- - Thursday, November 2, 2017


Confederate soldiers shrieked the rebel yell at Gettysburg, American paratroopers cried “Geronimo!” when they jumped into France on D-Day, and radical Muslim terrorists cry “Allahu akbar” when they kill innocents on the streets of America. Whether meant to calm nerves or strike fear in the hearts of opponents, the cries become a signature, sometimes a cry of bravery and heroism, but sometimes a cry of cowardly revenge.

Mohammed Atta, one of the villains of the 9/11 attack, left instructions in his journal for those who would follow him in wickedness to “Shout ‘Allahu akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.”

The cry doesn’t strike fear so much a quick and convenient identification of the perpetrator and his aims when there’s massacre on the street, or at an airport, or a nightclub. “Allahu akbar!” cried Amor Ftouhi when he stabbed a policeman in Flint, Mich., and repeated it several times on his day in court. A black separatist cried “Allahu akbar!” when he killed three innocents in Fresno, Calif., and a black Muslim separatist cried it when he stabbed 10 shoppers at a shopping mall in Minnesota. And the man who drove a truck on to a bicycle path in Manhattan, killing 8 and wounding 11, cried “Allahu akbar” when he emerged from his truck.

For good and peaceful Muslims, this perception that the cry is a signature of radical Islamic terror strikes a pain in a devout heart. “That’s why it hurts that on Tuesday, ‘Allahu akbar,’ those two simple words so close to our heart, instantly shaped the entire news coverage and presidential response,” writes Wajahat Ali, a lawyer and playwright, in The New York Times. “A common, benign phrase used daily by Muslims, especially during prayer, is now understood as code for “It was terrorism.”

“God is good, God is great,” the translation from the Arabic, is similar to the war cry Pope Urban II urged on the Catholic Crusaders in 1095 when he sent them to wrest the Holy Land from Muslim control. When the pope finished his pep talk many in the crowd yelled “Deus hoc vult!” — “God wills it.”

War cries can be shouts of faith, but sometimes they can be blasphemy, too. Promises of pain and death in the name of God surely strikes pain in the divine heart.

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