The facts of the case are these: Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla and his wife, Amira al-Amriki, were arrested while trying to travel to the Islamic State. Muhammad’s father, Oda Dakhlalla, is the imam of the Islamic Center of Mississippi in Starkville.
Now look at the evidence that the Commercial Dispatch adduces to support its claim that it would be “ignorant” to suspect Oda Dakhlalla and the Islamic Center of Mississippi of having anything to do the “radicalization” of Oda’s son and daughter-in-law. A professor at MSU regularly took students to the Islamic Center of Mississippi, where Oda Dakhlalla was a gracious host and told the students all about how much Islam and Christianity have in common. The imam even “served refreshment”! The only other bit of evidence this editorial adduces is the fact that after 9/11, non-Muslims in Starkville rallied around the Muslim community.
So we have one professor who was charmed by Oda Dakhlalla’s dawah, and the fact that non-Muslims were kind to Muslims in Starkville, and this is supposed to convince us that the imam had nothing to do with his son and daughter-in-law planning to join the Islamic State.
No. As Daniel Greenfield points out, “Muhammad appeared to have a good relationship with his father. He certainly wasn’t rejecting his father for practicing a bad or flawed version of Islam.” Is it really likely that the son forsook the true, peaceful Islam that he learned from his father to embrace the twisted, hijacked Islam of the Islamic State, without ever having it out with dear old dad?
This mosque should be investigated thoroughly.
“Editorial: Terror suspect arrests invite ignorant views,” Commercial Dispatch, August 12, 2015 (thanks to Robert):
In the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s arrest of two former Mississippi State students who the FBI says were trying to leave the U.S. to join the Islamic State in Syria, there have been some who have turned a suspicious eye to the parents of the two young suspects as well as the Islamic Center of Mississippi, located just off the MSU campus, and the large Muslim student population at the university….
Until her retirement two years ago, Joan Mylroie was a geography professor at MSU. For 15 years, she brought her students to the Islamic Center, sometimes two or three times each semester, where Oda Dakhlalla served as a gracious host, serving refreshment to the largely Christian students, explaining the tenets of the Islamic faith, answering questions and explaining the common values shared by the two faiths.
In addition to his role with the Islamic Center, Oda was a math and science tutor and has close ties to Muslim students in particular, working with the university’s Islamic student association. In that capacity, the Islamic Center joined with the Islamic students in dozens of charity events in the community.
That Oda Dakhlalla, the Islamic Center or the Muslim student population at MSU could have played any role in the radicalization of these two students defies reason, says Mylroie, whose long association with all three provides a depth of understanding that cannot be seriously questioned.
Over those years, Mylroie has watched as all three have been voices of calm reason and conciliation.
The retired professor is certainly not the only long-time Starkville resident who can verify this. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Starkville community rallied around its Muslim students and the Islamic Center because they recognized that terrorism in the name of Islam was contrary to all it knew about its Muslim population.
The idea that two young Mississippians could be persuaded to join ranks with a terrorist group is disturbing, certainly, but it should not prompt us to cast an unfair shadow of suspicion on Starkville’s Muslim population which, over a long period of time, has clearly demonstrated it abhors the mindless violence of radicalized religion as much as anyone in our community.