Dr. Walid Phares
NPR Williams Firing a Jihadi Inquisition in Disguise?
October 27, 2010
Is this the beginning of a Jihadi Inquisition in America? NPR has fired longtime
news analyst Juan Williams after he told Fox News Channel that he "gets nervous
when on a plane, he sees individuals who wears Muslim garbs." Juan is a seasoned
commentator and a senior colleague of mine with whom I often chat in the green
room at the Fox News bureau in Washington DC. Aside from his long experience in
journalism he has always demonstrated affection and sympathy to the underdogs
around the world and a particular interest in Middle East and Arab cultures.
I was surprised by the news, not because NPR has acted inconsistently with its
well known "Jihadi-apologist" line, but because it crossed a red line
unthinkable of: Taking a job away from an African American journalist, known for
his balanced views and objective analysis, and furthermore known for his
commitment to civil rights. This is when Jihadi penetration in America shows its
most determined face.
But why would US funded "apologist" media cross a thick red line? What did Juan
say that triggered the wrath of those who cater to Wahabi and Khomeinist
propaganda in this country with taxpayers' money?
Williams appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Monday, and host Bill O'Reilly
asked him what he thought about the idea that America is facing a "Muslim
According to NPR statement, Williams was fired because comments he made on Fox
News "were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices." So what are
these words that US citizens must not utter or else?
The saga began on Monday when commentator Juan Williams stated he agreed with
Bill O'Reilly's statement that "jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations,
is the biggest threat on the planet." But the "indicting" statement made by Juan
was the following, according to NPR authorities.
"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the
civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to
tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are
identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get
In reaction NPR issued a statement announcing that his contract was being
canceled. "His remarks on 'The O'Reilly Factor' this past Monday were
inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his
credibility as a news analyst with NPR," the release said.
Juan Williams worked for 21 years at The Washington Post as an editorial writer,
op-ed columnist and White House reporter. He is also the author of books on
civil rights in America and hosted NPR's flagship news call-in show, "Talk of
This incident is a benchmark. It shows clearly that a systematic repression of
free speech is being organized by forces, deeply rooted inside the
bureaucracies, against voices raising awareness about Jihadism or expressing
concerns or confusion about the latter's symbols. For the statement made by Juan
Williams, per se, "when I get on the plane, if I see people who are in Muslim
garb, and they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get
worried." So where is the indictment here? That an American journalist is
worried when he sees individuals in Muslim garb? First, what is a Muslim garb?
What is the ethnicity of that garb? Instead of organizing a panel on the matter,
NPR fires its own journalist as third world dictatorships do?
Had NPR studied these words it would have realized that symbols, even if
religious, can be politicized. Turkey, a Majority Muslim member of NATO is
debating the legality of religious garbs. Syria, an anti-American regime, is
banning Hijabs on campuses. In the Arab and Muslim world, regular people often
get nervous when they see passengers with Salafi-styled beards and specific
symbols on board. It is not the garb that makes them nervous, it is the
politicization of the culture and styles at the hands of the radicals. That is
inside the Arab and Muslim world, let alone inside the United States where
people, including intellectuals, are confused about the signs of Jihadization.
Juan Williams has the full right to state that he is nervous if he sees any
symbol associated with politicization of so-called religious codes. If many
ordinary Muslims are nervous when they see signs of Jihadism, non-Muslims cannot
be more monarchist than the monarch. NPR should have debated not fired its
But the concern here is that lobby groups, associated with overseas Wahabi
Petrodollars have shown a higher level of control of taxpayer media. CAIR
National Executive Director Nihad Awad asked NPR "to address the fact that one
of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are
perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats." This
sentence frames the debate wrongly. That is not what Juan said or called for,
that is an accusation to trigger an intellectual inquisition against basic
freedom of expression. Because Williams didn't say that all those who are
perceived as Muslims can be legitimately considered as a threat. Mr Awad seems
to intimate that Muslims can only be perceived legitimately as Muslims if they
wear religious garbs. This shows clearly that there are pressures by ideological
forces, the Islamists, to impose religious symbols on members of the Muslim
community and at the same time impose a ban on freedom of expression about these
issues within the national community.
NPR was wrong in firing Williams and must be addressed by the forthcoming
Congress, and hopefully by this or the next Administration. This is an
inquisition, barely in disguise. It must be stopped.