On April 10, a religious fanatic from Tennessee was arrested for plotting to kill people and destroy a building in New York.
Although the 63-year-old man admitted to plotting the attack on American soil, he was recently released on bail.
He is clearly a terrorist but is not being labeled one – why? Where’s the outrage?
The answer is as simple as it is complicated: The would-be terrorist is not a Muslim.
Robert R. Doggart is, instead, an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. A former failed congressional candidate from Tennessee, this religious fundamentalist planned a violent attack on Islamberg, a Muslim area in the state of New York and destroy a mosque.
Doggart’s scheme came to the FBI’s attention after he made several incendiary comments on social media:
“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” Doggart stated in one of his posts, according to reports. “We shall be Warriors who inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”
His vile intentions were also evident in a couple of calls intercepted by the authorities.
"Those guys [ought or have] to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better," Doggart allegedly told an accomplice on the phone.
In another he said, “If there's a gunfight, well there's a gun fight. And I do want to come home 'cause I love my family and I want to see my kids again. But I also understand that if it's necessary to die then that's a good way to die.”
Fortunately, before Doggart could carry out his threats, the FBI arrested him on April 10 – a day before he was to reach Islamberg. He was charged with intentionally defacing, damaging, or destroying any religious property or attempting to do so, violating civil rights and making threats through interstate communications, according to Heavy.com.
Astonishingly though, the man was not accused of committing any terrorism-related crimes.
On April 24, 2015, Doggart plead guilty to one count of making threats via interstate for which he will be fined up to $250,000 and could end up serving five years in prison (the judge’s approval is pending).
He was later released after posting a $30,000 bond while he awaits sentencing.
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The court’s leniency with Doggart has triggered outcry among Muslim Americans – and perhaps rightly so.
In a press release, the Muslims of America stated that Doggart’s case is an example of the, “unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community.”
Public relations director with the group, Muhammad Matthew Gardner, said of the incident:
“In the same set of circumstances, our community would be facing unprecedented aggression and prosecution with labels of terrorism.”
Despite evidence that his intention to harm a community was religiously motivated, Doggart was not been labeled a terrorist. In fact, contrary to the usual procedure, neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest.
Muslim arrested plotting slaughter of Christians. Oh wait. Other way around. Never mind. Back to what you were doing. http://t.co/Wa7YtptRUB— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) May 19, 2015
There was no crazed minute-by-minute commentary by Fox News or CNN. No leaders were asked to apologize for Doggart’s actions. The government didn’t come up with any xenophobic laws buried in the façade of counterterrorism measures.
It’s because in the West, thanks to the stereotypes perpetuated by news channels and movies, it’s only Muslims who are portrayed as violent religious fanatics bombing other communities. Whenever a Muslim commits an atrocity anywhere in the world against non-Muslims, Islam is held responsible. However, when the roles are reversed, religion – or even atheism, as we saw in the Chapel shooting case in February – is rarely ever brought into the debate.
It’s high time these shameful double-standards often practiced by the mainstream media, government officials and law enforcement authorities were shunned. Otherwise, it would result in further marginalization of a community already misunderstood by the entire world.
Read More: What If The Chapel Hill Shooter Was Muslim?