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On December 21, the New York Times published an article by reporter Scott Shane titled “In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees Mortal Threat to U.S.” The article tried to subtlety discredit Gingrich and others talking about the Islamist agenda in the U.S., twice stating that “many scholars” feel the threat is being overblown and it is “roundly rejected” by most experts.
The Times opens up with some of Gingrich’s quotes, such as when he called Sharia a “mortal threat.”
“Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence. But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Shariah,” Gingrich says.
Gingrich’s warning is then characterized as a “much-disputed thesis in vogue with some conservative thinkers but roundly rejected by many American Muslims, scholars of Islam and counterterrorism officials.” Those warning about the Islamist threat within the U.S. are thus depicted as being part of a political fringe without credibility.
The article does quote anti-Islamist Muslim activist Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, who says he appreciates Gingrich’s stance, but this is the minimal level of balance required to stop the piece from turning into an op-ed. The rest of the quotes downplay the threat and ridicule Gingrich for making it an issue. There is no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood or any of the reasons why the issue of Islamism has gained traction.
“[It] takes your breath away, it’s so absurd,” Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University is quoted as saying. It ends with a quote from a former supporter of Gingrich’s, an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security, Mohamed Elibiary. Elibiary is at the center of a scandal. He is suspected of trying to leak sensitive law enforcement documents to the media to try to expose the so-called “Islamophobia” of Rick Perry. He calls Gingrich’s rhetoric “anti-Islam” and “propaganda for jihadists.”
The fact that many opponents of the Islamist agenda do not equate it with Islam or Muslims as a whole is not mentioned. Neither is the fact that the issue at hand is Sharia-based governance and not the non-threatening practice of Sharia in Muslims’ private lives.
Scott Shane was previously confronted by Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islam and director of JihadWatch.org, over his reporting on the July 2011 massacre in Norway by Anders Breivik. Shane placed a heavy focus on Breivik’s use of Spencer’s material, implying that it inspired him into acts of violence. Spencer noted that Breivik was planning violence long before he even began writing about Islam.
In that article, titled “Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.,” there were no quotes defending Spencer and the other critics of Islam. The title immediately framed them as having an agenda against Muslims, instead of being critics of the state of their religion. The statement that was the closest to defending Spencer was from Marc Sageman, but even his quote attributed some responsibility to the anti-Islamists for Breikvik’s actions, saying that “they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged. This rhetoric is not cost-free.” The article sparked a back-and-forth between Shane and Spencer via email.
On September 2, the New York Times published an opinion piece titled “Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America.” Its main argument was that the fight against Sharia Law is the modern-day manifestation of anti-Semitism and is fundamentally un-American, bigoted and dangerous. A pattern can be seen in the pages of the New York Times where the case against the Islamist agenda is misrepresented and vilified.
The evidence substantiating the anti-Islamists’ worries is plentiful, yet unmentioned in these articles. The trial of the Holy Land Foundation proved that the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the U.S. through powerful front organizations. The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to “wage a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” A 2009 court ruling confirmed the links between Hamas and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust, the lattermost of which owns at least one-quarter of the mosques in the U.S.
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