Column: It’s Bigoted to Locate America’s ‘Jihad Capital’?

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The Wall Street Journal opinion section drew a pile of angry tweets when it ran an article by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Media East Media Research Institute. They fixated on the headline, and didn’t seem to read the article below.

The headline was “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital: Imams and politicians in the Michigan city side with Hamas against Israel and Iran against the U.S.” The subhead here merely described the article’s contents, that the city’s Muslim leaders and political leaders sided against Israel and America.

The angry response has to be the words “jihad capital.” Somehow, you can’t equate Hamas and jihad? You can’t equate the slaughter on October 7 with jihad?

On October 10, Imam Imran Salha of Dearborn’s Islamic Center of Detroit told a rally that Israel’s past actions have put “fire in our hearts that will burn that state”—Israel— “until its demise.”

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On October 14, Imam Usama Abdulghani called October 7 “one of the days of God” and a “miracle come true.” He described the attackers as “honorable.” He said they were “lions” defending “the entire nation of Muhammad the messenger.”

The Islamic Center of America, a leading Dearborn mosque, held a memorial service on December 30 for a Hezbollah operative killed in an Israeli airstrike, where Imam Abdulghani expressed his “warmest congratulations” to “our very special leader, Imam Khamenei,” the leader of Iran, the backer of Hamas and Hezbollah. 

But don’t call Dearborn a “jihad capital.”

No one has challenged these facts. But ex-MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeted “The same rightwing outlets who warn of rising antisemitism (and, yes, antisemitism is on the rise) have no problem pushing horrendous Islamophobia & anti-Arab bigotry.”

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, the taxpayer-funded Murdoch basher, retweeted Joseph Azam, an executive at News Corp. for two whole years. Azam ranted: “Years ago, after I left News Corp and spoke to @NPR @davidfolkenflik re: the racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia running rampant across Murdoch assets I described the @WSJ opinion pages as the ignorant hatemongering you see in the @nypost but dressed in a tuxedo. I stand by that.”

You won’t be surprised that Azam donated $250 to Kamala Harris while he worked for Murdoch, and has since donated thousands to Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee, and Aisha Wahab, a California Democrat state senator hailed as the local Ocasio-Cortez.

President Biden tweeted indirectly: “Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong. That’s exactly what can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate, and it shouldn’t happen to the residents of Dearborn – or any American town. We must continue to condemn hate in all forms.”

This, from the guy who called the Republicans “Jim Crow 2.0.”

In the February 6 press briefing, ABC’s Selina Wang tossed a wiffle ball to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “What’s the White House’s reaction to that controversial Wall Street Journal op-ed?” Jean-Pierre called the article “dangerous” and “unacceptable” and “we will stand with the people of Dearborn on this issue.”

The comedy in that is that many Muslims in Dearborn call the president “Genocide Joe,” but ABC won’t ask about that. The mayor of Dearborn and the imams of Dearborn are supported by the people of Dearborn. The term “jihad capital” doesn’t imply that every resident of Dearborn is a jihadi. It implies it’s a hot spot for jihadism.

Abdullah Hammoud, the Democrat mayor of Dearborn, attended a November 29 pro-Hamas rally and proclaimed Dearborn “the city of resistance.” So isn’t that blurring all the city’s people into one geopolitical or religious camp? 

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