Jehron Muhammad: Using term ‘Islamic terrorist’ tarnishes all Muslims

Mideast Egypt
File photo: A protester ransacking the former Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.

President Trump is receiving pushback at the possibility of signing an executive order that eventually could clamp down on mosques, Islamic charities and Muslim civil rights organizations, according to published reports.

This potential signing comes on the heels of an executive order stayed by the courts that would have banned visa holders and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.

The potential order would designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The group, which renounces violence and won elections in Egypt before being overthrown in a coup, has affiliate groups in Tunisia and Turkey.  Former President Obama resisted pressure to label it a terrorist organization.

Robert McCraw, director of government affairs for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in an email that designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is part of the Trump administration’s strategy to pigeonhole the organization.

“In pushing this designation, Islamic hate groups and their congressional allies are seeking to create a new era of witch hunts and religious McCarthyism where being an American Muslim and political detractor is enough to disqualify you from civic participation,” McCraw said.

Malcolm Nance, the career counterterrorism and intelligence officer and retired U.S. Navy officer, agrees.

“These guys (including Pres. Trump, White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon and the now resigned National Security advisor Michael Flynn) think they are about to have a clash of civilizations,” Nance said, referring to Samuel Huntington’s 1996 book of the same name.

Huntington’s hypothesis suggests people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict.

“They intend to take on the world of Islam,” said Nance, a Philadelphia native who speaks fluent Arabic and spent much of his career based in the Middle East. 

Nance, who as a policy analyst has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, ABC and Fox news, believes the Trump administration will start with Iran.

“The reason they’re starting with Iran is so they can appease the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and all these guys (countries) that want to put Iran in its place,” Nance said.  “My peers in the intelligence community believe the same thing. They want to upset all of the global order. The reason I say that is because they say it publicly.”

In fact, Defense Secretary, James Norman Mattis, the man Mr. Trump fondly calls “Mad Dog Mattis,” has a fixation on Iran that “could lead the U.S. into a replay of Iraq - only this time with a much more ‘disastrous’ consequence to the region,” Al Jazeera has reported.

Nance said Trump wants to change the role of the Countering Violent Extremism task force (CVE) at the Department of Homeland Security into one geared toward, “combating radical Islamic extremism.”  Currently, CVE focuses on "all forms of violent extremism."

“I’m a terrorist practitioner. I’ve been doing this for three decades,” Nance said.  “That’s as racist as they come.” 

As Zenobia Jeffries wrote recently in Yes Magazine, “When you say ‘Islamic terrorist,’ you really are contributing to the harm being done to Muslims because you don’t say the religion of anyone else who does harm.”

Nance said that Trump tweets “to the high heavens” concerning the lone attacker in France carrying two backpacks, who was shot when confronting a soldier with a knife, after being told he couldn’t bring his bags into the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping center that connects to the museum.

But Trump doesn’t tweet about attacks where Muslims are the victims, Nance said. In fact, the White House published a list of supposedly "under-reported" terrorist attacks, following up on President Trump’s claim that the media was deliberately suppressing coverage of such acts. Glaringly absent, many in the press noted, were attacks committed by white men and those whose victims were non-Western.

Nance paid special attention to Alexandre Bisonnette, the white 27-year-old suspect in a terrorist attack against Muslims at Quebec City during evening prayers. The attack left six dead and five critically wounded.

He noted that this terrorist attack was similar to the attack in Charleston, South Carolina where 22-year-old Dylan Roof, a white male, was found guilty of murdering nine African-American parishioners at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church.

Concerning the attack at the Canadian mosque, Nance said, Trump never uttered a word.

“Obama would always call a head of state as a condolence, as an act of common decency of a good human being,” he said. “And then there is Trump. And so, you’re not going to get any condolences and you’re not going to get any acts of decency.”