Boston marathon blasts draw condemnation and dread in Muslim world: News Roundup

In the news this week, fear arises in the Muslim world over the Boston attacks, Oklahoma GOP Lawmaker apologizes To 'The Jews' For 'Jew Me Down' Comment. Buddhist monk uses racism and rumours to spread hatred in Burma, and other stories.

On Sept. 12, the day after Islamist militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, killing ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, local Libyans gathered for a public demonstration.

Libyan families waved signs in Arabic and English reading “Benghazi is against Terrorism,” “Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam,” “Chris Stevens was a Friend To all Libyans.” One photo captured a young boy holding the handwritten sign “Sorry People of America this not the behavior of our ISLAM and Profit.” A similar demonstration soon gathered in Tripoli. The tone at both rallies was positive and pro-American, but there was a second, subtler message being sent to the United States: We’re on your side, not theirs.

So little is known yet about what’s behind the explosions Monday at the Boston Marathon that any conclusion, including terrorism, would be premature. But that fear has been an early reflex not just in the United States but half a world away in the Middle East. There, a number of observers are expressing sympathy – recall that pro-American solidarity rallies were held throughout the region after Sept. 11, 2001 – and, at times, a sense of dread. The Washington Post

Oklahoma state Rep. Dennis Johnson (R-Duncan) apologized Wednesday for recently using the phrase "Jew me down." While speaking on the virtues of small business in debate over a bill Wednesday, he said, "They might try to Jew me down on a price. That's fine … that's free market as well." He was then handed a note about fifteen seconds later.

"Did I?" he said to a colleague. "I apologize to the Jews," he said to laughs. "They're good small businessmen as well." The Huffington Post

His name is Wirathu, he calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden" and he is a Buddhist monk who is stoking religious hatred across Burma.

The saffron-robed 45-year-old regularly shares his hate-filled rants through DVD and social media, in which he warns against Muslims who "target innocent young Burmese girls and rape them", and "indulge in cronyism".

To ears untrained in the Burmese language, his sermons seem steady and calm – almost trance-like – with Wirathu rocking back and forth, eyes downcast. Translate his softly spoken words, however, and it becomes clear how his paranoia and fear, muddled with racist stereotypes and unfounded rumours, have helped to incite violence and spread misinformation in a nation still stumbling towards democracy. The Guardian 

igh school is full of hypotheticals, like “How does one solve for x?” and “What happens if I skip class?” But this week, students at Albany High School were given an alarming thought puzzle: How do I convince my teacher that I think Jews are evil?That question was posed to about 75 students on Monday by an unidentified 10th-grade English teacher as a “persuasive writing” exercise. The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.

“Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion,” the assignment read. “You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!” The New York Times