While all eyes are fixed on Ukraine and wondering if Dementia Joe is going to back our woke, distracted military into World War III, a telling incident at the University of Connecticut demonstrated a feature of our glorious multicultural mosaic that has not often been seen in America before: the jihad between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
UConn’s Daily Campus reported that on Monday, February 7, the university “distributed turbahs for Shia Muslim students to use at the Islamic Center of the University of Connecticut and the wellness and meditation space in Homer Babbidge Library, the two main prayer areas on campus for Muslim students.” Turbahs are pieces of dirt or clay from the sacred ground of Karbala that Shi’ite touch to their foreheads during the prostrations of Islamic prayer. These turbahs “were donations to the university and came directly from Iraq.” But “the next day, the Ahlul Bayt Student Association at UConn, an organization for Shia Muslim students, found out the turbahs distributed to ICUC had been vandalized and thrown out.”
For all we are told about the prevalence of “Islamophobia,” some might have assumed that “Islamophobes” disposed of the turbahs, but no, the culprits were actually Sunni Muslims. To make matters even worse, the paper also noted that “this is not the first anti-Shia incident to occur at UConn; according to members of the Ahlul Bayt Student Association, an organization for Shia Muslims at UConn, anti-Shia rhetoric has occurred for years. ABSA claims that ICUC has not been a welcoming environment for Shia Muslim students, with ICUC keeping anti-Shia books inside the mosque, and requiring approval for the placement of worshipping items such as turbahs in the space of worship.”
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Campus, the Sunni Muslim Students Association condemned the vandalism and claimed that it had nothing to do with the incident, but dodged a meeting with the Shi’a to discuss concerns, and the Shi’a, claim that the MSA’s apology was “neither direct nor official.” In response to the incident, the Muslim Student Association “released a statement condemning the vandalism, claiming that the ICUC executive board had no connection to the attackers. The MSA claimed the e-Board lacked any knowledge that turbahs would be placed in the mosque and reiterated that the placement of any religious items in the mosque requires ICUC approval.” Yet the MSA was less than cooperative and conciliatory: “While MSA claims ICUC apologized to ABSA for the incident and offered to pay for turbahs and discuss concerns, ABSA claims they could not schedule a meeting and that an apology from ICUC was neither direct nor official.”
The Daily Campus added that “given the anti-Shia Muslim hate and the divide between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims, more events and educational opportunities should be made available to students to eliminate misconceptions regarding the Shia sect.” The Shi’ites were likewise unhappy about the response it got from the university about this incident: “Furthermore, this incident occurred on Feb. 8 and the UConn administration has yet to publicly condemn and oppose this hate. The UConn administration should address this incident, make it clear that such hate is unwelcome at the university and spare no resources investigating those responsible.”
We have heard this kind of thing before, in a slightly different but related context. The Shi’a demand for “more events and educational opportunities” for students, so as “to eliminate misconceptions regarding the Shia sect,” mirrors the longstanding and widespread claim that “Islamophobia” can be stamped out by seminars and outreach events that “eliminate misconceptions.”
Such efforts never actually stamp out “Islamophobia” understood as suspicion or distrust of Islam except among the credulous and ill-informed, because the suspicion and distrust of many people regarding Islam is not based on “misconceptions” at all, but on an actual awareness of Islamic texts and teachings. Likewise the Shi’ites at the University of Connecticut will realize eventually, if they don’t actually know already, that the Sunni hatred for them stems not from “misconceptions,” but on Sunni teachings regarding Shi’a Islam as a heretical, twisted form of Islam. No educational efforts will undo that conviction.
The Sunni-Shi’ite relationship has been characterized by 1,400 years of violence. We can be grateful that the UConn controversy didn’t involve any violence. But the smart money would be on that violence coming here eventually.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.