The LA Times reports on a group of Muslim football teams with some provocative names: “Monikers for the flag-football teams include Mujahideen, Intifada and Soldiers of Allah and are accompanied on the league’s Web site, http://muslimfootball.com, by logos of masked men, some with daggers or swords.
“An organizer of the Jan. 4 event, geared for American Muslims in their teens and 20s, said the names are a sign of football bravado and a show of support for Muslims in the Middle East.
“‘A lot of the kids on our team are from Palestinian origin,’ said Tarek Shawky, Intifada’s 29-year-old captain and quarterback. ‘We are in solidarity with people in the uprising. It’s about human rights and basic freedoms.’
“‘I think they should be more sensitive and show respect to other people’s sensitivities,’ said Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County and a national Muslim leader. ‘The words themselves do not have bad meanings, but people associate them with what’s going on in the world around them.’
“But others say Palestinian fighters in the Intifada are terrorists and shouldn’t be glorified. Another provocative name, Mujahideen, means ‘holy warrior,’ and is associated with a variety of Islamic resistance movements, including two on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist groups.
“‘What exactly are they honoring here?’ asked Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. ‘The continued targeting of innocent women and children by homicide bombers deserves to be condemned across the board. It’s deeply, deeply disturbing.’ . . .
But one Islamic scholar said she wonders why the team names should be controversial.
“‘Who cares? Why are people so sensitive?’ said Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, a professor at Georgetown University. ‘Intifada is something that Muslims and Palestinians all approve of. It means “just get off my back.” Is the only way we accept [Muslims] is if we devalue their faith?’
Like Osama bin Laden, these Mujahedin won’t be able to put Crusaders on their schedule, much as they may desire to do so. Teams with that name have long been falling to PC sensibilities: “In 2000, Wheaton College replaced its Crusader label after 70 years, with the more politically correct Thunder. Twenty miles down Interstate 5 from Irvine, where the football tournament will be held, a new Catholic high school in San Juan Capistrano changed its name before it opened last year, from the Crusaders to the Lions, a move applauded by local Muslim leaders.
“Some of those same officials say they oppose the controversial names for the Muslim football teams, but emphasize that they reflect youthful hyperbole more than any dark meaning.” Yet self-proclaimed (and well-armed) mujahedin are much easier to find in the world today than crusaders are.
Also, don’t these names suggest that the radical Muslims who take the same names for more sinister purposes may have more support among the general Muslim population than we are usually led to believe? (Thanks to LGF.)