- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

A second Bataclan theater survivor has penned an open letter criticizing Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes for his recent comments against Muslims.

Mr. Hughes’ band headlined the concert where 89 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last year. In an interview earlier this month with Taki’s Magazine, Mr. Hughes accused Muslims of “celebrating in the street” during the attacks that left a total of 130 people dead.

“I saw Muslims celebrating in the street during the attack. I saw it with my own eyes. In real time! How did they know what was going on? There must have been coordination,” Mr. Hughes said.

He also doubled down on claims for which he’s previously apologized, accusing Muslim security guards at the Bataclan of helping coordinate the attacks. His comments sparked intense backlash in France, and two French rock festivals disinvited the California-based band as a result. Now, at least two fellow survivors are speaking out against what they believe is the antithesis of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ismael El Iraki, an avowed Eagles of Death Metal fan, penned an open letter Tuesday to say his “heart is bleeding.”

“You always felt like a maverick, a rebel: we now know that you are not,” Mr. Iraki wrote to Mr. Hughes. “You now proved your stupidity to be [expletive] dangerous.

“I live and breathe rock ‘n’ roll, and I could not look more Muslim if I tried,” he continued. “But apparently, the big bad Muslim conspiracy missed me. Damn, they forgot to warn me. They also forgot to warn [my wife], and all the other Arabs who got shot and killed that very night. They forgot to warn my fellow Moroccan Amin, who was shot that very night.

“You say Islam is the problem. I say: ‘All you [expletive] bigots and your fairytale [expletive] stories are the problem. Racism and refusal to recognize one another as complex (more complex than ethnicity or race can explain) human beings is the problem. Reducing others to what you think you know is the problem,” Mr. Iraki wrote. “Look at yourself: you have become a spreader of hate, brother. Try to be more in life like the persona we all love when you are on stage.”

Tony Scott, another Bataclan survivor, published a column Sunday expressing similar sentiments.

“When one of our own throws accusations and insults in front of the media it tears deep in a community still coming to terms with the events of that night,” Mr. Scott wrote. “[Mr. Hughes’] remarks are racist in nature as he generalizes Muslims for committing the attack. It’s similar language that we hear Donald Trump use in his attacks on the Muslim community. He advocates the use of guns in the hands of civilians to counter terrorism, yet statistics bear out that there are more people killed in the US each year by guns than terrorist attacks.”

“Like Trump, Hughes words are divisive and he’s using the media to garner publicity for his outspoken views,” he argued. “Unlike a politician, his fans have invested time and emotion into a band whose music they buy and gigs they attend. There is a rapport between a band and its fans, some of which are dedicated followers. They already feel like they know him. This rapport is strengthened still as Hughes is a fellow survivor and the compassion extended in the community of survivors is also extended to him. Comments in the media like his are a stomach punch to those fans, especially when they are still dealing with their own trauma. He is alienating the very people who helped him get where he is.”

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