Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Home grown Taliban

You remember how the Taliban started, don't you? They were hyper-religious thugs in Afghanistan, who used ever increasing terror to subdue their own community. Well, it seems as if Oakland California is seeing a radical Islamist sect that is trying to do the same thing to Oakland's Islamic community:

"A bunch of young African American men dressed in black suits, white shirts and bow ties -- consistent with the apparel of members of the Nation of Islam -- vandalized two stores," Jordan said, adding that investigators are taking steps to contact the group's hierarchy. "They told the owners not to sell alcohol in the African American community, and they began to vandalize the property." No one was hurt in either incident, Jordan said. Both liquor stores are in the same general neighborhood as a bakery and other businesses run by successors of the late Black Muslim leader Yusuf Bey, a follower of the Nation of Islam. Three members of the group have been victims of violence since Bey died in 2003, including Bey's 23-year-old-son, Antar, who was shot to death last month in what police believe was an attempted carjacking. *** A surveillance video shows the intruders marching single-file through the front door of San Pablo Liquor, at San Pablo Avenue and 24th Street. An older man wearing a gray fedora talks to the manager -- the owner's teenage son -- over the counter as the others take positions throughout the store. Fists, feet and metal rods fly as the men sweep liquor bottles to the floor, smash display cases and turn over shelves. Jordan said the attacks could constitute a hate crime if the merchants were targeted because of their Middle Eastern background. *** San Pablo Liquor owner Abdul Saleh said $10,000 to $15,000 worth of merchandise was wrecked in the spree, which lasted a little over four minutes. "People thought they were customers," he said. "They said, 'If you're Muslim, why do you sell alcohol to the Arab community?' Then they started smashing the whole store with metal sticks." Saleh was outraged that the vandals acted the part of religious enforcers. "It's between you and God," said Saleh, who was born in Yemen and has raised a family in Oakland since the early 1980s. "If you go to heaven, you go to heaven by yourself. If you go to hell, you go to hell by yourself. You're not speaking for anybody."
The official Nation of Islam has announced that the vandals, caught clearly on video camera, are not members of their group. This claim is almost certainly true, since Bey's group has been in the news before as a radical fringe group. I doubt that this will go anywhere in terms of imposing a theocracy in Oakland, but it's still unnerving that a group would feel enough power or immunity to engage in this type of religiously motivated vandalism. I also find it ironic that American Black Muslims, who are a relatively new group in terms of the Islamic faith, would see fit to take it upon themselves to chastise Muslims who come from countries that have practiced the faith for centuries -- and who, presumably, thought they'd find religious freedom in America.