Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Drops the Ball on Terror

Comparing Worldwide Islamic Terror to the KKK is Absurd 

Writing in TIME magazine, former NBA superstar and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar claimed the recent terror attacks in France weren’t connected to Islam, the faith he adopted several decades ago:

Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop bringing Islam into these discussions.

Kareem, you couldn’t be more wrong, and I’m not saying that because you used to decimate my beloved Boston Celtics. And it’s important to get this right, because until we face the hard facts, these type of attacks will continue to proliferate around the globe and more innocents will die.

The Charlie Hebdo attackers screamed “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) and “We have avenged the prophet Muhammad!” They specifically attacked a publication that they believed blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad and then, unsurprisingly, a Kosher supermarket was later chosen as a hostage site. Four Jews lost their lives there. (It is worth noting that a Muslim worker heroically saved the lives of six people during that attack).

Not about religion? These attacks were solely motivated by an extremist Islamic ideology that permits and encourages the use of violence against “blasphemers” and non-Muslims, particularly Jews.

CNN’s Nic Robertson recently examined how radical Islamic extremists have been striking around the world, just in recent weeks: his report showed a school in Pakistan where 132 (mostly Muslim) school children were killed by the Taliban; next up in the report was the Australian chocolate shop where an Islamic terrorist took hostages and killed two people; then he mentioned the targeting of a police station in Turkey by a female suicide bomber.

Of course, here in Israel, we have the misfortune of suffering constant attacks from Islamic radicals, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad (think about the latter’s name for a moment). In November, two radicals took the lives of five people in Jerusalem, four of whom were praying in a synagogue during the attack.

Afterwards, the families of the terrorists celebrated the murders and called their deceased relatives “martyrs.”

Despite this worldwide scourge, Kareem incredibly compared worldwide Islamic attacks to the Klu Klux Klan!

When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising Mohammed or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time.

The Klan is of course an entirely American phenomenon with around 8,000 members and according to researchers, today “for the most part, members try to avoid confrontation.”

When was the last big KKK attack? For comparison’s sake, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is said to have massacred 2,000 people in Nigeria in 2015 (this month). No one thinks the Klan represents mainstream Christianity because it is a tiny, fringe group that is barely active. They aren’t attacking newspapers that blaspheme Jesus or conducting a worldwide terror campaign. It goes without saying that I consider them immoral/evil, but comparing the threat they pose to Islamic terror is absurd.

Kareem’s article doesn’t consider why Jews have been so frequently targeted for violence by Muslims in France, if this isn’t about religion. J.J. Goldberg went on MSNBC and was asked by a host to reassure viewers that the Jewish community in France isn’t under threat from Muslims. He couldn’t oblige in good conscience.

I’m afraid I let her down. I cited Ilan Halimi, the school in Toulouse, the Jewish Museum in Brussels (attacked by a French Muslim), the mob attack on the synagogue in Paris last summer — all perpetrated by Muslims.

Goldberg’s article in The Jewish Daily Forward about his appearance also quoted George Packer, whose eloquent The New Yorker piece exposes the fallacy of pretending these recent attacks aren’t about Islam:

Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a ‘distortion’ of a great religion…


A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents. Islam today includes a substantial minority of believers who countenance, if they don’t actually carry out, a degree of violence in the application of their convictions that is currently unique. Charlie Hebdo had been nondenominational in its satire, sticking its finger into the sensitivities of Jews and Christians, too—but only Muslims responded with threats and acts of terrorism. For some believers, the violence serves a will to absolute power in the name of God, which is a form of totalitarianism called Islamism—politics as religion, religion as politics. ‘Allahu Akbar!’ the killers shouted in the street outside Charlie Hebdo. They, at any rate, know what they’re about.


Unfortunately, when a religion of billions of people worldwide includes a “substantial minority of believers” who approve of violence, we are talking about millions of people around the globe. And it’s not just outsiders who are worried. Muslims are also scared. A survey by the Pew Research Center last summer found that “concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations.”

There are many peaceful and well-intentioned Muslims around the globe, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But now is not the time to let political correctness prevent us from openly and seriously discussing what has become a major issue in our times. Innocent lives depend on it.

About the Author
Eric Danis lives in Modi'in, Israel with his wife and three cute kids. Whenever possible, he tries to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about Israel and Judaism.