Young Americans are exploring the Koran to understand Palestinian “resilience” and express solidarity with Gaza, according to a recent essay in The Guardian US, which describes the recent trend among Western youth seeking to align religious texts with progressive values, with some seeing Islam’s holy book as an “anti-consumerist, anti-oppressive, and feminist” work.
While the piece describes some of the more modest motivations of the recent converts, it makes no mention of the radical messaging the very women mentioned have expressed online, Breitbart News has found.
The Monday article, penned by writer Alaina Demopoulos and titled “Young Americans are picking up the Qur’an ‘to understand the resilience of Muslim Palestinians,’” highlights a growing interest in empathizing with foreign cultures through religious texts, as part of a shift in perceptions of Islam.
Young Americans are picking up the Qur’an ‘to understand the resilience of Muslim Palestinians’ https://t.co/7yRrrl0VQy
— Guardian US (@GuardianUS) November 20, 2023
According to the essay, these youth “find themes that align with their values as they seek to ‘grow empathy’ for a religion long vilified in the west.”
One Chicago resident, Megan B. Rice, describes being influenced by the war in Gaza, which began October 7 when Hamas launched an attack that saw some 3,000 terrorists burst into Israel by land, sea, and air and gun down participants at an outdoor music festival while others went door to door hunting for Jewish men, women, and children in local towns who were then subject to torture, rape, execution, immolation, and kidnapping.
The massacre, which drew parallels to scenes from the Nazi Holocaust, resulted in more than 1,200 dead inside the Jewish state, over 5,300 more wounded, and at least 241 hostages of all ages taken.
The vast majority of the victims are civilians and include dozens of American citizens.
“I wanted to talk about the faith of Palestinian people, how it’s so strong, and they still find room to make it a priority to thank God, even when they have everything taken away from them,” Rice is cited as having said in an interview.
Lacking a religious upbringing, she formed a “World Religion Book Club” on Discord, inviting individuals from diverse backgrounds to join her in studying Islam’s central text.
Her study of the Koran, initially for understanding, led to her full conversion to Islam within one month, finding it aligned with her “anti-consumerist, anti-oppressive, and feminist” beliefs.
“As a Black woman, I’m used to the American government spreading harmful stereotypes that lead to misconceptions that people outside of my community have on me,” Rice said. “I never believed the stereotypes that were spread about the Muslim community post-9/11, but it wasn’t until I started reading the Qur’an that I realized I sort of internalized those misconceptions, because I believed that Islam was a very severe or strict religion.”
However, in one clip she posted online not mentioned by The Guardian, Rice appears to concur with the anti-American message of terror leader Osama bin Laden’s infamous “Letter to America,” as she pushed conspiracy theories relating to the 9/11 attacks.
Maybe it’s just us OG activists who remember. 😂
The current trend of turning to the Koran is mirrored on the Chinese-owned TikTok social network, where the hashtag “quranbookclub” reflects a growing interest, particularly among young women, in exploring Islamic texts.
Videos under the hashtag “show users holding up their newly purchased texts and reading verses for the first time,” the essay notes, while others are “finding free versions online, or listening to someone sing the verses while they drive to work.”
The motivation, as noted by Zareena Grewal, an associate professor at Yale, contrasts with post-9/11 trends where the Koran was often read to confirm beliefs about Islam being “an inherently violent religion.”
“They are turning to the Qur’an to understand the incredible resilience, faith, moral strength and character they see in Muslim Palestinians,” she is quoted as saying.
However, the essay makes no mention of the fact that Grewal, who describes herself as a “radical Muslim,” sparked outrage after appearing to express support of Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel as it unfolded, calling October 7 “such an extraordinary day!”
It's completely insane that @Yale supports terrorist sympathisers like @ZareenaGrewal, their professor for American studies and religious studies, who also happens to hate America and all other religions pic.twitter.com/Ux9A7WMVPj
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) October 12, 2023
Also not mentioned is how she described Israel as a “murderous, genocidal settler state,” while claiming Palestinians “have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity.” Follow up posts appeared to celebrate Hamas’s brutal massacre, which saw entire families wiped out and babies burned alive, according to the Israeli military.
In response, over 56,000 people signed a petition calling for her immediate firing.
Another example The Guardian cites is Nefertari Moonn from Tampa, who, influenced by the courage of Palestinians, read the Koran and found it deeply resonating, leading to her conversion as well.
“I can’t explain it, but there’s a peace that comes with reading the Qur’an,” she said. “I feel light, like I came back to something that was always there and waiting for me to return.”
What The Guardian failed to mention is that Moonn appears to push the notion that support for Israel is linked to white supremacy in a clip posted to social media.
Misha Euceph, a Pakistani American writer and podcaster focusing on progressive interpretations of the Koran, has been hosting a Qur’an Book Club series on Instagram since 2020, noting its themes resonate with young, progressive Americans who see its texts “align” with “left-leaning” values.
Euceph, who has worked alongside former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, as a producer on the Obama family’s various podcast series, claims the Koran is “full of nature metaphors and encourages you to be an environmentalist.”
“In the Qur’an, men and women are equals in the eyes of God, and Rice and other TikTok converts say their interpretations of the text back up their feminist principles,” the essay continues.
However, though omitted by The Guardian, Euceph has said that reports of Hamas’s brutality against Israeli women and children were “completely unverified” and “feed into Islamaphobic tropes.”
On Tuesday, author and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was raised in a strict Muslim family in Somalia, warned that young, progressive Western women recently converting to Islam in light of the Hamas-Israel war are “throwing away” their freedom by doing so.
“Islamic scripture, Islamic law, Sharia law and Islamic practice is crystal clear about the position of women, and it’s inferior to men,” she said. “Your testimony is half that of a man. Your husband can beat you. You have absolutely no freedom.”
Hirsi Ali attributed the trend to the younger generation being “completely and utterly confused about who they are and where they stand,” indoctrinated by “anti-Western” and “anti-American” ideology.
She also expressed “shock” over the fact that women are now converting to Islam after having seen images from October 7 when Hamas “paraded” captive women in the streets and documented rapes “for the whole world to see.”
The matter comes as young TikTokers recently began promoting al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his propaganda, as his “Letter to America” justifying the September 11 attacks went viral on the Chinese-owned social platform last week, with videos on the topic garnering millions of views.
Bin Laden literally writes in the “Letter to America” that he’s angry America is a nation that actually votes for its government and isn’t a one party fundamentalist Islamic state governed by Shariah law.
Therefore, he’s justified in murdering American citizens.
You can tell… pic.twitter.com/pTsSeTJ08z
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 16, 2023
Bin Laden was the mastermind of those attacks which took place 22 years ago and saw Islamic terrorists crash passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon — with an additional plane crashing in rural Pennsylvania following a passenger revolt — killing nearly 3,000 Americans.
Over the past 24 hours, thousands of TikToks (at least) have been posted where people share how they just read Bin Laden’s infamous "Letter to America," in which he explained why he attacked the United States.
The TikToks are from people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and… pic.twitter.com/EwjiGtFEE3
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 16, 2023
Amid the public debate on the Israel-Hamas war, a new generation of those mostly born after September 11, 2001, or too young to recall the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history, were seen defending bin Laden for his opposition to America and its support for Israel.