Video taken at the gruesome scene outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt, clearly shows local rubberneckers whooping it up as they shout "Allah Akbar!" — Arabic for "Allah is greatest!" We heard the same celebratory chant from Palestinians and other Muslims around the world as the Twin Towers burned.
The list of Islamic terrorists heard shouting the phrase before launching attacks is long. The 9/11 hijackers themselves screamed "Allah Akbar!" before crashing their planes. More recently, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was heard crying "Allah Akbar!" before massacring 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.
Never mind all that, say apologists intent on separating Islam from terror. The expression is benign, they insist.
"The guy who gets up on the plane and says 'Allah!' or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith," American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee head James Zogby said last year, speaking to congressional staffers.
Zogby says it's more an expression of frustration, like Christians blurting out their Savior's name after accidently hammering their thumb. "Somebody says 'Jesus Christ!' they're not making a statement of faith," he explained. "They're saying, I'm really mad right now."
The comparison is absurd.
Muslims say "Allah is greatest" to exalt their God. When Christians mutter "Jesus Christ," they in contrast are taking their Lord's name in vain. There's no corresponding "Jesus Christ is greatest!"
Zogby wins the prize for post-9/11 fig-leafing. He made his remarks in August as a panelist at a little-known Hill forum on the "image of Muslims in America," sponsored by the Congressional Muslim Staff Association, or CMSA. A transcript of the event shows attendees clearly upset over polls showing growing numbers of Americans holding negative views about Islam.
Other panelists included Salam al-Marayati, who was kicked off an anti-terror panel in 1999 by then-House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt for his inflammatory rhetoric. He now watches what he says.
He and other "moderate" Muslim panelists said Americans have it all wrong, that they've been fed "misinformation." They maintained that Islam is "tolerant," that "democracy is at the heart of Islam," and that women who wear the Islamic headscarf are "liberated." They also claimed that the Ground Zero mosque is "actually intended to develop interfaith understanding."
Who's misinforming whom?
The moderator noted at the end of the program that CMSA is run by "Mr. J. Saleh Williams." Turns out the "J" stands for Jihad. Williams is a convert to Islam, and that's the name he chose. Of all the Arabic names, that's the one he picked.
Recent reports reveal that these Muslim staffers over the years have invited a parade of radical Muslims to speak on the Hill, including terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. Now a fugitive al-Qaida leader, he led prayers and spoke after 9/11 — and after privately counseling some of the "Allah Akbar!"-shouting hijackers.
Such disinformation lulls Americans into a false sense of security about the threat from Islamism. That it is allowed to emanate from Congress is an outrage.