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Live Blog: Anti-Muslim Backlash Against Brussels Killings Begins
Posted on Mar 22, 2016
6:01 p.m. PST: According to The Associated Press, Islamic State has released a statement warning that Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels would be followed by more violence in other parts of the world:
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2:45 p.m. PST: The following update comes to us from Truthdig columnist, author and political expert Bill Boyarsky:
The terrorist attack on Brussels, with its heavy toll of dead and wounded, will increase demands from Republicans and Democrats for surveillance and infiltration of American and foreign Muslim groups—and push non-Muslim America toward greater acceptance of police-state methods against believers of Islam, including surveillance of their mosques and daily life and more restrictions on travel.
It will also help make the presidential campaign a referendum on religious rights. That’s what Islamic State wanted to achieve with its latest attack and those in Paris and perhaps San Bernardino—to create fear and discord in Europe and in a United States already stressed by the divisive presidential campaign.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump was the first to jump on the issue, hitting the phone with calls to the morning television shows, saying that his tough-on-immigrants stand is responsible for his success in the polls and primaries. Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz demanded immigration restrictions and new powers for “law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
Mosque by mosque, house by house, store by store the Cruz-empowered police would search and round up anyone striking them as suspicious. Law offices would be scoured by cops. Muslims and their non-Muslim supporters would be subjected to heavy questioning.
President Obama said, “We must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith” in fighting terrorism. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were on the same wavelength as the president. But they may find it difficult to be heard, with Trump and Cruz stirring up fears and appealing to a sizable streak of American intolerance.
In this atmosphere, it will take a brave person—politician or average citizen—to stand up for the rights of the besieged Muslim community.
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2:35 p.m. PST: And now for Blame Obama: Rudy Giuliani edition. Making use of a tense and tragic moment, the former New York City mayor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate piled on the president on Fox News (via Media Matters for America):
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2:31 p.m. PST: On the Democratic side of the aisle, Vermont Sen. Sanders had this to say earlier on Tuesday about the attacks in the European Union capital (via The New York Times):
Here’s Sanders’ rival, former Secretary of State Clinton, on Tuesday’s events (via Slate):
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2:00 p.m. PST: More from the AP, this time on “three Kosovars”—people from the disputed Balkans territory of Kosovar—arrested by police in southern Germany: “According to the report, they were in a Belgian-registered car. However, the criminal police office said that there are no indications at this point of any link with Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels.”
On this side of the Atlantic, The Hill posted a follow-up to Cruz’s inflammatory comment, made earlier Tuesday, about domestic surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods:
—Posted by Kasia Anderson
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1:24 p.m. PST: Currently trending on Twitter is #StopIslam, with almost 200,000 tweets using the hashtag.
Launched by those who blame the religion for Tuesday morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, the hashtag was immediately picked up by Twitter users criticizing those who began the trend.
As of this posting, most of the top tweets including #StopIslam pointed out the narrow-mindedness of blaming Muslims for atrocities committed by Islamic State.
Many users are calling on Twitter to stop the incendiary hashtag from spreading.
Although the hashtag is now backfiring as users call out its inherent Islamophobia, the fact that it surfaced so quickly after news of the Brussels attacks broke is a reminder of how Islamic State attempts to divide people through acts of terror.
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12:21 p.m. PST: Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw remarked that it’s “too early to establish a link with the Paris attacks” and those that occurred Tuesday in his own country, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell commented on Islamic State’s growing ranks and strength on Tuesday’s edition of “CBS This Morning” (via RT):
Following the Brussels attacks, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an international coalition founded in 1969 and comprising 57 member states, issued this press release:
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10:50 a.m. PST: Federal police in Belgium released a photo of a suspect in the bombing, along with a question: “Who recognizes this man?”
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10:18 a.m. PST: Republican presidential front-runner Trump jumped on the news from Brussels, spotting an opening to once again call for aggressive—even unconstitutional—measures to target terrorism at home and abroad.
As The New York Times reported, Trump turned the focus back to domestic terrorism, stating, “This is going to happen in the United States.”
Politico made note of Trump’s comments on Tuesday morning’s news circuit:
On the “Today” show, Trump repeated prior declarations he had made about changing laws and said that under his leadership, “the waterboarding” would be included in the U.S. repertoire of anti-terrorist tactics:
Trump’s GOP rival, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, took a different tack. His spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, told Politico: “Governor Kasich believes that leadership isn’t about playing on people’s fears and driving panic. ... It is about responding calmly, bringing people together and talking about the way forward.”
Meanwhile, Cruz fell back on another GOP refrain: the trusty blame-Obama trope, calling for the president to cut short his historic Cuban visit (via ABC News):
—Posted by Kasia Anderson
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9:15 a.m. PST: According to The Associated Press, Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, “saying its extremists opened fire in the airport and ‘several of them’ detonated suicide belts.” The extremist group declared that the attacks were a coordinated response to the Belgian government’s “support of the international coalition arrayed against it.”
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Explosions on Tuesday at the Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels—only four days after the only survivor involved in the Paris attacks was apprehended there—have raised suspicions that the attacks were a coordinated reprisal.
From The Guardian:
Read more about the breaking story as it develops here.
— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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