Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses during a group picture ahead of Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, early Saturday, June 1, 2019. Muslim leaders from some 57 nations gathered in Islam's holiest city of Mecca late Friday to discuss a breadth of critical issues ranging from a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight of Rohingya refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
June 16, 2019

Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When ...

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses during a group picture ahead of Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, early Saturday, June 1, 2019. Muslim leaders from some 57 nations gathered in Islam's holiest city of Mecca late Friday to discuss a breadth of critical issues ranging from a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight of Rohingya refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of the Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on June 1, 2019.

Photo: Amr Nabil/AP

In 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East, demonstrations also kicked off in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Members of the kingdom’s repressed Shiite minority took to the streets, calling for equal rights and a fairer distribution of oil revenues. The protesters included a group of around 30 kids on bicycles. As a video released last week by CNN shows, those children were led by a smiling 10-year-old in flip-flops named Murtaja Qureiris.

“The people demand human rights!” the young boy can be seen shouting through a megaphone.

Here’s the problem: Demanding human rights in Saudi Arabia lands you in prison. Even if you’re a kid.

Three years later, in September 2014, 13-year-old Murtaja was arrested while on his way to neighboring Bahrain with his family.

“At the time,” reports CNN, “he was considered by lawyers and activists to be the youngest known political prisoner in Saudi Arabia.

Over the past four years, say human rights groups, this teenager has been subjected to torture and intimidation, as well as a spell in solitary confinement. He has been denied access to a lawyer while interrogators try to get him to confess to the trumped-up charges against him. These include “participating in anti-government protests, attending the funeral of his brother Ali Qureiris who was killed in a protest in 2011, joining a ‘terrorist organization,’ throwing Molotov cocktails at a police station, and firing at security forces,” according to Amnesty International.

Last week, we learned that Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 18-year-old Murtaja, who is being tried in an anti-terror court. CNN reports that the prosecutors want to “impose the harshest form of the death penalty, which may include crucifixion or dismemberment after execution.”

Got that? The unelected government of a close ally of the United States is planning on brutally executing an 18-year-old member of a minority group, for crimes allegedly committed when he was 10 years old.

Let me repeat: Ten. Years. Old.

We shouldn’t forget the person who is primarily responsible for this outrage: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS. Since his father installed him in power, the violent crushing of political dissent has escalated. According to the CIA, MBS ordered the horrific murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He is also behind the targeting of three Arab activists in Norway, Canada, and the United States.

Much has (rightly) been made of the crown prince’s shocking record on extrajudicial killings. But what of the growing number of judicially sanctioned killings inside of Saudi Arabia on his watch? The planned execution of Murtaja Qureiris may be the most horrendous act yet.

“There should be no doubt that the Saudi Arabian authorities are ready to go to any length to crack down on dissent against their own citizens, including by resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest,” says Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director at Amnesty International.

The Gulf kingdom is one of the world’s top executioners and, according to Maalouf, Saudi authorities have “a chilling track record of using the death penalty as a weapon to crush political dissent and punish anti-government protesters — including children — from the country’s persecuted Shi’a minority.”

The majority of the country, and the ruling family, are from a strict school of Sunni Islam called Salafism. In April, 37 people were executed in a single day — the biggest mass execution in the kingdom since 2016 — and the vast majority of them were believed to be Shiites. Three of them, according to human rights group Reprieve, were “minors at the time of their alleged offences.” Such executions, as both Reprieve and Amnesty International have noted, are a brazen violation of international human rights law.

Another three Saudi Shiites — Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher — who were also below the age of 18 at the time of their alleged crimes, are still on death row and could be executed at anytime.

It isn’t just Shiites, either. MBS has also targeted Sunni clerics who have failed to fall into line. There have been reports that the belligerent and thin-skinned crown prince plans on executing three high-profile Saudi religious scholars — Salman al-Odah, Awad al-Qarni, and Ali al-Omari — all of whom have been held on multiple charges of “terrorism.” 62-year-old Odah is famous in the Arab world for his relatively progressive views on Islam and homosexuality and his 2007 denunciation of Osama bin Laden. His actual “crime”? Tweeting a prayer for reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and its Gulf rival, the Emirate of Qatar. (Full disclosure: I host two TV shows for Qatar-funded Al Jazeera English.)

Supporters of MBS often try and argue that these executions are the product of decisions made in court, not in the royal palace. This is a laughable defense. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. There is no independent judiciary. As CNN reports, “The death penalty can only be enforced by order of King Salman or his authorized representative. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is frequently characterized as the King’s deputy.”

Forget MBS the reformer; meet MBS the executioner. The fact that he has been embraced closely by everyone from Donald Trump to Emmanuel Macron to Theresa May should be a source of shame for those of us living in the West. To quote former Obama-era National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, MBS is “Kim Jong Un with oil money.”

The post Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 appeared first on The Intercept.

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June 3, 2019

What Connects Meghan Markle to a Philosopher of Totalitarianism? Donal...

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President Donald Trump walks past a guard of honor at Buckingham Palace in London, England, on June 3, 2019.

Photo: Toby Melville/WPA Pool/Getty Images


Question: What is the connection between the American TV actress (and now princess!) Meghan Markle and the legendary German American philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt?

Answer: Donald J. Trump.

On Saturday, in an interview with the British tabloid The Sun, ahead of his three-day state visit to the United Kingdom, the president of the United States was told that Markle, who married Prince Harry in 2018, had denounced him as “misogynistic” and “divisive” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

His response? “I didn’t know that. What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

On Sunday, after a predictable media uproar in the U.K. and beyond, Trump took to Twitter to deny he had called Markle “nasty”:

He later told reporters: “I made no bad comment.”

You’ll be shocked to discover that Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun did not fabricate a quote from the U.S. president. Neither did CNN nor the New York Times. Trump did say the word “nasty.” There is even an audio recording of it!

Yet he denied it. Flatly. Brazenly. Publicly. Proudly. Unashamedly.

We know that Trump is the gaslighter-in-chief. The Washington Post’s fact-checkers say he has made more than 10,000 “false or misleading claims” since entering the Oval Office. But he doesn’t just lie about big issues, such as the nuclear threat from North Korea, or the existence of climate change, or the contents of the Mueller report, or the laws on abortion. He lies about small issues, too: the weather on the day of his inauguration; the size of the crowd at his inauguration; a phone call from the Boy Scouts; the amount of television that he watches; the birthplace of his father … I could go on and on.

The Meghan Markle lie falls into this latter category of small lies. What is the point of it? Why does he try and get away with such blatant untruths on such trivial issues — and why should it matter so much to the rest of us?

Back in November 2016, days after the president-elect had ridiculously claimed in a tweet that he had “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” McGill University political theorist Jacob T. Levy published an essay entitled “Authoritarianism and Post-Truth Politics,” in which he offered an explanation for why Trump tells such lies, and for why they are so dangerous, by leaning on the works of “the great analysts of truth and speech under totalitarianism — George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Vaclav Havel.”

They recognized, Levy said, that “a leader with authoritarian tendencies will lie in order to make others repeat his lie both as a way to demonstrate and strengthen his power over them.”

“Saying something obviously untrue, and making your subordinates repeat it with a straight face in their own voice, is a particularly startling display of power over them,” explained Levy. “It’s something that was endemic to totalitarianism.”

Consider: Fox News published a supportive, 10-paragraph story on its website headlined “Donald Trump says he never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty,’ calls comments about Duchess ‘fake news.’” Only in the tenth and final paragraph did it concede that “there is an audio recording circulating of President Trump saying the exact quote about Duchess Meghan that had been reported.” The @trumpwarroom Twitter account, which claims to be affiliated with the Trump 2020 reelection campaign, shared the audio recording of Trump saying the word “nasty” while denying he said it:

Reality does not matter to these people. It is irrelevant. In fact, Trump’s strategy, to quote Levy once more, is to “undermine the existence of shared belief in truth and facts.”

Why?

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule,” wrote Arendt in her 1951 classic “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” “is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” In a later interview, she went further: “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. And with such a people you can then do what you please.”

Per Arendt then, Trump isn’t just bullshitting or deflecting; he isn’t just demented or defensive; he is actively and consciously borrowing from the authoritarian’s playbook. He lies because he can — and because it serves his purpose. To control, to bully, to degrade those under him and around him. To both command and demonstrate unbending loyalty from his cultish base. This is who he is — and who he has always been. “His aim is never accuracy,” observes Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal.” As he notes, “it’s domination.”

Have we — the media, journalists, fact-checkers — fully reckoned with what Trump is doing and why he is doing it? Credit to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who has sounded the alarm bell in his essential book on the Trump presidency, “An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics.”

“To a degree that defies comparison to other politicians,” writes Sargent, “Trump relentlessly appears to wield his dishonesty as a species of power, as an overt way of exercising maximum dominance.”

Whether big or small, the Trump lie is a power grab. A form of control and dominance. And it doesn’t matter whether the subject is North Korea or Meghan Markle. The end goal is the same.

“The brazenness and shamelessness of his lying is not just a by-product of an effort to mislead voters that Trump is merely taking to new levels,” argues Sargent. “Rather, the brazenness and shamelessness of the lying is central to his broader project of declaring for himself the power to say what reality is.”

Reality, of course, matters. Some well-meaning liberals have suggested that fact-checking Trump is a distraction; rebutting his avalanche of lies is a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Insisting on the difference between truth and lies is itself a part of the defense of freedom,” observes Levy. Indeed, it may be all that is standing between us and a descent into full-blown fascism here in the United States.

As journalists, we cannot therefore tire of asking, again and again, the Marx Brothers question: Who you gonna believe? Trump, or your own lying eyes?

The post What Connects Meghan Markle to a Philosopher of Totalitarianism? Donald Trump’s Lies. appeared first on The Intercept.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., walks up the House steps for a vote in the Capitol on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
May 20, 2019

Republican Justin Amash Gets What Top Democrats Don’t — It’s Tim...

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., walks up the House steps for a vote in the Capitol on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Rep. Justin Amash walks up the House steps for a vote in the Capitol on May 9, 2019.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP

Congratulations to Justin Amash! On Saturday, the representative from Michigan’s 3rd district became the first Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment, arguing that President Trump’s actions and behavior, as detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, “meet the threshold” for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Amash, who is Palestinian-American and a proud Tea Party libertarian, has clashed with the president and his GOP colleagues before, on a range of issues — from the war in Yemen to funding for the border wall to the Muslim ban. But his decision to declare his open support for impeachment is far and away the most dramatic and defiant moment of his political career.

Here’s the start of his tweetstorm on the Mueller report (and it’s very worth your time to read the whole thing).

The thin-skinned Trump was quick to denounce Amash on Sunday morning, calling him a “lightweight” and a “loser,” while again falsely claiming that the special counsel found no evidence of obstruction of justice. (Spoiler alert: the Mueller report contains at least 10 different explicit examples of Trumpian obstruction.)

Amash joins more than 900 former federal prosecutors, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, who believe Trump’s behavior, as outlined by Mueller, would have resulted in “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice” were he a private citizen and not the president of the United States. Conservative law professor J.W. Verret, a former member of the Trump transition team, has written how the “elaborate pattern of obstruction” uncovered by the report is, at a minimum, enough “to get the impeachment process started.”

Plenty of liberals are asking why there aren’t more Republican members of Congress with the guts, eloquence or honesty to say what Amash has said. It’s a good question. But a better, more relevant question is this: why aren’t there more Democrats willing to say the same?

After all, the two most senior members of the House Democratic leadership — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — as well as key Democratic committee chairs, such as Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff, have spent the past few weeks loudly and repeatedly throwing cold water on the idea of impeaching Trump. Pelosi has called impeachment “divisive” and “not worth it.” Hoyer, on the day the Mueller report was released and before he had even read it, said, “Going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point.” Last week, in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to defy congressional subpoenas, Nadler told CNBC: “I don’t want to make it sound as if we’re heading for impeachment. Probably we’re not.”

What is wrong with these people? Why are they so afraid of their own shadows? Pelosi told CNN after last November’s midterms that impeachment should be done in a “bipartisan way.” Well, Amash is a Republican and one of the most conservative members of the House. So it’s bipartisan now. In fact, a few other Republicans might throw their weight behind impeachment too — if Pelosi & Co. can be bothered to hold the hearings, make the case, and call a vote.

Some House Democrats worry that a failure to secure conviction in the GOP-controlled Senate, where they lack the requisite two-thirds majority, might cost them the 2020 presidential election by riling up the Trump base and boosting Republican turnout. Pelosi told an audience at Cornell University earlier this month that she believes Trump is “goading” Democrats to try to impeach him in order to help him “solidify his base” of supporters ahead of next November.

Sorry, this is absurd on so many levels. First, does anyone seriously believe that the petulant and touchy narcissist in the Oval Office wants to be impeached? That he wants to have his actions — and his finances! — pored over by House Democrats? That he wants his kids dragged in front of televised impeachment hearings? That he wants to be remembered by history as only the third president to ever be impeached by the House? Come. Off. It.

Second, the president’s cultish base needs no new excuses to get riled up, and needs no solidifying. These are people who are still chanting “Lock her up!” at Trump rallies. The president’s approval ratings among Republicans, lest we forget, stands at 90 per cent.

Third, the Democrats should worry less about the GOP base turning out next year and much more about their own. A big majority of the Democratic base wants to see Trump impeached. How is it bad politics to give them what they want?

Fourth, what happens over the next 18 months if they do nothing? Can they not see how there is a clear political cost to not impeaching him, too? Listen to Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor who served under presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr.:

Don’t believe her? Check out Trump’s own belligerent behavior since top congressional Democrats effectively took impeachment off the table. “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on,” the president tweeted last week. “Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”

Ludicrous charges of treason aside, Trump has also said it would be “appropriate” for him to speak to Attorney General William Barr about investigating his 2020 Democratic opponents. This is the direct and unsurprising result of immunizing this president from the impeachment process. This is what happens when House Democrats say it’s “not worth it.” Trump now sees himself as unchecked and unrestrained; able to say and do as he pleases. It is an age-old lesson: if you give the bully a pass, he doesn’t back off or calm down. He comes back to bully some more.

Congressional Democrats need to find their spines. This is a period of unprecedented danger for the republic, with a lawless and reckless president gearing up for the dirtiest of presidential campaigns, while committing impeachable offenses in front of our eyes on a near-weekly basis.

Impeachment itself, as outlined in the Constitution, may have originally been designed as a political remedy to be used in “extraordinary circumstances,” but — to quote Amash — the risk right now is “not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.”

On impeachment, therefore, and with apologies to Hillel the Elder, the only real question the Democrats need to ask themselves is: If not Trump, who, and if not now, when?

The post Republican Justin Amash Gets What Top Democrats Don’t — It’s Time to Impeach Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

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May 17, 2019

Four Simple Steps the U.S. Media Could Take to Prevent a Trump War Wit...

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An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 10, 2019, in the Red Sea. The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has been deployed to U.S. Central Command as tensions with Iran have recently escalated.

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Singley/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Here we go again. Sixteen years after the U.S. media helped the Bush administration spread myths and lies about the threat posed by Iraq to the United States and its allies, the Trump administration is spreading similar myths and lies about the threat posed by Iran.

The 64,000-rial question, therefore, is whether or not journalists have learned any lessons whatsoever from the Iraqi WMD debacle of 2003.

Well, consider these recent headlines:

“US deploying more Patriot missiles to Middle East, amid Iranian threats” (CNN)

“Pentagon Builds Deterrent Force Against Possible Iranian Attack” (New York Times)

“U.S. Says Iran Likely Behind Ship Attacks” (Wall Street Journal)

“Iranian threats led to White House’s deployment announcement, U.S. officials say” (Washington Post)

The evidence for these hawkish headlines? For this stream of alarmist media reports about “threats” and “attacks” from Iran? Yes, you guessed it: statements provided to reporters by U.S. officials hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. In some cases, just one official. Take the Wall Street Journal’s scoop:

An initial U.S. assessment indicated Iran likely was behind the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official said, a finding that, if confirmed, would further inflame military tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Why would you trust the word of a single official on such a sensitive and contentious issue? And why, oh why, would you rely on the testimony of a member of the Trump administration, known globally, of course, for its stringent and unbending adherence to the truth?

Also: If you’re going to trust a single anonymous official, in this administration of fanatical hawks and shameless dissemblers, why not trust this particular official who was quoted in the New York Times?

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal planning, said the new intelligence of an increased Iranian threat was “small stuff” and did not merit the military planning being driven by Mr. Bolton. The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States.

Plenty of journalists say they want to learn the lessons of Iraq. But the sad reality is that many of my colleagues in the media are, wittingly or unwittingly, becoming complicit in this administration’s cynical and dangerous attempt “to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States.”

So what to do? Here are four suggestions.

1. Stop the Stenography

Simply passing along the claims of U.S. officials to readers or viewers, without checking whether they are true or not, is not even close to the definition of journalism. Reporters are not supposed to be stenographers to the people in power; they’re supposed to hold power to account.

Showing blind faith in U.S. officials on national security issues, in particular, makes no sense whatsoever. The United States has a long history of starting, or escalating, conflicts on the basis of fraudulent threats and provocations. Remember Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin lies? Remember the first Gulf War and the false congressional testimony about Kuwaiti babies being thrown out of incubators by Iraqi troops? Remember how George W. Bush not only fabricated a threat from non-existent WMDs but also plotted to provoke Saddam Hussein into shooting down a U.S. plane “painted in U.N. colors”?

Then there is Iran. Last week, in a radio interview, Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator and defense secretary under Barack Obama, accused the Trump administration of “baiting Iran in a very dangerous way.”

We all know, of course, that John Bolton wants to bomb Iran. He has said so himself, on the op-ed pages of the New York Times.

So why aren’t reporters more skeptical of the administration’s claims on Iran? Why are they so keen to slavishly and uncritically repeat them to the public, as if they came down on stone tablets from on high?

Take Barbara Starr, CNN’s veteran Pentagon correspondent. Last week, she tweeted:

This week, however, the most senior British general in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS told reporters that “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”

Oops.

“Fool me once,” as President George W. Bush so famously was unable to say, “shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

2. Get Your Facts Straight

Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Iran has complied with the terms of the nuclear deal.

These three statements represent the consensus view of, among others, the U.S. intelligence community, Israeli security chiefs, top U.S. generals, and, perhaps most importantly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If, as a journalist, you report differently, then you have a blockbuster scoop. But there’d better be something behind it beyond the musings of anonymous White House officials.

Yet the New York Times reported earlier this week that the Pentagon’s plan to send 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East partly depends on whether Iran decides to “accelerate work on nuclear weapons.”

How can the Iranians “accelerate work” on weapons that do not exist?

3. Context, Context, Context

We are constantly shown images on our TV screens of Iranians burning U.S. flags or chanting “Death to America.” But wouldn’t it be useful if journalists also provided much-needed context to this long-running conflict between the United States and Islamic Republic? Could they try to explain to their readers or viewers how there are legitimate and long-standing grievances on both sides?

After all, how many Americans are aware of the fact that the Eisenhower administration toppled the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in a CIA coup in 1953? Or that the Carter administration offered safe haven to the repressive dictator, the Shah of Iran, after he fled from the Iranian Revolution in 1979? Or that the Reagan administration helped Saddam Hussein’s Iraq use poison gas against Iranian forces in the Iran-Iraq war? Or that George H.W. Bush’s administration refused to apologize to Iran after a U.S. navy warship shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing all 290 passengers onboard?

It isn’t that hard for journalists to provide historical context in their reporting. Here’s Bernie Sanders laying it out briefly and bluntly, in February 2016, during a Democratic presidential debate with Hillary Clinton:

Nobody knows who Mossadegh was, democratically elected prime minister of Iran. He was overthrown by British and American interests because he threatened oil interests of the British. And as a result of that, the Shah of Iran came in, terrible dictator. The result of that, you had the Iranian Revolution coming in, and that is where we are today.

4. Get Better Sources

Why only quote, or rely on, administration officials? Or men and women in uniform? Or folks from hawkish D.C. think tanks?

Why can’t we hear from skeptical and anti-war voices, too? From Iranian Americans perhaps?

A month before the Iraq invasion, in February 2003, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) produced a study of 393 on-camera sources who had appeared in stories about Iraq on network news. According to FAIR, a whopping three out of four (76 percent) sources were current or former government and military officials, compared to a minuscule 6 percent of sources who were skeptics about the need for a conflict with Iraq. Meanwhile, less than 1 percent — or three out 393 sources! — were “identified with organized protests or anti-war groups.”

I have a suggestion for reporters and anchors looking for guests and sources on the current crisis: If they got Iraq wrong, don’t ask them about Iran.

With a know-nothing yet belligerent president in the Oval Office, a national security adviser who has dreamt of war for decades, and the Saudis baying for blood, the importance of fair and accurate reporting on Iran, and the threat that it may or may not pose, cannot be overstated. Think about this: Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, as well as more than 4,400 American troops, might be alive today had U.S. media organizations — with a few honorable exceptions — done their job in 2003.

In fact, a year after the invasion, in May 2004, the editors of the New York Times issued a a stark mea culpa, under the headline “The Times and Iraq.” “Controversial” information about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, they admitted, was “insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.”

“Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism,” they continued, “were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. … Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”

Is the New York Times planning on issuing another mea culpa entitled “The Times and Iran” a year or two from now? Do U.S. reporters, anchors, and editors really want more Middle Eastern blood on their hands? If not, they need to fix their rather credulous and increasingly hawkish coverage of Iran and the Trump administration — and fix it fast.

The post Four Simple Steps the U.S. Media Could Take to Prevent a Trump War With Iran appeared first on The Intercept.

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May 6, 2019

Joe Biden Won’t Blame the Republicans for Trump. That Should Disqual...

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Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Teamsters Local 249 Union Hall in Pittsburgh, Pa., on April 29, 2019.

Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

There is a long list of reasons to oppose Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. He has a horribly right-wing record on everything from school desegregation to mass incarceration to the Iraq War. He is an old white man running against the most diverse field of presidential candidates in U.S. history. He has a bad habit of making ridiculous and offensive statements.

However, the No. 1 reason why Biden would be an utter disaster both as the Democratic nominee and as president is his belief that Donald Trump is the sole cause of the current political and constitutional crisis in the United States. He has shown a shocking inability (refusal?) to see that Trump is a symptom of longstanding Republican nihilism and derangement — not the cause of it.

In fact, Biden’s obsession with bipartisanship, with wanting to cut deals and make compromises once Trump is out of the way, betrays a dangerous mix of ignorance and naiveté.

Consider the recent New York Times story headlined “Biden Thinks Trump Is the Problem, Not All Republicans. Other Democrats Disagree.” The Times quotes the former vice president telling an audience in Iowa that the Trump administration is a historical “aberration”:

“Limit it to four years,” Mr. Biden pleaded with a ballroom crowd of 600 in the eastern Iowa city of Dubuque. “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration.”

“This is not the Republican Party,” he added, citing his relationships with “my Republican friends in the House and Senate.”

Sorry, what? It is beyond astonishing to hear Biden, of all people, make such demonstrably false claims. This is a Democrat who served as No. 2 to Barack Obama over an eight-year, two-term period in which Republicans, among other things, nominated the know-nothing, race-baiting Sarah Palin as their vice presidential candidate; ran a presidential campaign against Obama suggesting that he was a friend of “terrorists”; declared the “single most important thing we want to achieve” is for Obama to be “a one-term president”; heckled Obama as a liar during his primetime address to Congress; promoted a racist, anti-Obama “birther” conspiracy theory; repeatedly discussed impeaching Obama for spurious reasons; conducted six different congressional investigations into Hillary Clinton and Benghazi; made dozens and dozens of attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act without offering any alternative; brought a snowball to the floor of the Senate while opposing efforts to combat climate change; and refused to allow Obama to fill an empty Supreme Court seat for almost a year.

Yet Biden, writes Paul Krugman in the New York Times, still seems to genuinely believe that his “good personal relations” with leading Republicans in Congress “will translate into an ability to make bipartisan deals on policy,” despite the fact that “we’ve already seen this movie, and it was a tragedy.”

“The big concern about a Biden presidency,” continues Krugman, “is that he would repeat all of Obama’s early mistakes, squandering any momentum from electoral victory in pursuit of a bipartisan dream that should have died long ago.”

Do Democrats really want to nominate a candidate for president who thinks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not responsible for enabling Trump’s multiplicity of crimes and excesses? Who isn’t bothered by constant GOP attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the rule of law? Who ignores the fact that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has warned her fellow party members that anyone who “does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake”? Who pretends 9 out of 10 Republican voters don’t approve of Trump?

This. Is. The. Republican. Party. To watch a shameless whitewashing of the modern GOP —  “This is not the Republican Party” — by the current frontrunner in the Democratic Party presidential primaries is deeply dispiriting. Biden is the wrong candidate for this political moment. The next Democratic president has to be willing to take the fight to the Republicans — not be bent on doing a deal with them. Getting rid of Trump in 2020 won’t get rid of Republicans who traffic in bigotry, screw over the poor, and undermine the rule of law.

Remember: It wasn’t Trump who began the smear campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar over her comments about 9/11; it was Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

It wasn’t Trump who who started the rumor that George Soros was funding the migrant caravan from Central America; it was Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.

It wasn’t Trump who conceived of the pro-rich “Trump tax cuts,” it was the former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It wasn’t Trump who turned Attorney General William Barr into the “Coverup General” — that title was given to Barr by the late conservative writer William Safire in 1992, as the former was helping President George H.W. Bush bury the Iran-Contra affair.

Need I continue? Perhaps Biden should listen not to me, but to his own former boss. “It did not start with Donald Trump,” declaimed Obama in a scathing speech in Illinois in September 2008, ahead of the midterm elections. “He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”

“Over the past few decades,” added Obama while decrying “empty” bipartisanship, “the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.”

Not since 2015 or 2016 — but over “the past few decades.” That Joe Biden cannot — or does not want to — acknowledge this stark reality, and isn’t prepared to aggressively confront it on the afternoon of January 20, 2021, makes him singularly unqualified to be the next Democratic president of the United States.

The post Joe Biden Won’t Blame the Republicans for Trump. That Should Disqualify Him. appeared first on The Intercept.

Security personnel inspect inside St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - The death toll from bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka rose dramatically April 22 to 290 -- including dozens of foreigners -- as police announced new arrests over the country's worst attacks for more than a decade. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
April 22, 2019

When Christians Are Under Attack, Muslims and the Left Need to Defend ...

Security personnel inspect inside St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. - The death toll from bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka rose dramatically April 22 to 290 -- including dozens of foreigners -- as police announced new arrests over the country's worst attacks for more than a decade. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Security personnel inspect the inside of St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

From Christchurch, New Zealand, to Xinjiang, China, there is a war on Muslims. Many of us have spent years writing about it and condemning it. But let’s be clear: from the Middle East to parts of Asia and Africa, there is a war on Christians, too.

On Sunday, as Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community celebrated Easter, six suicide bombings struck churches and hotels across the country, killing at least 290 people and injuring more than 500 others. While no one has yet taken responsibility for the blasts, Sri Lankan officials are pointing the finger at a little-known local jihadist group called National Thowheed Jamath.

To call these attacks heartless and barbaric would be an understatement. Nevertheless, they aren’t the first such Easter-related attacks on Christians. In Egypt, on Palm Sunday 2017, ISIS suicide bombers murdered 45 people in two Coptic churches. In Pakistan, in 2016, a suicide bomber affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban massacred 75 Christians celebrating Easter at a public park. In Nigeria, on Easter Sunday 2012, a suicide bomber believed to be a member of Boko Haram killed 38 Christians outside a church.

I am a Muslim, and I consider myself to be on the left, but I’m embarrassed to have to admit that in both Muslim and left circles, the issue of Christian persecution has been downplayed and even ignored for far too long.

For Muslims, especially those of us living in the West, it simply isn’t an issue we’re comfortable discussing. Perhaps understandably, we don’t want to give the Islamophobes an extra stick with which to beat us. And the fact is that many of those who have raised this particular issue of Muslim-on-Christian persecution in the wake of these latest attacks — such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz or former British Conservative Foreign Minister Boris Johnson — do have a well-documented history of anti-Muslim bigotry. On Monday, the Washington Post noted how the Sri Lanka attacks are stoking “far right anger in the West.”

Meanwhile, progressives struggle to see Christianity, the world’s biggest religion, as weak or vulnerable, while prominent Christian leaders here in the West have been associated with great crimes — think George W. Bush, Tony Blair and the invasion of Iraq. “I do wonder whether on some unconscious level the secular and broadly progressive west thinks that Christianity had it coming,” wrote Giles Fraser, the British priest and social commentator, in the wake of the Sri Lanka bombings on Sunday. “They associate Christianity with popes and their armies, with crusades and inquisitions, with antisemitism, British imperialism, Trump supporters and abortion protesters.”

Fraser, however, conceded that western Christians “haven’t helped” their cause by “describing as ‘persecution’ the minor run-ins that Christianity has had with the law – about cakes for gay couples or street preachers, for example.” Here in the United States, a 2016 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that white evangelicals “are more likely to say Christians face a lot of discrimination than they are to say Muslims face a lot of discrimination” — which is palpably absurd.

The situation abroad, however, is another matter. According to a recent study by Pew, Christians do indeed constitute the most persecuted faith community in the world — they are harassed and targeted in 144 countries, with Muslims harassed and targeted in 142 and Jews in 87.

The Christian nonprofit, Open Doors, publishes an annual World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians experience “high levels of persecution.” Here’s what bothers me so much: while communist North Korea (1) is far and away the worst place in the world to live as a Christian, and while anti-Christian attacks are rising fast in Hindu-majority India (10), seven of the top 10 countries in the world where Christians face “extreme persecution” are Muslim-majority countries. In fact, according to Open Doors, “Islamic extremism remains the global, dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 of the 50 countries on the list.”

On the one hand, it is a smear to suggest 1.8 billion Muslims are to blame for the murderous bigotry of a handful of jihadist groups. It is worth noting that members of Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim community say they warned the Sri Lankan military about National Thowheed Jamat three years ago.

Lalitha, center, weeps over the coffin with the remains of 12-year old niece, Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after it returned home in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

On April 22, 2019, Lalitha, center, weeps over the coffin with the remains of her 12-year old niece, Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church.

Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP


On the other hand, the threat posed to Christians goes far beyond terrorist or militant groups. In many Muslim-majority countries, both the governments and religious establishments have much to answer for. In Iran, the famous Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and three members of his congregation were sentenced to 10 years in prison, in June 2018, for “acting against national security.” In December 2018, the authorities arrested more than 100 Iranian Christians in the space of a single week for the crime of “proselytizing.”

In Saudi Arabia, churches are banned and Christians cannot practice their faith in public. In a 2016 interview with the New York Times, the country’s grand mufti, Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, declared Christianity “not a religion.”

In Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, where 1 in 10 members of the population is Christian, “hundreds of churches have been forced to close,” reported the New York Times on Sunday, and “proselytizing is banned.” In January, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian former governor of Jakarta, was released after serving 20 months in prison on trumped-up charges of blasphemy against Islam.

In Pakistan, the country’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to disproportionately target Christians, who constitute less than 2 percent of the population. Think of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy and spent almost a decade behind bars before being acquitted in 2018. Or Rimsha Masih, the 11-year-old Pakistani Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome who was also accused of blasphemy and, despite being acquitted, was then forced to flee the country. “Not in my name,” I wrote at the time, referencing the persecution of Pakistan’s Christians by the Muslim majority.

The tragic irony is that the mistreatment of Christians goes against both the diktats of the Quran and the life example of the Prophet Muhammad — it is not just un-Islamic, therefore, but anti-Islamic. The Quran reveres Jesus as a major prophet and praises Christians as being among the “People of the Book” who “shall have their reward near their Lord. And they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.”

Prophet Muhammad offered Christians protection from persecution both in his “constitution of Medina” and his “covenant” with the monks of Mount Sinai. More recently, the Marrakesh Declaration, signed by more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, scholars, and heads of state in 2016, declares it “unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights” of Christians, Jews, and other minority communities in Muslim-majority nations.

But is it too little, too late? In recent decades, millions of Christians have been driven from the Middle East — the birthplace of their faith. This is both a tragedy and a scandal. So too is the fact that, according to Open Doors, a “staggering” 11 Christians are killed every single day around the world, on account of their faith.

This shouldn’t be a right vs left, or Muslim vs non-Muslim, issue. Many of us, regardless of our faith or our politics, have been rightly vocal in denouncing discrimination and bigotry against minority Muslim communities in Myanmar and Xinjiang; against the Yezidi minority in Iraq; against minority Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and even here in the United States. Outside of the West, though, Christian communities are also under violent and relentless attack, from North Korea to China, from Sri Lanka to India, from Iraq to Syria. Let’s start giving them the support and solidarity we try and give every other marginalized and persecuted minority.

The post When Christians Are Under Attack, Muslims and the Left Need to Defend Them appeared first on The Intercept.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: A view of the White House on Wednesday evening, April 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. The results of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller will be made public on Thursday in a nearly 400-page report. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
April 18, 2019

Dear Democrats: Mueller Just Handed You a Road Map for Impeachment. Fo...

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: A view of the White House on Wednesday evening, April 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. The results of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller will be made public on Thursday in a nearly 400-page report. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The White House on April 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dear House Democrats,

You told us to be patient. You told us to be cautious. You told us to wait for Robert Mueller.

Well, the time for waiting is over. And the moment for impeachment hearings has arrived.

Forget the mendacious Attorney General William Barr, and his repeated — and repeatedly dishonest — attempts to summarize and spin the special counsel’s report prior to publication.

You now have access to the report itself, and even the “lightly redacted” 448 pages provide you with a clear and detailed road map for impeaching Donald Trump, in line with Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Listen to special counsel Robert Mueller. “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” he writes, adding: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

Got that? The special counsel — who listed 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice in his report and refused to “exonerate” the president — placed the decision firmly in your court. This is the impeachment referral you claimed you were waiting for.

Trump, in Mueller’s view, may not have committed an “underlying crime” in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — but this is frankly irrelevant to the case for impeachment. Listen to one of the 13 managers sent from your august body to prosecute the case against President Bill Clinton in the Senate in 1999. “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job [as president] in this constitutional republic if this body determines your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” said then Republican representative — and now senator — Lindsay Graham. The process of impeachment, he argued, “is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

This is your duty — your obligation! You must restore some sense of honor and integrity to the office of the presidency.

Listen to your Republican and Democratic predecessors, who served on the House Judiciary Committee in July 1974 and published three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. The first article focused on obstruction of justice and cited the president’s “false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” It also cited Nixon’s efforts “to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.”

I defy any of you to read the special counsel’s report and conclude that this president did not lie, lie, and lie again. He lied about Russian interference in the 2016 election; he lied about his campaign’s contacts with Russians; he lied about the covering up of his campaign’s contacts with Russians. Take the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. The president personally dictated a statement on behalf of his son, Donald Trump Jr., which claimed that the latter and a Russian lawyer had met in Trump Tower to “primarily” discuss “a program about the adoption of Russian children.” Here is what Mueller says, however, about the purpose of that meeting: “The Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects, but the Russian lawyer’s presentation did not provide such information.”

I also defy any of you to read the special counsel’s report and conclude that this president did not try and offer “favored treatment” and “rewards” to witnesses and defendants in the Russia investigation, à la Nixon. (Sample quote from Mueller: “Many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view … And no principle of law excludes public acts from the scope of obstruction statutes.”)

Listen to former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 and is author of the recent book, “The Case for Impeaching Trump.” “In light of the Nixon precedent,” she told me over the phone on Thursday, evidence from the Mueller report “strengthens the claim that Trump committed impeachable offenses.” The parallels between Trump and Nixon, Holztman said, “are much stronger than they were before.”

Look, I get it. You’re afraid. You’re afraid of the backlash from your Republican counterparts. You’re afraid of losing in the Senate, where — right now — you lack a majority to convict Trump. You’re afraid that impeachment hearings will distract from your party’s 2020 presidential campaign.

But your job, first and foremost, is to preserve democracy and protect the rule of law. That’s the job assigned to you by the Constitution and also what’s expected of you by the American people. You cannot walk away from it.

Your leader in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said last month — prior to the publication of the Mueller report — that she believes impeaching Trump is “just not worth it.” Sorry, what? If a president who has repeatedly and brazenly misled the American people; welcomed the interference of a foreign government in the U.S. election process while also trying to benefit from it; obstructed justice on multiple occasions in order to try and cover it all up; and also — lest we forget! — praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” is not “worth” impeaching, then … which president is? When will it ever be “worth” it?

And what, then, is the point of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution? If you’re not willing to remove this president from office, in the wake of this damning report, you might as well remove the impeachment clause from the Constitution. If not Trump, who?

According to the special counsel’s report, Trump’s response to Mueller’s appointment in May 2017 was to exclaim, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

Well, House Democrats, the truth is that he isn’t “fucked” until you do your job.

Sincerely,

Mehdi Hasan

The post Dear Democrats: Mueller Just Handed You a Road Map for Impeachment. Follow It. appeared first on The Intercept.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah proceeds to inspect honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Istana on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
April 9, 2019

Stoning Gay People to Death in Brunei Is an Outrage and Not My Definit...

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah proceeds to inspect honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Istana on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah proceeds to inspect honor guards during a welcome ceremony at The Istana in Singapore on July 5, 2017.

Photo: Wong Maye-E/AP

I was 13 years old when I first heard of the Sultan of Brunei. The absolute ruler of a tiny, oil-rich kingdom in Southeast Asia, Hassanal Bolkiah was the subject of a much-discussed TV documentary by the British filmmaker Alan Whicker in 1992. As a young teenager, sitting in front of the television, I was in awe of this Muslim king. He was the richest man in the world! He earned a quarter of a million pounds every hour! He owned more than 150 cars!

Today, however, I’m filled not with awe but with disgust. Brunei has become the first country in Southeast Asia to impose capital punishment for “crimes” such as adultery and gay sex.

LGBTQ Bruneians, who are in particular danger, have been fleeing the kingdom. Can you blame them? According to the Associated Press, “Homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. … But under the new laws, those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second. The laws also apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim.”

This is barbarism, plain and simple. How can a punishment rightly described as “cruel and inhuman” (U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet), “vicious” (Amnesty International), and “medieval” (Human Rights Watch) be considered appropriate or acceptable in the 21st century? Has the Sultan — who isn’t exactly a paragon of moral rectitude himself — taken leave of his senses?

Then again, shamefully, Brunei isn’t alone. A recent study by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association found that there are already six countries that explicitly make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. And, as a Muslim, it is a source of deep frustration for me that 5 out of the 6 are Muslim-majority countries — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia — and in the sixth, Nigeria, the death penalty is imposed only in Muslim-majority or Muslim-plurality states. According to ILGA, there are also 70 member states of the United Nations that “criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts” — and, again, Muslim-majority countries are disproportionately represented on that list. In fact, homosexuality is illegal in the vast majority of the world’s Muslim-majority nations, from Senegal in West Africa to Malaysia in Southeast Asia to Qatar in the Middle East. (Full disclosure: I host two shows on Al Jazeera English, which is funded by the government of Qatar. According to the Qatari penal code, gay sex can result in a prison sentence.)

It is easy to blame all of this rampant, state-sponsored homophobia in the Muslim-majority world solely on Islam. Indeed, the prominent British atheist, scientist, and Islamophobe, Richard Dawkins, cited Brunei’s barbaric new law in order to compare my faith to cancer.

Yet the truth is that nowhere in the Quran is a legal punishment prescribed for the sin, or the “crime,” of homosexuality. There are no authentic reports in any of the Muslim books of history of the Prophet Muhammad punishing anyone for same-sex acts. In fact, even many Muslims today are unaware that the Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality in 1858. Got that? One hundred and nine years before the U.K. and 145 years before the United States, the biggest Muslim-ruled empire on earth decreed that there should be no penalty for being gay.

To be clear: The consensus position among mainstream Islamic scholars, whether Sunni or Shia, is that same-sex relations, like extramarital or premarital relations, are a sin. There is, however, no consensus among scholars about any earthly punishment for committing this sin. Don’t take my word for it — ask Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, described as “arguably the West’s most influential Islamic scholar.”

To point the finger only at Islam, or even at Islamists, doesn’t explain why Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power after toppling the Muslim Brotherhood and is now a hero to Ivanka Trump, has violently cracked down on LGBTQ communities; or why Muslim men are fleeing a “gay purge” in secular Chechnya.

Homophobia is not the monopoly of any one country, culture, or religion. Catholic-majority Brazil is believed to have the highest LGBTQ murder rate in the world. Orthodox-majority Russia passed a “gay propaganda law” in 2013. Here in the United States, anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise and, according to Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Federation, the Trump administration has “done so many things that are as anti-LGBTQ as you could possibly be.” The president has even joked that his vice president wants to “hang” all gay people. (As my friend Owen Jones, perhaps Britain’s best-known progressive and gay commentator, has observed, “If you only talk about LGBTQ rights to bash Muslims, you don’t care about LGBTQ rights.”)

For those of us who are Muslims, however, there is no point denying that queer people do face particular abuse, discrimination, demonization, and violence across the Muslim-majority world. It is long past time for us to engage in a frank discussion about our attitudes toward gay people in our midst. We have to find a way to try and reconcile our beliefs — and Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, has traditionally seen homosexuality as a sin — with the reality of life in modern, pluralistic, secular societies in which gay people cannot be wished away or banished from sight. Personally, as a practicing Muslim, I have had to think long and hard about this over the years, and I have also written before about my own homophobia when I was younger and the lack of compassion and understanding displayed by some in my own community.

Muslims, though, are not a monolith. In the United States, the majority (51 percent) of Muslims now support a legal right for gay couples to marry, compared to a majority (58 percent) of white evangelical Christians who remain opposed. There are a number of prominent Muslim-majority countries, from Turkey and Indonesia to Bosnia and Kosovo, where it isn’t a crime to be gay (though, of course, homophobic prejudice and discrimination still abounds).

And, in an interview on the Deconstructed podcast in February, the soon-to-be prime minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, told me that he plans to repeal his country’s anti-gay laws. Ibrahim, one of the most respected voices in the Muslim-majority world who was himself imprisoned on trumped-up charges of sodomy, said the laws are “archaic,” a hangover from the days of British colonialism, and “nothing to do with Islam or Christianity.” For Ibrahim, “you cannot condemn people for their sexual orientation” because “your sexual orientation is your business.” However, he added, “it will take time” for attitudes to “evolve.”

Here’s the problem though: Gay Bruneians no longer have time on their side. Their Muslim-majority neighbors have stayed silent while Brunei’s Western allies, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have issued the most tepid and halfhearted of condemnations. It has been left to Hollywood celebrities to publish scathing op-eds and launch a loud boycott campaign. So it’s time for the rest of us — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — to make some noise too, on behalf of members of a persecuted minority group who are in genuine fear for their lives.

Remember, this isn’t a debate about Islamic theology or ethics. This isn’t about changing sincerely held religious beliefs. We should all, of course, be free to believe what we want, but while I can’t and don’t speak for other Muslims, I’ll tell you this for free: Stoning innocent people to death is not my definition of Islam.

The post Stoning Gay People to Death in Brunei Is an Outrage and Not My Definition of Islam appeared first on The Intercept.

Students light candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday's shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. Three days after Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
April 3, 2019

Muslims and Jews Face a Common Threat From White Supremacists. We Must...

Students light candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday's shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. Three days after Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Students light candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of the shooting on March 15th, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 18, 2019.

Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

The two of us have been having the exact same conversation for the past decade. About antisemitism and Islamophobia. One of us a Muslim, the other a Jew, we have conducted it in public and in private, on Twitter and on TV. We’ve agreed; we’ve argued; we’ve even wandered off topic to trade tips on how to get through a fast. Now we’ve come together because of the urgent and common threat that we face. Both of our communities are under violent attack from far-right white supremacists.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, last month a white supremacist gunned down 50 Muslims at prayer. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last October a white supremacist gunned down 11 Jews at prayer. Both killers were clear in their loathing of both Jews and Muslims. Both subscribed to the “great replacement theory”, which casts Muslims and other minorities as “invaders” of western societies and a threat to white, Christian majorities. In this narrative, the supposed invasion is a wicked plot orchestrated by the same hidden hand behind all malign events through world history: the Jews. The point was put concisely in an online remark reposted by the Pittsburgh murderer: “It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!”

This is how our haters see us: Jews and Muslims connected in a joint enterprise to effect a “white genocide”. It is an unhinged and racist conspiracy theory – and it has both of our communities in its murderous sights. So there can only be one response: Muslims and Jews must stand and fight it together.

We realise this will not be easy. Both of us are deeply rooted in our respective communities, and we know them well enough to recognise that there are plenty of Jews and Muslims who have long seen the other as an opponent, even as an enemy. Given the deep connection that Jews and Muslims feel with Israel/Palestine, that is perhaps unsurprising.

We understand how this has come about. Jews and Muslims have spilled each other’s blood, in acts of violence that have left deep scars. Jihadists have targeted Jews across continental Europe, whether it be the killing of children in a school in Toulouse in 2012 or shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015. Muslims share the pain of Palestinians living though more than half a century of brutal Israeli occupation, with regular eruptions of violence that have left civilians, including children, dead. To be clear: we are not playing a game of moral equivalence here; rather, we are recognising the reasons for mutual antagonism.

Nor are we denying that there is much prejudice within each community towards the other. Witness the leader of a New Zealand mosque who recently suggested that the massacre in Christchurch was the secret handiwork of Mossad: an age-old, anti-Jewish conspiracy theory in contemporary garb. Or listen to the interfaith activist appalled to discover that a Facebook group of her fellow British Jews was awash with anti-Muslim racism. Across the Muslim-majority world, anti-Jewish tropes and conspiracies have been endorsed and even repopularized. In the U.S., right-wing Jewish figures have been among the most prominent supporters of the “Islamophobia network.” There is a shared error here: both the Muslim who hates Jews and the Jew who hates Muslims forget that the white supremacist hates them both. But that such people exist is proof that the narrative of white supremacism does not just infect white communities – it can infect us all.

Just as we acknowledge that the communities we were born into harbor prejudice, so we are ready to say the same of our chosen political community. We need no lectures on the importance of tackling antisemitism and Islamophobia on the left as well as on the right. Both of us have condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party for its failure to tackle anti-Jewish racism within its ranks while one of us has discussed the importance of avoiding antisemitic tropes in conversation with the controversial Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who herself has been the victim of liberal Islamophobes. Both of us have condemned anti-Muslim bigotry in liberal left circles too, whether it be the British scientist Richard Dawkins comparing Islam to cancer less than a fortnight after the Christchurch massacre, or U.S. TV show host Bill Maher referring to Islam as “the mafia”.

But this is no time for whataboutism. Yes, the jihadist threat to Jews has not gone away. Yes, some liberals have an Islamophobia problem, while some on the left are guilty of antisemitism, both of which can cause our communities to feel fearful and isolated. Fascism, however, is back with a vengeance. The growing and lethal threat to life and limb for Muslims and Jews is now coming not from the far left but from an emboldened and violent far right. In the U.S., in 2018, every single one of the 50 extremist-related murders was linked to the far right, according to the Anti-Defamation League. In the U.K., according to the Home Office, between 2017 and 2018 the number of white suspects arrested for terror offenses outstripped those of any other ethnic group – the first time in more than a decade. In Germany, official figures suggest that nine out of 10 antisemitic crimes in 2017 were perpetrated by members of far-right or neo-Nazi groups.

Should we be surprised? White supremacists are on the march. They see Islam as incompatible with western life. We reject that claim wholeheartedly. Jews too were long told their faith had no place in western society: they were wrong about Judaism and they are wrong about Islam.

That these two hatreds are linked on the right is clear, and not only in the minds of deranged killers. A recent Pew survey of 15 western European countries found that “attitudes toward Jews and Muslims are highly correlated with each other. People who express negative opinions about Muslims are more likely than others to also express negative views of Jews.” In the US, a Gallup study in 2010 found people “who say they feel ‘a great deal’ of prejudice… toward Jews are about 32 times as likely to report feeling ‘a great deal’ of prejudice toward Muslims.” Put simply, the kind of people who hate one of us are more likely to hate the other too.

Such people are animated by a racist ideology that goes wide and deep, amplified by powerful politicians of the right at the highest levels. Take Donald Trump, who says “Islam hates us”, and bans Muslims from five countries – but also rails against “globalists,” understood by antisemites as code for Jews, and in particular, the antisemites’ favorite bogeyman, George Soros. Or top Brexiter Nigel Farage, who speaks of a “Jewish lobby”and condemns Soros as “the biggest danger to the entire western world” – but has also denounced “wholly Muslim” areas of London and gave us the infamous “Breaking Point” poster.

In our view, it is no coincidence that the rise of Trump and Brexit has been matched by a rise in hate crimes on both sides of the Atlantic targeting both of our communities. In the U.S., hate crimes against Jews rose by more than a third and accounted for 58 percent of all religion-based hate crimes in 2017, with Muslims in second place, while in the UK, more than half of religiously-motivated attacks in 2018 were aimed at Muslims, with Jews not far behind.

This is the climate in which we are both worried about the safety of our children. We share each other’s fears. And we both welcome signs that others are beginning to do the same. It’s heartening that Muslim groups raised more than $200,000 for bereaved families at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and heartening too that the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is now raising money for the victims of the New Zealand mosque attacks.

They are setting an example for us all. It is long past time that we Muslims and we Jews looked beyond our undeniable differences, recognize that we face a common and deadly threat, and agree there is only one way to fight it: together.

Mehdi Hasan is a senior contributor to The Intercept, based in Washington D.C.  Jonathan Freedland is a columnist for the Guardian, based in London.

The post Muslims and Jews Face a Common Threat From White Supremacists. We Must Fight It Together. appeared first on The Intercept.

Former Vice President Joe Biden waves after speaking at the International Association of Firefighters at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, amid growing expectations he'll soon announce he's running for president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
March 21, 2019

Joe Biden Is Hillary Clinton 2.0 — Democrats Would Be Mad to Nominat...

Former Vice President Joe Biden waves after speaking at the International Association of Firefighters at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, amid growing expectations he'll soon announce he's running for president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Former Vice President Joe Biden waves after speaking at the International Association of Firefighters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 12, 2019.

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

“The definition of insanity,” Einstein didn’t say, “is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Have the Democrats gone mad? Are they really planning on putting up the same type of candidate against Donald Trump in 2020 that they put up against him in 2016? Is the party bent on nominating Hillary 2.0?

How else to describe Joe Biden, the former vice president and ex-senator from Delaware, who is leading in the polls and has hinted that he’d reveal whether he’s running for president in “a few weeks” and might select a running mate early in the process?

Forget, for a moment, his “blue-collar-uncle-at-the-end-of-the-bar persona.” Ignore also his recent, and ridiculous, claim to have the “most progressive record of anybody” running for president. Consider, instead, the sheer number of similarities he seems to have with the vanquished Democratic presidential candidate of 2016.

Iraq War supporter? Check. Clinton was pilloried by the left and the right alike as a wild-eyed hawk; her vote in favor of the Iraq invasion haunted both her 2008 and 2016 campaigns. In fact, a study by two academics in 2017 found a “significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump” and suggested that if Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin “had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate,” they could have “sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.”

Let’s be clear: If he runs, Biden will be the only candidate — out of up to 20 Democrats running for the nomination — to have voted for the Iraq War. As the influential chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Relations Committee in the run-up to the invasion, Biden (falsely) claimed the United States had “no choice but to eliminate the threat” from Saddam Hussein. A former U.N. weapons inspector even accused the then-senator of running a “sham” committee hearing that provided “political cover for a massive military attack on Iraq.”

Friend of Wall Street? Check. Clinton had a Goldman Sachs problem; Biden has an MBNA problem. Headquartered in his home state of Delaware, the credit card giant MBNA was his biggest donor when he served in the Senate. In 2005, Biden threw his weight behind a bankruptcy bill, signed into law by President George W. Bush, that shamefully protected credit card companies at the expense of borrowers.

National Review later dubbed Biden “the senator from MBNA”. The then-senator’s son Hunter even went to work for the company while his father was pushing through the bankruptcy bill. There’s word for that, right? Trumpian.

As in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders will be bashing the banks again in the run-up to 2020; as in 2016, his fellow frontrunner will be defending them. “I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” Biden confirmed in a speech in May 2018. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”

Champion of mass incarceration? Check. Clinton took flak for supporting the 1994 crime bill, which helped push up the U.S. prison population, introduced new federal death penalty crimes, and hugely exacerbated racial disparities in the criminal justice system. And Biden? Well, he wrote the damn thing!

Remember how Clinton’s loathsome defense of the 1994 bill came back to bite her in 2016? “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘superpredators.’ … We have to bring them to heel.”

You don’t think Biden’s decadeslong “tough on crime” rhetoric will hurt him too? Especially with minority voters? “One of my objectives, quite frankly, is to lock Willie Horton up in jail,” he declared in 1990, as Senate Judiciary Committee chair.

“I don’t care why someone is a malefactor in society,” Biden said in 1993, as he mocked “wacko Democrats” for trying to understand the causes of crime. “I don’t care why someone is antisocial. I don’t care why they’ve become a sociopath. We have an obligation to cordon them off from the rest of society.”

“My greatest accomplishment is the 1994 Crime Bill,” he told the National Sheriffs’ Association in 2007.

Millions of black voters refused to turn out for Clinton in 2016. Why wouldn’t they do the same in response to a Biden candidacy in 2020?

Establishment-friendly? Check. The Clintons arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1993; Clinton then spent eight years in the Senate and four years in Barack Obama’s cabinet. Biden arrived in D.C. in 1973; he spent 36 years in the Senate and eight years in Obama’s cabinet.

When Trump tries to run again as an anti-establishment outsider in 2020, what will Biden’s response be? And will grassroots Democrats rally behind a candidate who befriended and defended notorious segregationist Strom Thurmond, and whose allies brag that he is a “a guy who actually gets along with Mitch McConnell and a number of other Republicans”? This is supposed to be a selling point?

Gaffe-prone? Check. You think the “deplorables” line from Clinton was bad? Did you cringe at “Pokemon Go to the polls”? The former vice president has a long list of excruciating “Bidenisms.” Remember when he asked a state senator in a wheelchair to “stand up … let ’em see ya”? Or when he told a largely African-American audience that Mitt Romney was “going to put y’all back in chains”? Or when he said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent”? I could go on. And on. And on. (And don’t even get me started on the “Creepy Joe Biden” videos …)

Why nominate a candidate for president who’ll make Trump look … what’s the word … normal?

Loser? Check. Clinton won the Democratic nomination in 2016, at the second attempt, having been defeated by Obama eight years earlier. For Biden, it would have to be third-time lucky. His supporters might not want you to remember this, but he has run for president twice already: In 1987, he quit the Democratic primary race within three months of announcing after being accused of plagiarizing parts of his speech. In 2008, he dropped out after coming fifth in the Iowa caucus, winning less than 1 percent of the vote.

Yet now, it seems, he and his supporters believe this serial loser is the only Democratic candidate able to win back white-working class voters from Trump and triumph in the 2020 presidential election?

Where is the actual evidence for this ludicrous claim? For a start, a recent poll found that “every potential Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election — announced and unannounced — would beat President Trump in a head-to-head contest.” (As Biden himself conceded to The Intercept in December, “I think anybody can beat him.”)

The bigger issue, however, is that there is no question for the Democrats in 2020 to which Biden is the answer. Have they really learned no lessons from three years ago?

The post Joe Biden Is Hillary Clinton 2.0 — Democrats Would Be Mad to Nominate Him appeared first on The Intercept.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Police officers cordon off the area as they inspect the Al Noor Mosque, the shooting site, after gunmen attacked the two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 40 people were reportedly killed in twin terror attacks targeting mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, an official said on Friday. Witnesses claim the Al Noor Mosque was targeted by armed assailants and there were up to 200 people inside for Friday Prayers. (Photo by Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
March 15, 2019

Don’t Just Condemn the New Zealand Attacks — Politicians and Pundi...

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Police officers cordon off the area as they inspect the Al Noor Mosque, the shooting site, after gunmen attacked the two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. At least 40 people were reportedly killed in twin terror attacks targeting mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, an official said on Friday. Witnesses claim the Al Noor Mosque was targeted by armed assailants and there were up to 200 people inside for Friday Prayers. (Photo by Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Police officers cordon off the area as they inspect the Al Noor Mosque after gunmen attacked two mosques and fired multiple times during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.

Photo: Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“It’s the birthrates.”

So begins the online manifesto of the man accused of shooting and killing at least 49 Muslims in a terror attack targeted at two mosques in New Zealand.

“Even if we were to deport all Non-Europeans from our lands tomorrow, the European people would still be spiraling into decay and eventual death,” it continues. “In the end we must return to replacement fertility levels, or it will kill us.”

The alleged shooter goes on to refer to his “dislike” of Muslims, and his particular hatred for converts to the Islamic faith, while referring to the attacks as “revenge” against Islam. He talks of a “white genocide” and describes Muslim immigrants as the “most despised group of invaders in the West.”

Whether or not this manifesto turns out to be a trap, designed for the purposes of trolling, baiting, and “shitposting,” as Bellingcat’s Robert Evans has argued, there is no denying that it is a hate-filled screed. It is vile, viciously anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, and unhinged.

But what it is is not shocking. There is nothing shocking about it. How can there be? Have you not been paying attention? Much of his rhetoric and references are borrowed from the political and media mainstream — especially here in the United States.

When I read his manifesto, I couldn’t help but think of high-profile American politicians, such as the president of the United States who said, “Islam hates us,” referred to “people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds,” and compared a caravan of migrants to an “invasion.” Or Sen. Ted Cruz, who called on “law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Or Sen. Marco Rubio who said he was in favor of “closing down anyplace — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — anyplace where radicals are being inspired.” Or Sen. Lindsey Graham who declared: “If I have to monitor a mosque, I’ll monitor a mosque.” Or former Gov. Mike Huckabee who described Muslims in the Middle East coming out of mosques on Fridays “like uncorked animals.” Or even former President Bill Clinton, who suggested at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 that Muslim-American citizenship was contingent on good behavior and proving loyalty: “If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together.”

When I read the alleged shooter’s manifesto, I couldn’t help but recall how right-wing pundits have made so many similar statements — and paid no penalty. For example, author Ann Coulter who has spoken openly of “ragheads,” “camel jockeys,” and “jihad monkeys,” declaimed three days after 9/11 that “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.” Or commentator Ben Shapiro, who believes that a “majority” of the world’s Muslim population is “radicalized” and has claimed that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” Or Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has won the support of neo-Nazis by repeatedly making not-so-coded references to the white genocide conspiracy theory and has also dismissed Iraqis as “semiliterate primitive monkeys.” Or Brigitte Gabriel, friend of the president, who thinks that “a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Quran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday … cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.” Or Steve Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart News and ex-adviser to the president, who has declared, “Islam is not a religion of peace” but “a religion of submission,” and warned that the U.S. could transform into the “Islamic States of America.”

When I read the manifesto, I couldn’t help but remember the names of some prominent liberals, too, such as atheist and scientist Sam Harris, who dubbed Islam “the mother lode of bad ideas” and announced that “we are not at war with ‘terrorism.’ We are at war with Islam.” Or TV host Bill Maher who called Islam “a mafia” and accused “violent” Muslims of bringing “that desert stuff to our world.” Or author and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has demanded that Islam be “crushed” and thinks “every devout Muslim who aspired to practice genuine Islam, even if they didn’t actively support the [9/11] attacks, they must have at least approved of them.” Or novelist Martin Amis, who once said, “There’s a definite urge — don’t you have it? — to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation — further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan.”

To be clear: I am not suggesting that any of these people, whether conservatives or liberals, politicians or pundits, are directly responsible for this heinous crime. We don’t know — yet. (The alleged shooter does, though, praise Donald Trump “as a symbol of white identity and common purpose,” and claims that “the person that has influenced me above all was Candace Owens,” an “alt-right,” social media superstar. Again, this may or may not be shitposting.)

What I am suggesting, however, is that violence does not exist in a vacuum. In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, the right has demanded that progressives and Muslims crack down on “preachers of hate.” Remember the so-called conveyor belt that leads from nonviolent rhetoric to violent acts by Muslims? Remember how “ideology matters”?

Isn’t it past time for conservatives to take their own advice?

And what of the rest of us? What lessons will we learn from this latest hate-filled atrocity in New Zealand? Are we willing and able to stand up to Islamophobia on days when there are not brutal terrorist attacks on Muslims in mosques? Will we call out vile anti-Muslim rhetoric when we see it on cable news, or in our newspapers and magazines — or only when we see it quoted from the online manifesto of a deranged mass murderer?

I doubt it. “People who can only condemn racism and Islamophobia — being ‘horrified’ and ‘shocked’ — only when so much blood is spilled are part of the problem,” the Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal observed on Twitter on Friday. “Because the rest of the time, they are busy normalising & minimising them.”

The post Don’t Just Condemn the New Zealand Attacks — Politicians and Pundits Must Stop Their Anti-Muslim Rhetoric appeared first on The Intercept.