked swift and strong comments from teacher groups across the country who’ve rejected the idea.
The California Teachers Association’s President, Eric Heins responded to Trumps call to arm teachers in a public memo posted to the association’s website. “Arming educators or other school employees with guns to prevent mass shootings does nothing to protect students. Bringing more guns into schools is a misguided and dangerously flawed idea. What’s more, thinking more firearms on our campuses is the answer is the most irresponsible solution you could imagine…” Heins says in a portion of his statement.
Critics of Trumps plan to allow teachers the option of having “concealed carry” weapons in schools have pointed out the fact that there was an armed staff member at Douglas High School at the time of the shooting, who did not stop the shooter.
Sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer Scot Peterson stood armed outside of Douglas High as shots rang out and students took cover. Peterson has been a resource officer at the school since 2009, and at this time it is still unclear as to why he did not go after the gunman as he was trained to do. He has since resigned and received criticism from both Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and President Trump. Trump said addressing the media Friday that Peterson ‘acted poorly’ and suggested that he was ‘a coward.’
Texas has already passed a school marshal law that allows teachers to have guns on school campuses, but not on their person as Trump has suggested. School Marshalls in Texas must go through an 80-hour training program before being allowed to have a gun on campus, which must be locked up but accessible to them.
Over the weekend, NBC News reported that there were three sheriff’s deputies who remained outside of Douglas High School as the shooting took place and did not engage the shooter or enter the building. Sheriff Israel denies reports of two additional officers at the school and issued a statement in response to Rep. Bill Hager’s request that Israel be removed from his position by Florida governor Rick Scott.
Sunday afternoon Gov. Rick Scott called on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate the police response to the school shooting in Parkland, FL. The FDLE confirmed that they would immediately begin their investigation.
So, if armed and trained school staff isn’t the answer, what is? It’s become a popular opinion after a mass shooting or gun related tragedy to suggest that if black Americans went out and bought guns in mass, then that act would finally lead to tougher gun laws. This option suggests that millions of armed African Americans would be perceived as such a threat that those against stricter gun legislation would finally have a reason to vote for common sense gun control.
Past discriminatory laws against African Americans and current bias against black citizens say otherwise. In 1967 the Mulford Act was signed into law by then California governor Ronald Regan outlawed open carry as a result of armed patrols by the Black Panther Party. When the Black Panthers showed up armed to escort Betty Shabazz (Malcolm X’s widow) from the airport, officials were frustrated that they couldn’t apprehend the Panthers under current gun laws. “We have to protect society from nuts with guns,” then CA Chief Deputy AG Charles O’Brien said in an interview with KRON-TV.
Fast-forward some 50 years later and race, discrimination in law enforcement and gun control are still hot-button issues. The controversial “Stop and Frisk” law in NY state has been statistically proven to be unevenly applied against African Americans, as well as Latinos. Over the last 15 years, black New Yorkers made up more than 50% of police stops. In the first quarter of 2017 alone around 57% of police stops were of African American New Yorkers. Compare that with the report that says roughly 9 out of 10 New Yorkers who were stopped-and-frisked were innocent. (Source: NYCLU)
The unbalanced and discriminatory application of these laws against minorities across the country have led to class-action lawsuits and states having to pay out tens of millions of dollars in restitution. Since Trump was elected, The National African-American Gun Association (NAAGA) has reported an uptick in black gun owners. In an interview with NBC news, Kevin Jones, Ohio state director of NAAGA explains the surge in gun purchases among black citizens, “People feel that they have, perhaps, a president that they don’t feel is going to protect them, that’s there for them.”
So, it seems, black Americans have already begun purchasing firearms in greater numbers and are continuing to become first-time gun owners. The increase in black gun owners over that past year has not lead to any tougher legislation or even real conversation politically on gun control. As we’ve seen with the Stop-and-Frisk law, tougher laws can be applied (while unconstitutional) to one segment of the population. By suggesting that black Americans lead the way in enacting tighter gun control laws could result in them having those tougher laws disproportionately and unfairly applied to them.
The latest gun control theory: Muslims should take up arms in large numbers to finally spark a reaction from our government to enact tougher gun laws. Our current administration has expressed open bias against Muslim Americans and vehemently pushed the “Muslim Ban” later repackaged as a Travel Ban, to try and get the controversial law passed. Earlier this month, the third iteration of the Muslim ban was yet again struck down and ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The ultimate fate of the Muslim Ban won’t be known until this summer when the Supreme Court issues a final ruling.
Trump has stated on several occasions that he supports a national registry for Muslims within the U.S. but hasn’t vocalized support for a registry to be created for American gun owners. So, if being an un-armed Muslim is more of a threat than the average armed American—assault rifle and all—would a Muslim gun owner be seen as more American? Less of a threat?
The jury is still out on that theory, but one thing is certain—gun control legislation has been seemingly off limits with the most common-sense proposals being voted down. In June 2016, the senate voted down four amendments that would tighten gun laws. Amendments that included the proposal to bar terrorist suspects and those on watch and no-fly lists from being able to purchase guns. So even if our government has determined that you are enough of a risk that your freedom to travel on our airlines is taken away, you are still not seen as enough of a threat to prevent you from then going out to purchase an automatic assault weapon—with no background check.
Where we draw the line at who is a threat and who isn’t clearly doesn’t depend on the weapons available to them, but in the case of Muslim Americans, it is our ideology that makes us a threat according to some in our current administration. President Trump has famously said “Islam hates us” as if Islam itself as religion has some personhood.
I get it.
I, as a Muslim American mom of three, born and raised in the US, I am more of a threat and in need of being monitored than any random gun owner who hasn’t been screened and who in some cases hasn’t even been trained to use the guns they’ve purchased. It’s clear, my ideology is the problem; one that is anti-woman, stuck in the stone ages and inherently violent.
That’s the narrative the Islamaphobes have been pushing at least, rhetoric which has even come from some of our elected officials. So, with that thinking, a civilian armed to the teeth poses no threat, doesn’t need to be registered, or have their background checked before amassing a stockpile of weapons, as long as they have an ideology deemed ‘American’ enough?
The problem with that line of thought is that stereotypes and spouting biased narratives don’t equate to fact. A 2017 Pew Research study on American Muslims revels that most are proud to be Americans yet worried about their place in society.
Roughly half of American Muslims reported experiencing discrimination within the last year alone (Source: Pew Research Center). Muslims have been the targets of an increasing number of violent attacks and hate crimes, within the last few years. Yet, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has not come out and urged Muslim Americans to exercise their second amendment rights to protect themselves and their families against the rising hate crimes.
In the latest conversations on gun control, the left is blaming the right while many conservatives blame the left for the gun problem in America. The thing is, both groups may be pointing the finger in the wrong direction. A poll by NPR in 2017 says that both political parties, Democrats and Republicans by and large favor increased gun restrictions. So, if both parties are largely in agreement on gun control, why haven’t those laws been put in place?
Pundits suggest that our lack of gun control is directly tied to the money the NRA pays members of congress for political campaigns. Other theories argue that it’s the 5 million strong NRA membership that gives the association the massive political power it wields. Power that the NRA holds by being able to mobilize millions of voters behind issues they support. Just last week at a CNN Town Hall, Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) if he would reject NRA money going forward. Rubio would not say that he would no longer accept NRA funding which led to jeers and booing from the audience.
To suggest that throngs of gun-toting black or Muslim Americans would be enough of a reason to cause real gun control laws to be enacted in this country is a pipe dream. It’s wishful thinking at its worst and a flawed argument at best. One that could potentially get innocent black and Muslim American gun owners killed. We don’t need millions of minorities who are perceived by some within our society as a threat to begin stockpiling weapons.
In 2017, over 15,500 Americans were killed by guns, a 3% increase from 2016. That’s 15,549 reasons to put common sense gun control in place. We don’t need more groups buying guns and the threat of minority militias forming to cause us to act. We simply need to make the safety of every American a top priority.
Malaysians Ask China To Free Uyghurs, Close The Camps
By Gulnaz Uighur
Muslims are standing up for Uyghurs, protests held in Malaysia.
5th of July could be just like another day for people but for Uyghurs, it brings back dark memories of a bloody past. This day, in 2009, thousands of Uyghur students were massacred by Chinese police in Urumqi. These young students were demanding an investigation into the rising number of homicides in a toy factory. These people only wanted justice. They were also upset by the ongoing discrimination in the employment sector. Graduates were denied jobs because of their Uyghur ethnicity. After the protests, China started abducting the Uyghur youth and no one knows where the missing went. Its been 10 years since that horrifying incident and the condition of Muslims have devolved in a genocidal nightmare.
Communist Government in China Has over 2 Million Uyghurs in Concentration Camps
Beijing has now locked over 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. People in these places are forced to denounce Islam, forget the teachings of Quran, prohibited from praying, asked to learn Xi Jinping’s speech and tortured for not obeying these orders. Sadly, Islam is being treated as a disease in China and most of the Islamic nations are turning a blind eye to it.
So Malaysia came as a breath of fresh air when Muslim NGOs organized an anti-China protest against Uyghur persecution.
On 5th July 2019, a coalition of 34 Malaysian NGOs gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest the persecution of Uyghurs. The organizations prepared a memo of protest to be submitted to Chinese officials. In the memo, they demanded Beijing to ‘Respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, in particular, their right to life and freedom of religion and belief.’ , ‘immediately stop the persecution and extreme repression of the Uyghur people.’ and close the camps. They also called upon the International community to increase the voices of protest and disfavour upon the Chinese government and to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions.
The protesters shouted slogans like ‘Me Too Uyghur’ and ‘Save Uyghur’. In a media interview, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim asked immediate freedom for all those who have been detained in concentration camps.
Malaysians Stand With Uyghurs
Abim secretary Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz accused the Chinese government of concealing the plight of the Uyghurs by offering NGOs and government agencies free trips and painting a rosy picture of the camps. Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Islamic Organizations (Mapim), said the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs could not be denied or disguised. The Group of NGOs also included Ikram Association and the Malaysian Youth Council among others.
Though no Chinese official came out to accept the memo, the message was clear that now people won’t keep quiet about the Uyghur persecution. There is a dire need for Muslim countries to break their silence on this issue. There is enough evidence to prove that something unholy and inhumane is happening with Uyghurs. If these countries consider China their friend then ask it to stop being a Shaitan. The leaders must realize that their first duty is towards the Ummah and not towards China.
Now is the time to stand for Uyghurs before nothing is left to be saved.
This protest in Malaysia has proved that people in Muslim countries do support Uyghurs even if their governments are silent and are upset with Beijing’s policies. This event proved that governments may fail to fight but people won’t.
The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran
Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.
When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions. Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”
With tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.
Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:
- Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
- War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
- Emissions caused by US military industry — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
- Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum, namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
- Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
- Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
- Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.
This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.
The Rules of War
Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad instructed his soldiers:
- Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
- Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
- Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
- Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
- If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
- Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
- Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
- Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
- No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
- Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)
A verse in the Holy Qur’an
4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”
How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?
Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.
فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ .
Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘
War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq
Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.
There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”
With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.
In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).
This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.
A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.
5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today
“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.
Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.
In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”
Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1
The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.
In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.
Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”
They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2
On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.
I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.
As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).
How Can You Help Uyghurs
Here are a few things you can do to help:
1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).
2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.
4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products
5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims
This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.
1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/
2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang