To US media Canadian shooter being Muslim ends investigation

24 October 2014
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

October 24, 2014

I really feel sorry for the journalists working in Canadian media who are reporting on Wednesday’s tragic shooting death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo.  You see, they are apparently required to do actual journalism to determine why the gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed the soldier. 

They were obligated to interview family and friends documenting Bibeau’s mental problems. They had to research his extensive criminal past and his struggles with drugs. They even were required to visit the homeless shelter Bibeau had been staying in before the shooting and interview people there who know him.

And, of course, they also mentioned that he was Muslim and the possibility of radicalization. But the Canadian media discussed his religion in the context of offering the public a full portrait of Bibeau and trying to understand his motivation.

In the United States, however, once the media finds out that a person involved in a horrible crime is Muslim, that's the end of the investigation. We don’t hear about mental issues, drug use, family problems, etc. To most in our media, if you are Muslim, then ergo, therefore, consequently, anything you do must, without a doubt, be because you are a Muslim.

For example, NBC news featured an article titled, “Who Is the Canadian Parliament Shooter?” The very first sentence of that article read: “The man who gunned down a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday was a convert to Islam who had already been designated "high-risk" by authorities.”  (emphasis added.)

There you go: he was a “convert to Islam.”  Who needs anything more? And if you read the entire NBC article, there isn’t even a mention of the religion Bibeau converted from to Islam.  But I understand why-no one wants to sully the name of any other faith.

And CNN went as far as to tell us about a new phenomena I never heard of before to explain the possible reason for the shooting called: “Sudden Jihad Syndrome.”  Apparently any law abiding normal Muslim could suddenly and without warning become a jihadi!  I really hope pharmaceutical companies come out with a medicine to protect me from that condition before I contract it. Maybe they can call it, “Jihad begone” or “Jihad away.”

But as The Daily Banter’s Tommy Christopher pointed out, this term was not created by health care professionals. Rather, it was coined by the worst anti-Muslim bigots as a way to scare people into thinking that any Muslim could suddenly start waging a holy war. 

In contrast, Canada’s National Post ran a headline describing Bibeau as "a man troubled by drugs and crime.” The Post gave readers a sense that Bibeau was less of a calculated jihadi and more of a person plagued with a history of mental issues.

Canada’s CBC also offered the public a nuanced view of Bibeau apart from simply being a possible Islamic terrorist so that all possible causes could be considered.  

Canadian reporters, as shocking as this may be to American media outlets, even left the crime scene and travelled to a homeless shelter that Bibeau had been living in for a few days before the attack. There the reporters spoke to people who described the gunman as being “very bizarre.”  They also noted that the only reference Bibeau made to Islam was that everyone should pray five times a day “because the end of the world is coming.”

And when Islam was discussed by the Canadian media, they noted that Bibeau had been thrown out of a mosque for "erratic behavior."  They even included interviews with various Canadian Muslims denouncing Bibeau which, incredibly, media outlets like the CBC posted on the home page of its website.

Don’t get me wrong, the Canadian media did discuss the fact that Bibeau was Muslim and acknowledged the possibility he had been radicalized. But that was not the prime focus of the news reports. Rather, they painted a full picture of Bibeau as a homeless man with a criminal record, a history of drug problems, a person estranged from his family for years and noted the distinct possibility that he was mentally ill. 

Of course, apparently to the US media, Muslims can never be insane.  I guess we, Muslims, are immune to mental disorders.  Thus, everything a Muslim does is part of a calculated jihadi plot, not the work of a madman.

But when a non-Muslim in the United States commits a horrific shooting, such as at the Sandy Hook elementary school, the first thing our media typically does is provide us with a detailed mental analysis of the suspect. Why isn’t that also the case when the suspect is Muslim?

I’m not saying that Bibeau will not ultimately be determined to be a radicalized Muslim. But the Canadian media makes it clear that it will take an actual investigation to determine why this attack occurred besides just focusing on his religion and calling it a day.

Perhaps one-day members of our media will show the same level of responsibility and thoroughness as its Canadian counterparts. But until then, expect to see more investigations by our media end as soon it’s discovered that the suspect is a Muslim.


Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast.  He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!"  You can follow Dean on Twitter.


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When Bigotry Comes to Your Hometown

12 July 2014
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

July 11, 2014

Typically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.

The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.

The small hearing room that accommodated 60 was packed with the faces of brown and white people, while others filled the hallways and adjacent conference rooms. For the next three hours, this hearing would be the big show in this small town. And it didn’t disappoint.

At the outset of the hearing, the attorney for the mosque, sensing that the room was filled with opponents, made a simple plea to the municipal board members: “This is not a public referendum, it’s a question of law.”

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Rand Paul's Muslim-Bashing Speech

14 October 2013
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

October 14, 2013

(The Daily Beast) Was Rand Paul’s most recent, big set-piece speech about A. The government shutdown; B. The debt limit; or C. The dreaded Obamacare? Nope, it was none of them. Instead, Paul spent his 19-minute speech at the Value Voters summit on Friday talking about Muslims.


Now, I’m Muslim and I love attention - so on some level I’m happy when people talk about Muslims.  But despite what some may tell you, not all press is good press. And in the case of Rand Paul’s speech – it was awful press for Muslims.  In fact, by the end of  Paul’s talk, he had almost convinced me to hate Muslims.

Instead, his speech made me realize just how desperately Rand Paul wants to be President. Paul opened his speech with an attention grabbing line:  “From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity.”

Now, I thought he would be talking the typical fare: “war on Christmas,” Obama wants you to take birth control, gay people have the audacity to want to get married, etc.

But nope. Paul quickly made it clear that the war on Christians is being waged by Muslims.  How did he support this theory?  He would cite isolated actions by a few Muslims in various countries.  In fact, in the cases of Boston and Zanzibar, Paul noted the actions of two Muslims in each location to support his thesis that there are up to a “100 million” Muslims who want to slaughter Christians.

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I'm Muslim, and I hate terrorism

25 April 2013
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.

I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.

The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.

The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.

We hate these terrorists more than non-Muslims do. How can I say that? Because they harm innocent people in the name of our religion and consequently we suffer a backlash because of their acts. It can be anything from a spike in hate crimes to people viewing Muslims as less than fully American because of our faith. We are the ones called to answer for the sins of people we detest.

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The GOP has a Muslim problem

03 September 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- A Catholic priest, a rabbi, an evangelical minister, a Sikh, a Greek Orthodox archbishop and two Mormon leaders walk into the Republican National Convention.

It sounds like the beginning of a joke. But the Republican Party's decision to invite representatives from all of these faiths to speak at this week's convention, but to exclude a Muslim-American imam, is anything but funny.

The Republican Party has a problem with Muslims. Of course, American Muslims can take some solace in the fact that we are not the only minority group that the Republican Party hardly welcomes.

Let's be honest, if you don't like Muslims, blacks, gays, immigrants or other minorities, which political party would make you feel most comfortable? Sure, some Republican officials are minorities, but a recent Galllup survey found that 89% of the Republican Party is white.

To be clear, I don't believe that most rank-and-file members of the Republican Party hate Muslims. The problem is that certain Republican leaders have stoked the flames of hate toward American Muslims, and other minorities, as a political tool to motivate people to support their cause.

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