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I didn’t realize how often Muslims get kicked off planes, until it happened to me Niala Mohammad, The Guardian

I didn’t realize how often Muslims get kicked off planes until it happened to me

A humiliating experience opened my eyes to discrimination that has become common in post-9/11 America under the pretext of safety and security

 
 
My friend and I were removed from an American Airlines flight for requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane.
My friend and I were removed from an American Airlines flight for requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane. Photograph: Courtesy of Niala Mohammad

A recent news report documented the removal of two Muslim women working for the federal government from an American Airline flight. On its surface, the airline staff appeared to be upholding safety regulations, but in reality, they were engaging in discriminatory practices. I know this to be true because I was one of the two women. We were removed from the plane for doing nothing more than requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane for more than five hours.

Although the incident was humiliating it was also eye-opening. Until it happened to me, neither my friend nor I had realised how common this trend had become. Passengers are removed from an aircraft for benign reasons such as asking for a beverage, a child harness, speaking a foreign language, changing or upgrading seats, taking pictures, making videos, or questioning a long delay. It isn’t just about what happened to me – increasingly Muslims are a part of a cycle of discrimination that targets them due to their appearance.

American Airlines states that they prohibit “discrimination of any kind” and ensure that their “policies require that we treat all our customers in a fair and courteous manner and discrimination due to race, ethnicity, religion, or skin colour is not tolerated”. However, this was not reflected in the treatment that I and other passengers received.

Shan Anand, a young, turbaned, Sikh man along with three of his Muslim friends were removed from an American Airlines flight travelling from Toronto to New York earlier this year. When I asked Shan why he thought he and his friends were removed from the flight he said: “We know why it happened, right? There were four of us, three are Muslim and I am Sikh.” When Shan and his friends asked American Airlines why they were removed, they were told: “There were inconsistencies of their behaviour travelling as a group.” But the explanation made no sense to Shan – he was travelling in a group of six with two Latinos, three South Asians and one Arab, yet only the South Asians and Arab were removed. Shan and his travel companions were told that “the crew felt unsafe”.

“Unsafe”: a trigger word commonly used as an excuse by airlines under the pretext of ensuring safety and security post-9/11. Nearly all Muslims have at some point been subject to secondary security screening selection, but being thrown off a plane was an entirely new level of humiliation for me.

Measuring discrimination

Khurram Ali, the former civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR’s) New Jersey chapter, explains that the pilot of an aircraft is given a list of those passengers that are marked with the infamous SSSS on their boarding pass. The SSSS or *S* indicates someone needs to be scrutinised a bit further by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). And although it is unknown if airline attendants have access to the names labelled SSSS by TSA on domestic flights, they do have access to their respective airline computer reservation system, which details passenger name and detailed information.

Although there is no published criteria used to select passengers for “random selection” or “suspicion”, Ali says: “It is happening to more and more people who are considered visibly Muslim.” Ali documented 27 airline discrimination complaint cases with three of those being “pulled off” or airline removal cases for CAIR’s New Jersey chapter during his short tenure. But as he pointed out, those numbers come nowhere near the amount being documented by CAIR on a national level.

CAIR has been fairly thorough in its documentation of discrimination against American Muslims, however, it is still in the process of aggregating data regarding Muslim airline passengers being “pulled off” planes. Corey Saylor, CAIR’s director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, acknowledged that they “are seeing more airline cases”. But in regards to statistics, Saylor stated: “We do not have stats as of yet. We are working on it.”

The only cases the public is aware of are those documented in the media. I counted nine airline passenger removal cases involving American Muslims published in the media over the past 13 months. But if that isn’t indicative enough, just look at trending hashtags on social media like #FlyingWhileMuslim to understand and confirm the reality of rising discrimination.

The official reasons for removal of these passengers are all in relation to safety and security concerns. But there is no mistaking this trend toward discrimination of Muslims.. Here are a few examples:

  • Mohamed Ahmed Radwan made the flight attendant feel “uncomfortable” when he asked her why she called him out over the public tannoy with the words I will be watching you”. (American Airlines, December 2015)
  • Shan Anand (quoted above), a turbaned Sikh man, and three of his Muslim friends were removed for making the airline attendant and captain “feel uneasy” after they upgraded their seats. (American Airlines, December 2015)
  • Khairuldeen Makhzoom, a Berkley student, was removed after he was heard saying the phrase “inshallah” in Arabic at the end of a telephone conversation. (Southwest Airlines, December 2015)
  • Hakima Abdulle, a hijabi woman, made her aircraft flight attendant “feel uncomfortable” after switching seats with another passenger. (Southwest Airlines, April 2016)
  • Mohamad and Eaman Shebley (also hijabi) along with their three children were removed from their flight due to a “safety of flight issue” after asking for a child harness for their toddler. (United Airlines, April 2016)
  • Nazia (hijabi) and Faisal Ali, a young couple, were removed for making the flight crew feel “uneasy” because her husband was sweating, saying Allah and texting. (Delta Airlines, July 2016)

Many instances have gone undocumented due to fear of victims being further targeted, labelled troublemakers and being put on a “no-fly” list. The silent acceptance of these incidents has enabled airlines to dismiss the arbitrary treatment of select passengers as compliance with airline security regulations post-9/11. This policy is not effective and ultimately makes Americans feel marginalised in our own country.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, or Mark for those that have trouble pronouncing his name, recalls his experience with Southwest Airlines as “tearful and humiliating”. Makhzoomi came to America after his father was executed in Iraq by Saddam Hussain: “I experienced dictatorship in Iraq and now I am experiencing it in the freest country in the world.”

The discrimination Khairuldeen faced in Oakland, California, was anything but subtle. Khairuldeen detailed how he was removed from the aircraft, questioned by airline representatives and security, cornered against a wall, searched, sniffed by dogs in public and later interrogated privately by the FBI. Southwest Airlines representative and the authorities that removed him from the plane berated him for having spoken Arabic aboard the aircraft. Khairuldeen recalled the Southwest Airlines representative, stating: “Why would you speak that language knowing the environment in an airport?”

Khairuldeen said: “I was excited because we were talking about my upcoming graduation from UC Berkley, saying ‘inshallah’. You know, we use this word 30 to 40 times in any given conversation.” The rest of Khairuldeen’s conversation revolved around what they served for dinner at an event he attended which hosted the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. “I was telling my uncle that they served us chicken, mash potatoes and spinach for dinner at the event,” said Makhzoomi. Yet the authorities that escorted him and claimed to understand Arabic, accused him of “discussing martyrdom” in his telephone conversation.

An atmosphere of fear

Cenk Uygur, political commentator and co-founder of the Young Turks, believes that this issue goes beyond discrimination towards Muslims in particular. Uygur was also kicked off of an American Airlines flight but he doesn’t believe it was because of religion. “Was it religious? In my case, I don’t think it was racially motivated.” Uygur believes that the root of the matter boils down to power and compared airline attendant behaviour toward Muslims since 9/11 to police officers abusing their authority and using excessive force on African Americans. “After 9/11 airlines/flight attendants have taken up the ‘I can do whatever I want attitude’ in the name of security,” Uygur says. “In my opinion, the core of the problem is flight attendants are given unlimited power and they tend to abuse it. They tend to use their power on those they perceive to be powerless. And unfortunately, in America, the darker the skin colour the more powerless you are. And many Muslims tend to fit in that category.”

He adds: “By the way, it’s much harder on women because they are more visibly Muslim and they often bear the brunt of the burden of Islamophobia or discrimination.

“Donald Trump has given people permission to be Islamophobic and told them that it’s okay to discriminate against Muslims. Trump basically says, ‘If I become president I will systematically discriminate against them [Muslims],’” Uygur says.

Likewise, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi attributed the recent rise in discrimination towards Muslims to Donald Trump, saying, “Trump is using ‘Islamophobia’ to rise to political power.”

Trump’s statements have fostered and further instigated an atmosphere of fear and prejudice towards the estimated 6-7 million Muslims in America.

I’m an American and being labelled a safety threat is unacceptable in a country founded on tolerance and freedom.

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Your fatwa does not apply here | Karima Bennoune | TEDxExeter

Your fatwa does not apply here | Karima Bennoune | TEDxExeter

Published on May 5, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. One day, Karima Bennoune found herself wondering whether she could protect her father with a paring knife. She tells the stories of individual Muslims struggling against fundamentalism and terrorism.

Karima Bennoune is a professor of international law at the University of California–Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States and now lives in northern California.

She has published widely in many leading academic journals, as well as in the Guardian, The New York Times, Comment is Free, the website of Al Jazeera English, The Nation. The topic of her most recent publication ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’ is a very personal one for her. Her father Mahfoud Bennoune was an outspoken professor at the University of Algiers, and faced death threats during the 1990s, but continued speaking out against fundamentalism and terrorism. In writing this book, Karima set out to meet people who are today doing what her father did back then, to try to garner for them greater international support than Algerian democrats received during the 1990s.

She has served as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law and on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA. Currently, she sits on the Board of the Network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws. She has also been a consultant on human rights issues for the International Council on Human Rights Policy, the Soros Foundation, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, and for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Her human rights field missions have included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Korea, southern Thailand, and Tunisia.

She traveled to Algeria in February 2011 to serve as an observer at pro-democracy protests with the support of the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, writing a series of articles about these events for the Guardian. In October 2011, she volunteered as an election observer during the Tunisian constituent assembly elections with Gender Concerns International.

At TEDxExeter 2014 our speakers and performers connected us with other worlds. Our talks exposed corruption in big business, shared effective approaches to tackling social inequality and gave a voice to those whose human rights are under threat. We explored the impact of fast changing technologies on all our lives. We journeyed through fire and forest to frozen landscapes. We were challenged to consider worlds of extremes, cutting edge controversies and risky opportunities.
Video Production Chromatrope (http://chromatrope.co.uk/)
Production Manager Andy Robertson (http://www.youtube.com/familygamertv)

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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Muslim Americans Widely Seen As Victims Of Discrimination By Matt Sledge in Huffington Post USA,

ASSOCIATED PRESS
 

Muslim Americans are widely seen as victims of discrimination, but also viewed by a slim majority as members of a religion that encourages violence, according to an Economist/YouGov poll released Friday. Americans who know a Muslim, meanwhile, are more likely to view adherents of the religion favorably.

Those results come in the midst of a spate of either suspected or confirmed anti-Muslim hate crimes. The shooting of three Muslims in Chapel Hill on Feb. 10 by a killer with murky motives crystallized the moment of fear.

A full 73 percent of Americans believe Muslims face a great deal or a fair amount of discrimination. That total outstrips both African-Americans, whom 63 percent of Americans see as victims of bias, and Mexican-Americans, who are viewed as targets of discrimination by 60 percent.

The general feeling that discrimination exists is further underlined by questions about the motives of alleged Chapel Hill shooter Craig Stephen Hicks. Police initially said the killings appeared to have stemmed from a parking dispute, but also added that they were looking into whether religion was a factor. Authorities have not charged Hicks with a hate crime. However, 45 percent of Americans said Hicks should be charged with a hate crime, compared with 18 percent who believe he should not.

Those supportive-sounding numbers are offset by Americans’ other views on Muslims. Many Americans seem to have adopted the views of Bill Maher and Mike Huckabee.

A majority — 52 percent — of Americans said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. Suspicion of Islam was much higher among Republicans (74 percent) than Democrats (41 percent).

“There’s just a lack of access to Muslims, and because of this lack of real-world contact, a number of conservative media sources have biased opinions,” said Robert McCaw, government affairs manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Theologically Islam is no more violent or less violent than Christianity or any other monotheistic religion,” he said. “I think one stereotype is true: that Muslims are being highly discriminated against. So that’s an experience which people have experienced firsthand.”

Knowing a Muslim does seem to alter a person’s impression of members of the religion. A majority (53 percent) of Americans who personally know a Muslim disagree with the idea that the religion is more likely to encourage violence. Americans who know Muslims are also significantly more likely to view them as patriotic.

The Economist/YouGov online poll surveyed 1,000 respondents from Feb. 14 to 16 with a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Courtesy: URL: Huffington Post

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Chapel Hill Shooting

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6 Rules Of Islamophobia In America by www.huffingtonpost.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Rules Of Islamophobia In America

The Huffington Post tracked Islamophobia in the U.S. throughout 2016.

Here’s what we learned.

After the 2015 terror attack in Paris, when Donald Trump and other GOP presidential candidates were ratcheting up their anti-Muslim political speech, we started a running list of Islamophobic acts. Sadly, in less than two months, the list became so long the webpage often wouldn’t load.
This made us recognize the very real surge in anti-Muslim incidents sweeping the nation — a surge many wanted to deny was happening at all. (Think Fox News host Eric Bolling saying he “hadn’t heard of any” anti-Muslim hate crimes.)
So we developed The Islamophobia Project, and committed to tracking anti-Muslim violence, vandalism, discrimination, public policy and political speechjam throughout 2016.

CAIR-St Louis
America, 2016. A man with a gun screams at a Muslim family near St. Louis. “You Muslim?” he allegedly said. “All of you should die.”
The timing of the incidents we collected helped reveal patterns. We discovered that Trump supporters attacked, harassed, or plotted to kill Muslims at least 13 times during the election cycle, proving a potential link between Trump’s rhetoric and the actions of supporters. We documented apparent surges in anti-Muslim incidents during Muslim holidays.
It’s now been a year, and our project is a sad and seemingly endless scroll through nearly 400 stories of Muslims in America being attacked, threatened, scapegoated, and profiled, seeing their places of worship vandalized and their faith denigrated.
An email address we set up as a source for tips — islamophobia@huffingtonpost. com — generated hundreds of responses. Many people expressed gratitude for the project. One email led to a story about a Muslim Army veteran who found the word “terrorist” written on his locker. Mostly, we received anti-Muslim hate mail.
Our reporters and editors were attacked on anti-Muslim hate group sites and trolled relentlessly on Twitter ― signs that the project was making waves.
And, if you scroll through the tracker to March 10, 2016, you’ll read about the then-frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary saying: “I think Islam hates us.”
So much cynicism and misinformation was packed into those five words. That Trump could say them and go on to get elected president of the United States underscores just how successfully Muslims have been designated the “other” in this country.
When a group is an “other,” it’s easier to attack them, or to strip them of their civil rights. Our tracker documented this time and again.
But in another sense, Islamophobia isn’t something that can ever be tracked comprehensively. There’s too much of it, and not every instance becomes a headline.
It’s ubiquitous in the daily lives of Muslim Americans. It’s when a Muslim mom tells her daughter to maybe not wear the hijab today. It’s a Muslim father having to explain to his children that no, they’re citizens, they can’t be deported. It’s how almost every Muslim in a movie is depicted as a terrorist, and it’s why cable news channels only ask Muslims if they condemn terrorism.
With the rise of Trump, the silver lining is that now, more people seem to be paying attention to anti-Muslim hate. Media organizations are covering the subject more robustly. The nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica has launched its own project, called “Documenting Hate,” and The New York Times has started a weekly column on the subject called, “This Week in Hate.”
This year, we won’t be updating the Islamophobia Tracker. The story is so much bigger than a dataset now. But we will continue telling stories of hate and extremism. And we will pay close attention to the new presidential administration that seems hell-bent on vilifying Muslims and persecuting them.
Having tracked hate for a year, we’re able to see that people who disparaged Muslim Americans are mostly reading from the same old script. It’s possible even to look at our project as a kind of how-to guide for anti-Muslim bigotry ― a list of six “rules” of Islamophobia in America.
And if we’re going to help protect our Muslim neighbors, coworkers, friends and family, these are six “rules” that desperately need to be dismantled and destroyed.

Rule 1: Muslims are not American.

Mark Wilson via Getty Images
“Go back to your country,” a man screamed at worshipers leaving a Connecticut mosque. “C**t, you don’t belong in this country. Go back to your f****** country,” another man shouted at a Muslim woman and her family in Ohio.
“Get the hell out of the country you bitch-ass Muslims,” a woman screamed at a Muslim mother and daughter in Maryland. “You’re not even from here, motherf*****! F*** you and your family, you terrorist!” a man yelled at a Moroccan Uber driver in Queens, New York.
“Get out of America, bitches,” a woman in Brooklyn, New York, screamed at two Muslim women pushing their babies in strollers. “This is America — you shouldn’t be different from us.”
And when pundits and politicians decried San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem, they were quick to baselessly blame this alleged act of unAmerican-ness on the influence of Kaepernick’s Muslim girlfriend.
Muslims just can’t be from here, the thinking goes ― even though Muslims fight in our military and die in our wars, and even though a United States without Muslims has never existed.

Rule 2: All Muslims are terrorists.

A hate-filled voicemail left at the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“You’re a terrorist,” a woman yelled at a Muslim woman inside a New Mexico grocery store.
“We don’t want niggers and terrorists here. #Trump,” read a note taped to the door of a Muslim family’s home in Iowa.
Mohamed Abbas, a 32-year-old Iraq War veteran and American citizen with PTSD who happens to be Muslim, found “terrorist” written on his locker inside a California Marine Corps base.
“When you say the word ‘Islam’ to Mike Goodman, it means ‘terrorist,’” Goodman, a member of a Massachusetts town commission, said of himself. “When you say ‘Muslim,’ it means a person. Islam is nothing but full of terrorists.”
That’s just not true, Mike.

Rule 3: Pork is to Muslims as a crucifix or garlic is to vampires.

A Texas anti-Muslim militia group dips bullets in pig’s blood. Why? To send Muslims “straight to hell.”
In Florida, a man allegedly trashed a mosque with a machete before leaving bacon on the front doorstep. At mosques in Nebraska and Las Vegas, men wrapped bacon around mosque door handles. In Raeford, North Carolina, a man carrying a handgun left packages of bacon at the mosque and threatened to kill worshippers.
In Philadelphia, someone left a severed pig’s head outside a mosque. And outside a mosque in Lawton, Oklahoma, someone dumped a whole pig carcass.
And then there’s Trump, who in 2016 was fond of telling an apocryphal story of how a U.S. general killed Muslim insurgents with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.
Like Judaism, Islam generally prohibits its followers from eating pork. While these pork-based acts of hate are undoubtedly meant as insults, the perpetrators also seem to ascribe mythical or inhuman qualities to Muslims, as if pork could magically fend them off, or send them straight to hell. As one anti-Muslim activist told comedian Samantha Bee on her show this year: “A pig head to Muslims is like a crucifix to a vampire.”
Muslims, of course, don’t believe this. Most don’t eat pork ― and that’s about the extent of it. As one Muslim HuffPost employee put it recently after reading about the pig carcass in Oklahoma: “I swear I need to spread a rumor that Muslims don’t eat cupcakes.”

Rule 4: All brown people are potentially Muslim, and are therefore potentially terrorists.

Courtesy of the Jabara family
Khalid Jabara, an Arab-American Christian, was fatally shot by a neighbor who often called the Jabaras “dirty Arabs,” “Aye-rabs” and “Mooslems.”
Simran Jeet Singh was running in the New York City Marathon when he said someone called him a “dirty Muslim.” Harmann Singh said a man called him a “f****** Muslim” inside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, store. “You’re trying to blow up this country, I should (expletive) kill you right now, you know,” Balmeet Singh said a man told him outside a California burger restaurant.
All three Singhs, who are not related, wear turbans and are Sikh, not Muslim. Sikhs are commonly perceived as Muslims in the U.S., and are targeted in anti-Muslim hate crimes, even though Sikhism and Islam are completely different religions ― not that it should matter.
In Oklahoma in August, a 61-year-old ex-convict named Stanley Majors allegedly shot and killed a 37-year-old man named Khalid Jabara outside his home. Majors reportedly had harassed the Jabara family for years. He called the Jabaras “dirty Arabs,” “Aye-rabs” and “Mooslems.” The Jabaras are Christian immigrants from Lebanon.
This phenomenon is sometimes called the “racialization of Islam,” and it helps explain why nearly 30 percent of Americans, including possibly Trump, still think the country’s first black president is secretly a Muslim.

Rule 5: Islam is not a religion, it’s a violent ideology.

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, saying that Islam isn’t a religion.
Islam “is an ideology posing as a religion. Islam is intolerant and deceitful, and its adherents are ordered to overthrow our way of life and to replace it with ‘Sharia’ law,” Republican New Hampshire state Rep. Ken Weyler wrote in testimony submitted to the state House.
In Pennsylvania, a school board member said that Islam is “not a religion” and is “not only godless, but pagan.” In Virginia, a member of the Republican State Central Committee tweeted that Islam is a “death cult organized by Satan” and “is not a religion of peace but an ideolgy (sic).”
And in Utah, the state’s third-largest political party called for outlawing Islam altogether, arguing that because it’s not a religion, it’s not protected under the First Amendment.
Merriam-Webster defines Islam as “the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.” It is practiced by 1.6 billion people and is the world’s second-largest religion, after Christianity. It is no more inherently violent or peaceful than any other religion.
Rule 6: There’s a secret Muslim plot to take over and/or destroy the United States and/or Western civilization from within.

Richard Ellis/Getty Images
Frank Gaffney, an advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, has long pushed the “civilization jihad” conspiracy theory. In a press release for a bill that could destroy American Muslim groups, Cruz cited “civilization jihad.”
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson warned of a “civilizational jihad” against the U.S., wherein “jihadists” who “disguise themselves as moderate Muslims” would “infiltrate, multiply and take positions of power” in order to “replace our Judeo-Christian values with Islam.”
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann described the influx of Muslim migrants and refugees into Europe and the U.S. as a “planned invasion” meant to destroy “western Christendom.” It’s part of a “civilization jihad,” the tea party Minnesota congresswoman explained, aimed at “Islamizing” the West.
The news site The Hill published an article by Frank Gaffney, an adviser to presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in which Gaffney wrote that Muslims in the U.S. have a “civilization jihad” aimed at “destroying Western civilization.” This Muslim conspiracy, he explained, uses “stealthy, subversive means like influence operations to penetrate and subvert our government and civil society institutions.”
The idea of a “civilization jihad” is a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory. But it’s also a popular one that has contributed to this country’s dim view of Muslims. A recent survey revealed that Americans think there are 54 million Muslims in America. There are only about 3 million.
“If you’re promoting anti-Muslim bigotry and your theory is that a small percentage of the population is going to take over, it doesn’t work very well,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told HuffPost recently. “You have to create the impression that there’s a flood of Muslims taking over America.”

 

Reference
Preview YouTube video Armed and Vigilant: In Fear of a Muslim Uprising in Texas

Armed and Vigilant: In Fear of a Muslim Uprising in Texas

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