The anti-Muslim movement recently capitalized on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to showcase their obsessive tendencies to connect any tragedy back to Muslims and Islam.
Now that the aircraft’s whereabouts have been determined, an ongoing investigation continues to understand what led to its fate. Experts say they are not ruling out an intentional diversion of the plane and that they are investigating all possible scenarios. However, this has not deterred the anti-Muslim cohort from taking to their respective platforms to stir up fear that Muslims played a role in the plane’s disappearance.
Once again, these writers, pundits and activists have “spirited away” the human pain and suffering in this tragedy in order to advance a collective anti-Muslim agenda and raise their own individual profiles.
Fox News continues to be a major culprit in this effort and has featured noted anti-Muslim activists — with no notable expertise on plane crash investigations — to comment on the disappearance. The most frequent guest is “national security analyst” Ryan Mauro, who works for Clarion Project, an organization known for its production of Islamophobic films.
As a segue into Mauro’s baseless conjecture, a Fox News host began by saying “there’s no credible evidence that this was terrorism or even a criminal act at this point, but, if it were terrorism …”
Mauro took over from there, speculating that Chinese and Indonesian Muslim terrorist groups were responsible for the plane vanishing. He said he reached this conclusion by talking to his sources in the “intelligence community” who suggested it might be terrorism, but threw in that there is “no proof at this point.” Instead of stopping there, Mauro later released a report saying it has “become extremely likely that the disappearance was the handiwork of one or both of these groups.”
Fox News’ Sean Hannity hosted the notoriously anti-Muslim ACT! for America founder Brigitte Gabriel on his show to speculate about what could have happened.
“We live in a post-9/11 world,” Hannity stated, asking his guests if their thoughts gravitated toward terrorism. “I am unapologetic in saying that’s where my thoughts go to.”
Gabriel played right into his rhetoric, saying the Malaysians and Chinese “believed immediately that it had something to do with terrorism.” She said she was confident the aforementioned groups had played a role. However, the Chinese government has since ruled out that any citizens on board had ties to terrorism and could have been responsible.
Investigators have also begun to look at the two pilots to understand what happened, which has led to a yet another set of conspiracy theories. Anti-Muslim activists and writers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller focused on Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s support of Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of China’s opposition party, to suggest he had hijacked the plane. Spencer took to his blog to connect Ibrahim to the Muslim Brotherhood, and thus claim this explained Shah’s reasoning to steer the plane off course.
Citing William Dobson in Slate, Robert Mackey of the New York Times agreed that “hearing that someone is a ‘fanatical supporter of Anwar Ibrahim does sound scary — as long as you know nothing about’ Mr. Ibrahim, who is not a zealot but a committed democrat.”
Geller focused on a picture of Shah wearing a “Democracy is Dead” T-shirt, a slogan that became popular in response to the disputed Malaysian general election in May 2013. “This tee shirt speaks volumes,” she wrote on her blog, desperately trying to connect the pilot and the Muslim group. The shirt was said to be in protest of the election results and was worn by thousands as a peaceful means of expressing their frustration.
These individuals continue to prove they are more than willing to exploit any tragedy to further their own agenda. And, with high-profile platforms such as Fox News willing to play along, their propaganda and fear-mongering continue to get a wide audience.