When a moment of silence is too much to ask

The Paris terrorists attacks occurred during a six day period of “international” soccer matches — i.e., contests between national teams. In fact, one of the attacks was directed at the Stade de France, where France was hosting Germany.

During the remaining matches, there was supposed to be a minute of silence in honor of the victims of the Paris attacks. Unfortunately, this was too much to ask of many Muslim soccer fans.

Let’s start with the worst case — the Turkey-Greece contest in Istanbul. As has been widely reported, Turkish fans jeered as players from both teams stood silently during what was supposed to be a minute of silence. Shouts of “Allahu Akbar” filtered through the stands.

Some apologists have tried to spin this disgraceful conduct. They claim that the booing was a protest of the fact that no minute of silence was observed throughout Europe after a terrorist attack in Ankara earlier this year. As for “Allahu Akbar,” one commentator claimed that “it has become common practice for Turkish fans to chant during moments of silence [to] honor the victims.”

Rubbish. Turkey’s manager Fatih Terim, a venerated figure in Turkish football, later lashed out at the chanters:

These whistles damage the image of our country. There were two matches on Tuesday canceled because of this terror. This is not child’s play. Terrorist threats are very serious. . . .

You realize there is not even a minute’s silence. My God. I cannot justify what happened. But if we act together, we can prevent the sport from being sacrificed to terrorism.

Istanbul wasn’t the only venue where Muslims refused to respect a minute of silence. In Dublin, Ireland hosted Bosnia-Herzegovina in a match that would determine which of the two nations qualifies for Euro 2016, scheduled to be played in France next year. Given the stakes, I decided to watch the match.

The minute of silence was not observed, nor was it just a couple of fans who failed to observe it. Watching on television, I couldn’t make out what was being yelled or who was yelling it. But Irish supporters are among the best behaved fans in Europe, and Islam is the predominant religion in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It seemed almost certain that the chants and catcalls were coming from Bosnians.

This report from USA Today confirms that indeed it was Bosnian supporters who refused to respect the moment of silence.

I also watched a match from Copenhagan, where Denmark hosted Sweden in another showdown for a spot at Euro 2016. Denmark, of course, has a sizable Muslim population, a portion of which is quite militant.

Some reports say that the moment of silence that preceded this match was “impeccably observed.” However, I’m pretty sure I heard some shouting. (What was shouted and who shouted it, I do not know).

The other European match I watched was the England-France clash at Wembley Stadium in London. Here, the minute of silence was, in fact, impeccably observed.

And thank God. In the French team was Lassana Diarra whose cousin, whom the player compared to a big sister, was killed in one of the Paris attacks. (Star player Antoine Griezemann’s sister was at the concert where scores were killed, but she was not among the victims.)

Even so, England and France should count themselves lucky that no one in the crowd acted up. According to The Scotsman, following the 7/7 attacks in England, almost a quarter of British Muslims said the attacks can be justified because of the Government’s support for the war on terror.

The next time you hear President Obama or Hillary Clinton insist that the wave of terrorism committed by Muslims has nothing to do with Islam and is deeply deplored within the Muslim world, remember this video.


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