Brooksville Man Says “I Hate Muslims” A Sign of Growing Religious Tension
HERNANDO – Webster defines Sharia Law as the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed; “sharia is only applicable to Muslims”; “under Islamic law there is no separation of church and state,” but what does it mean to a kafir (non-Muslim), specifically those who live and work among Muslims in Hernando County?
Sharia Law is not recognized in the United States as part of our justice system but most Muslims do follow rules pertaining to public and private behavior, particularly women.
I’ve had several opportunities to interview Muslims and non-Muslims, especially those who have an incorrigible disdain for the controversial religion.
On the 13th anniversary or September 11th 2001, the provocative Pastor Terry Jones held a Quran burning in Brooksville that attracted media attention and a heavy presence of law enforcement. During a speech, Jones said “Saudi Arabia is the home… the blood of Islam.” Mocking Islam by calling it “…the religion of Peace.” He says “I’m amazed that there are not more women standing up… Where in the hell are the women who need to stand up and say something.” Sharia Law is the law of the land in Saudi Arabia, among other Islamic nations. In many cases women cannot drive a car, cannot speak to men, other than their husband, and can be executed for committing adultery.
Last summer we met with a lone protester “Sean” who stood outside the Islamic Center on Barclay Ave holding a sign that said “I’m sick of Islam.” During an interview, Sean explained that he was “Sick of people not taking a stand against Islamic terrorism.” Sean’s protest was in response to the 2015 Tennessee shootings that left four U.S. Marines and one Sailor dead, at the hands of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez.
While working on an unrelated story at the Starbucks on Cortez Blvd, I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt that said “I Hate Muslims.” I asked if he would explain the inflammatory display and he agreed. Turns out, the man was Jim Murphy; the same man who facilitated the 2014 Quran burning on his Brooksville property.
Murphy, a former New York Police Officer who helped pull victims from the rubble after the attack of 9/11 explained, he doesn’t hate all Muslims but he believes the religion is inherently dangerous to modern society. Murphy says “I’m sick of the media and our President not acknowledging the term Islamic Terrorism.” When asked what he thought of the growing Muslim population in Hernando County, Murphy said “I believe Muslims moved to Hernando County because they couldn’t achieve the same success in their native country.”
In recent months I’ve had an opportunity to meet with local Muslims to learn more about their religion and how Islamic Terrorism has affected their lives. Angela Riani, a devout Muslim says, “Muslims denounce this kind of terrorism, especially in America.” I asked what she thought of ISIS and their Islamic beliefs; she said “I do not think ISIS is representative of Islam in any way shape or form. They are an extremist organization – terrorist group and should be treated as such and Muslims should not be targeted as a result of their actions.” I asked Riani if she believed the local Muslim community should be more outspoken in denouncing terrorism, “Absolutely, anytime a Muslim leader has an opportunity to speak out, they should.”
Earlier this year we attempted to speak with leaders of the Islamic Center on Barclay Ave but they declined to comment. They did; however, extend an invitation to tour the facility and listen to presentation intended for women in the community.
The event moderator, Rydanah Atfeh, provided insight into facts and myths behind the religion and answered questions from the audience. The one obvious question on everyone’s mind was why do women wear the Hijab. Most non-Muslims believe it is degrading for a woman to be forced to cover their hair and or face. Afteh explained that although it is required, it is something they enjoy and that it’s no different than some Christians who believe women should have long hair and wear dresses. She also reminded attendees that the covering of women’s hair and face actually started with Christians.
Recently, we spoke with Mayssan Shuayb who said she loves wearing the Hijab and she even enjoys creating her own.
During an interview, I asked Shuayb how the community has treated her in public. Shuayb says she often cries because of the “under the breath comments” made by some people about the way she dresses. Shuayb says it’s become so bad that often times she’ll hide her Hijab with a wig or hat, as she did during a parade in Brooksville last year.
With the proliferation of ISIS across Europe and the controversial plight of Syrians refugees coming to America, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims is sure to deteriorate. So, the question is what can be done to improve those relations in communities across America?