WASHINGTON – A few minutes after a shooting occurred in a navy yard in Washington, American analysts rushed to blame Muslims for a possible terrorist attack, turning to the usual cliché for Muslims worldwide; guilty till proven innocent.
“We are only a few days past the 9/11 attacks here in Washington D.C.,” CNN reporter Barbara Starr said in a report on Monday, September 16, linking the attacks to Muslims.
“If there are two shooters, Wolf, if that problems to be correct, it is going to be the most significant fact,” Starr reported.
“It is going to mean that two people conspired to carry out this attack, that they talked about it ahead of time, that they planned it ahead of time. Even if it was just a short period ahead of time, that they had a plan to do this,” she added.
Link hundreds of busy reporters, Starr was commenting on the shooting on Monday at the US Navy Yard in Washington in which 12 people were killed, including one suspected gunman.
The exact number of dead and wounded fluctuated in the hours following the shooting, which took place about three miles from the White House, starting about 8:30 am EDT (1230 GMT).
In the latest estimate given by the Washington DC mayor and the police chief, there were 12 fatalities in the shooting at the Naval Sea Systems Command, one of five such commands where civilians, military personnel and contractors build, buy and maintain Navy ships and submarines.
"We have no indication of motive at this time," said Washington DC police chief Cathy Lanier, Reuters reported.
Police described the two other possible suspects as a white man and a black man, each wearing military style clothing, although other law enforcement officials cautioned that it was still unclear whether more than one gunman was involved.
"We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened at another military installation, in our nation's capital," said President Barack Obama, who spoke at the start of a speech on the US economy.
"They know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they face the unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home," he added.
Already some reports are linking the Washington Navy Yard shooting to Muslims.
For example, DebkaFILE website accused Al-Qaeda of performing the shooting, linking the attack to the recent videotape by Ayman Zawahiri calling for ‘lone wolf attack’ inside the United States.”
Alex Jones’ Info Wars said the same, except they add the caveat that they are uncertain whether the “shooters at the Navy Yard in Washington are in fact Muslims acting under the direction of al-Qaeda or inspired by the video produced by Ayman al-Zawahri.”
Even Reuters made a connection between the Fort Hood shooting and Muslim terrorists, pointing out how the Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death for murdering 13 people in 2009.
Users on social media rushed to express concerns about media stigmatization of Muslims.
“Have they blamed a Muslim for this US Navy shooting yet??!!,” asked a twitter user named Jamil Amirat wrote.
“The Washington Navy Yard shooter will remain a shooter unless he is identified as a Muslim, whereupon he becomes a terrorist,” ironic user Tony Mitchell added.
Another user, Sara Jane Fair, expressed anger over the media rush to blame Muslims for the shooting.
On the other hand, Muslims crossed their fingers, praying that the attacker does not turn out to be a Muslim.
“Shooting in DC in Navy Yard makes you cringe, and after that, all you hope is that it's not a Muslim,” Anum Zahid wrote.
“Please, for the love of God, don't let these Navy gunmen be Middle Eastern or Muslim,” a user, using the name @afsheeniscool added.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
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