Adalberto Toledo, a reporter at the News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, refused to do his job. He didn’t want to tell his readers about the Islamist hostility toward Jews expressed by Ahmed Taha, a 2019 appointee to Champaign’s Human Relations Commission (HRC). For Toledo, the problem was not the hateful things Taha had said — but those who highlighted his bigotry.
Prior to his appointment to the HRC, Taha had approvingly quoted a hadith that declared, “O Muslim, O servant of God. There is a Jew behind me, come kill him.” And in another post, he suggested that Mohammad Sisi, the president of Egypt and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a Jew. In a third post, he linked to a YouTube video that purported to be a “who’s who” of “The Rothschild Zionism Secret Regime in America.” (The posts have been deleted, but screenshots can be seen here. Be warned, one of the posts contains a distressing photo of a teenager killed during a protest in Egypt.)
When confronted with Taha’s ugly rhetoric by Sam Westrop from the Middle East Forum, Toledo declared that MEF was “anti-Muslim” and that the Taha who posted the crazy things on the internet was a different person from the HRC appointee. Toledo’s protestations to the contrary, the evidence against Taha was strong enough to prompt then-U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to withdraw from the ICNA-MAS conference he helped organize in 2016.
The impulse on the part of journalists to turn a blind eye to the threat of Islamism is not a new phenomenon. As documented by Daniel Pipes in 2009, even religion reporters obscure the issue of Islamism in their articles.
The problem is evident at Sojourners, a publication that caters to “progressive” Christians. Sojourners has published numerous stories about the hate and hostility broadcast by Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas while portraying concerns over the application of sharia in the U.S. as a form of “Islamophobic” hysteria.
In 2016, Sojourners published an article produced by the Religion News Service (RNS) suggesting that Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., was not an Islamist despite his having “pledged allegiance to ISIS, or the so-called Islamic State group” and invoked the memory of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing as he spoke to police during the attack.
Speaking of the Marathon bombing, journalists downplayed the role Islamism played in that attack as well. In 2013, The Huffington Post published an article suggesting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a perpetrator of the bombing, was a “white supremacist,” despite ample evidence that he was motivated by Islamism. The Boston Globe took a similar approach, suggesting that the perpetrators’ religious beliefs played a “secondary role” in the attack.
More recently, journalists have refused to cover the violent rhetoric of Osama Siblani at a May 15, 2022 rally attended by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib. At the Nakba Day rally that took place in Detroit, Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, called for attacks against Israel using “stones,” “guns,” “planes,” “drones,” and “rockets.” The Detroit Free Press made no reference to this incendiary call for violence in its coverage of the event.
And aside from a few blogs and this website, no mainstream media outlet has written about Ellison’s appearance at the ICNA-MAS conference in Baltimore over Memorial Day Weekend which was also attended by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
Clearly, their presence at this convention was newsworthy.
For example, it featured Siraj Wahhaj, an imam from New York City who, in addition to calling on his fellow Muslims to support jihad throughout the world, has affirmed Islamic teachings regarding violence against homosexuals. At the convention itself, ICNA president Mohsin Ansari declared that “When people come and tell us to justify LGBT issues, when people come and tell us to justify immoral actions, ICNA is your organization, which tells you ‘no to immorality, no to injustice, no to those perverted attitudes that the world has accepted.’”
This is akin to the rhetoric used by the Westboro Baptist Church that has drawn so much attention over the years, but it’s coming from a prominent Muslim organization. Why is it being ignored?
Clearly, a double-standard is in force. If the Islamization of the public square in the United States is to be halted, journalists must start doing their jobs.