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Sharia law in Minneapolis and Antifa’s role: How concerned should we be?

Following Floyd’s death, the street protests, arson, and looting for weeks in Minneapolis and the cities around the world, shook the human conscience to the core.

Not all ideas come to fruition but given appropriate stimuli, the political, financial, and media support, there is a high probability of some ideas becoming a reality. Sharia law in Minneapolis- is it just an idea and why? It is because, Minneapolis experienced the tragic death of George Floyd, a death which was avoidable, unwarranted, and undoubtedly a sign of racial prejudice by a White policeman against a Black man.

While the prejudice has been part of us as human beings for time immemorial, by the privileged toward underprivileged, Floyd’s death led to climatic conditions with the unprecedented and sinister idea as dire as the city governed under Sharia law.

What is troubling is how the tragedy associated with Floyd’s death is being politicized as (a) a case of police brutality, which it is, (b) a call for disbanding and/or defunding the police department but to what end, and (c) the revival and sustained movement of “Black Lives Matter (BLM)” as we approach Presidential elections in the U.S.

The intent of this write up is to further analyze the ill-gotten idea by the opportunists to govern Minnesota under Sharia law. Could it be a microcosm of Islamization around the globe and a threat to other religions that have otherwise co-existed for centuries?

Following Floyd’s death, the street protests, arson, and looting for weeks in Minneapolis and the cities around the world, shook the human conscience to the core. This included the leadership in Minneapolis city council, who, on June 7, pledged to “disband” the city’s police department and replace it with a new system of public safety. A resolution was passed with a veto-proof majority to “dismantle” and “abolish” the embattled police agency responsible for Floyd’s death.

Ever since the debate and discussions have followed about what do disband, dismantle, defund, and abolish mean; all added to the mix? Are these synonyms? The Mayor of Minneapolis is in favor of a long-overdue major overhaul of the police department but not let it disappear and risk public safety. The city council President herself appears conflicted although she led the way. I characterize the current stalemate as a state of confusion among the citizens and city leadership.

While that cloud of confusion hangs over Minneapolis, the headline, “Antifa and Muslim Groups Plan to ‘Police Minneapolis Under Muslim Rule’” heightens the cause of concern. It matters because a lawmaker raised the issue and asserted that Antifa and Muslim organizations plan to “police Minneapolis under Muslim rule.” Reportedly, the residents of Somali descent in Minneapolis in 2016 verbalized that they preferred Sharia law over American laws. I live in this community but had never known or heard that anyone would have such a preference. As an immigrant myself, I embraced the U.S. as the land of opportunity with the freedom of expression and protection under the law.

The article by Robert Spencer, a noted author (21 books) and expert on Jihad Watch goes on to suggest that the Sharia patrols have been in Germany, Britain, and even New York City, where the Muslim Community Patrol (MCP) is decked out in uniforms that strongly resemble New York Police Department (NYPD) uniforms. The MCP drives cars carefully designed to look like NYPD cars, to enforce “fundamentals of the Sharia.”

Should this ill-gotten idea gain further momentum in Minneapolis, there is no telling where it goes and how fast it spreads like the wildfire. The political winds during the months leading to the Presidential elections may add fuel to this fire beyond Minneapolis and reach global destinations due to our interconnectedness on social media and the Internet.

I had hardly ever heard of Antifa nor cared about it prior to Trump’s tweet to declare, “ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” during the protests in Minneapolis. Since then, Antifa has unexpectedly become headline narrative with possible real-world consequences. First, what is Antifa? By all accounts, it is not an organization but a loosely structured group of likeminded people with antifascist (Antifa in short) ideology.

Arguably, the Minneapolis protests and similar protests elsewhere may have been incited and/or aided by Antifa believers but there is no documented evidence yet. It is important to underscore a recent Washington Post report according to which 437 articles, posted between May 25 and June 4, featured the term “antifa” using “organization” or “movement” interchangeably, and using the vague term “group” most often.

Furthermore, “Often, the articles described antifa as rioters, criminals, terrorists, and the like; implying that if antifa members are rioters, then acts of rioting might also make you antifa.” The Black Lives Matter movement was mentioned alongside antifa or presented as also involved in violent actions.

Recently, Trump has not hesitated to accuse BLM leader guilty of “treason,” a very serious charge indeed. Trump, as the President, perhaps knows something about Antifa and BLM we don’t but it is significant to cause an alarm about Antifa as an ideology.

Equally significant is the association of certain influential persons mentioned in the report, “The term antifa was also used to characterize specific individuals like Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general who criminally charged the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s killing; George Soros, the financier, and philanthropist often demonized by the right-wing; left-leaning Democratic politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.); as well as actors and media personalities or Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, whose company recently began flagging some of the president’s tweets as false or inciting violence.” The U.S. Attorney General Barr, on the contrary, blamed the Antifa group for inciting violence and sowing discord which is still under investigation.

No matter what Antifa stands for, it has gained unprecedented notoriety to have the potential for real-world consequences. The alleged association with elite politicians, financiers, and media leaders provides Antifa their eyes, ears, and mouth (advocacy) as well as the resources and power of media to practice and promote the ideology unabated with no geographical boundaries.

What must be feared most is the perceived or real association between the militant Muslim faithful and Antifa believers. Why? There have been numerous terrorist activities that were linked to Muslim Jihadis, Mujahidin, ISIS, or similar groups operating in an Islamic country or allegedly receiving financial backing from those countries.

The most gruesome example of terrorism is the 9-11 in New York City, funded and masterminded by Bin Laden and executed by the nationals of Saudi Arabia. How ironic it is that Pakistan continued to accept the U.S. funds to help U.S. hunt Bin Laden while hiding him in Pakistan for many years? Is not it an extreme example of the United States rewarding a perpetrator with no consequences even after Bin Laden’s death?

The Washington Post research directly describes antifa as a terrorist entity or explicitly agreed with Trump’s tweet. Most often, the right-wing websites mention antifa’s “violence;” usually accusing antifa of violently destroying property, rioting or looting (perhaps Minneapolis is an example), or less often attacking “police” or “journalists.” Often, when mentioning antifa’s “violence,” these sites accused antifa of “hijacking” or exploiting protests after traveling across state lines.

Extrapolating the travel from across state-lines to across countries, the brotherhood between Muslim jihadis and Antifa believers is a real threat to non-Muslim nations and societies. For example, India with the Hindu majority was occupied by Muslim rulers over many centuries. They forcibly converted Hindus to the Muslim faith and committed heinous atrocities such as sexual exploitation of Hindu girls and women, demolition of Hindu temples and building mosques there, job discrimination against Hindus, etc.

That religious acrimony has never stopped even after the partition of India with an exclusive Muslim nation (Pakistan). Unfortunately, India has witnessed constant threats by Muslim militants both within and beyond who have so much accumulated hatred to seek the annihilation of Hinduism and openly labeling Hindus as “Kafirs,” the common insulting term for all non‐ Muslims.

There are many radical Muslims around everywhere who, if given the power, would have no hesitation forcing non-Muslim to accept conversion to Islam and become the believers. It was not too long ago that the European countries graciously accepted Muslim refugees and they are now being threatened by Sharia law at the peril of their century’s old faith and traditions.

It is ironic that Floyd’s tragic death occurred in Minneapolis making the city a hotbed for the violence-ridden protests which otherwise has been known for Minnesota Nice. Did the city deserve such notoriety? Today, the city council leadership is discussing police department reforms, the right thing to do. But the idea of police enforcing Sharia law is frightening which is coming from a lawmaker who should know more than the average citizen.

I was dumbfounded that the select city residents, welcomed by Minnesotans not too long ago, preferred Sharia law. I have seen the images of live protests and feel threatened not knowing if Antifa was/continues to be active in any part of local protests and politics. I wonder if the choice of Sharia law among Minnesotans has been further investigated and questions asked why? How deep-rooted is the influence of the Antifa group and/or ideology in this community and beyond? How well Minnesota and global politicians, policymakers, and people know about Antifa and the conspiracy of Sharia law and agree with the research offered by the Washington Post?

As difficult as it is to disregard the politics of Left versus Right, we must be wary of Sharia law in Minneapolis, the United States, and all other non-Muslim nations and communities. While I attempted to connect a few dots, I remain baffled and confused at best with the idea of an American city under Sharia law. However, remaining silent, not trying to get familiar with Antifa, short for antifascists, and not fighting Sharia ideology head-on are not the options for any responsible citizen globally.

Note for Readers: The use of “antifa” is the choice of the author of the Washington Post article which I did not change but I used Antifa as a noun.

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agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.

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