Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa: What’s In A Name?

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Photo Credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Richard Edward and the Narrator Argue over Motive

It isn’t often in this life I am so stunned by events that my brain simply recoils in disgust and my “opinion generator” fails to start. Today, however, is one of those days.

I am reading about the senseless slaughter of ten Americans, who dared to venture into the confines of a public supermarket. My anger rises and my lizard cortex takes over. I am pissed. Fox News, as they normally do, encapsulates the events of this tragedy in a concise and professional manner. Fox writer Stephanie Pagones updates the story with the names of those killed and the name of the suspect who pulled the trigger on our neighbors.

Pagones writes:

Boulder, Colo., police officials updated the public regarding Monday’s mass shooting at the King Soopers grocery store that left 10 people dead, including the first police officer to arrive on the scene, revealing they have charged the suspect with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Police identified the suspect as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old Arvada, Colo., man, though his motive for the attack was not specified at this time. Police also identified the 10 victims, whose families were notified by 4 a.m. local time. They range in age from 20 to 65 years old.

Yesterday, some reporters, nieces of U.S. politicians and twitter users immediately seized upon the “white man goes on shooting rampage” narrative.

Today, there is a different story to consider and the response to the story seems a lot quieter now. Could it be the name of the suspect is taking the mainstream media into territory they don’t really like, aren’t comfortable with? Was it really the dreaded ‘white man’, or could it have been someone else from a more protected category of identity politics?

Narrator: “Richard Edward, whatever are you writing about?”

Richard Edward: “It’s the name” I respond to no one.  “It’s the suspects name. It sounds like its foreign, almost like it’s the name of someone from the Middle East.”

Narrator: “Don’t be silly. Everyone has a name. How could it be foreign sounding? Besides, if it was someone from the Middle East, the media would have buried the story on the back page.”

Richard Edward: “Well, its weird in that it’s actually four names and they all start with the letter “A.” I mean, c’mon, who has two middle names that all start with the same letter?”

Narrator: “Well, there was A. A. Milne, but its only three letters and one letter is an M. He was British anyway. That’s a tough question, Richard Edward.”

Richard Edward: “The fact that this killer’s name is so unusual and that he has allegedly killed ten people without apparent motive, well, there just has to be something more to this than meets the eye.  I am going to do some sleuthing.”

So, just like the rest of the reporters in the mainstream media who were never trained to find and report news, I start with an internet search. I enter “4As.”

Expecting to find something that ties this unusual name to the Middle East and the cultures/religions from that area, imagine my surprise when my search resulted in a match with the American Psychological Association website.

Now, my search result didn’t tell me anything about names or if they were associated with any particular religion, but it did tell me about social behavior. I am starting to become nervous. Why does the search result scare me? Because the 4 As represent the four primary symptoms of schizophrenia.

Fundamental Symptoms:

According to Eugen Bleuler, the four primary symptoms of schizophrenia: abnormal associations in thinking, autistic behavior and thinking, abnormal affect (including flat and inappropriate affect), and ambivalence. These symptoms are also known as the Four As.

Now I am hopelessly confused. I so wanted this to be an easy answer – a Muslim man went on a rampage and killed ten other people, this comes shortly after Syrian territory was bombed by U.S. forces. On Feb. 26, NBC News reported: “Biden orders airstrikes in Syria, retaliating against Iran-backed militias.”

Simple, right? U.S. bombs Syria and a Syrian-born person living in the U.S. responds and kills his neighbors. One and done, I can go meet the rest of the press corps at the bar for happy hour.

Then my inner Richard Edward surfaces, kicks my lizard cortex back into hibernation and asks, “Okay, smart guy, what about the 4As connection you discovered. Is there a connection with a guy who has four As in his name and what you read on the associations website?” Nah, can’t be. Four As simply has to be a coincidence, right?

Sure, the guy might be an angry Muslim (we aren’t sure about this), but what if Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa is also a schizophrenic, and his Muslim roots have nothing to do with his violent behavior – what if it’s all about his mental illness? Ugh. Just when I think Occam was right, my 4As research tangles up my brain.

First A:  Abnormal associations in thinking. I don’t know, but the guy did take a semiautomatic weapon to a grocery store. Not something I’d normally carry on a trip to the grocery store.

Second A:  Autistic behavior and thinking. I don’t know, but I’ll guess that shooting ten of your neighbors isn’t found on the scale of acceptable social norms.

Third A:  Abnormal affect (flat or inappropriate affect). I don’t know, but I did see his picture. There is a definite lack of ‘something’ there.

Fourth A:  Ambivalence.  I don’t know and who cares.

I do know that the guy is a murdering slug and regardless of his motive, religious jihad, simply bat-guano crazy or both, he is still a murdering slug.

So, his foreign name doesn’t really matter. Religious affiliation doesn’t matter. Muslim, atheist, druid, or Jonestown cultist, killers are killers. His lack of empathy for his fellow man can be the result of mental illness or religious indoctrination.

My thoughts immediately turn to the families and loved ones of those who were killed by Mr. 4 As. They may never know the real reason their loved ones were slaughtered, but the best I can hope for is for justice to be delivered swiftly and that the hearts of those surviving family members can find solace in the grace and embrace of a God who tells us that we should love one another.

Richard Edward thinks the guy’s name might be relevant as to why this happened. If you disagree or have a different theory from your sleuthing, please leave a comment.

— Richard Edward Tracy

Switzerland Votes to Ban Full Face Coverings in Most Public Spaces

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Switzerland narrowly voted to ban full facial coverings such as burqas and niqabs in most public spaces on Sunday. CNN reports that 51.2 percent of Swiss voters supported the new law. It is important to note that the “referendum text does not explicitly mention Islam or the words ‘niqab’ or ‘burqa’.” However, that is what is meant.

I support the ban on burqas for two reasons. First, and most importantly, an individual can hide all sorts of things under a burqa, anything from a weapon to their identity. In a world where acts of terrorism are becoming a regular occurrence, people can’t be allowed to wear a garment that covers up their identity.

Secondly, immigrants should make an effort to assimilate into the culture and customs of their new country.

The ban does not apply to health and safety masks worn for protection against COVID-19. Moreover, full facial veils may still be worn “inside places of prayer and for ‘native customs’, such as carnival.”

According to The Guardian, “Switzerland’s parliament and the seven-member executive council that constitutes the country’s federal government opposed the referendum proposal. They argued that full facial veils represented a “fringe phenomenon”, and instead proposed an initiative that would force people to lift their facial coverings when asked to confirm their identity to officials.”

Many groups are critical of the ban. Ines Al Shikh, a member of Les Foulards Violets, a Muslim feminist collective, told the Guardian, “This is clearly an attack against the Muslim community in Switzerland. What is aimed here is to stigmatize and marginalize Muslims even more.”

The Swiss Federation of Islamic Umbrella Organizations issued a statement that read, “This symbolic policy is directed against female and male Muslims. But it also damages the whole of Switzerland, which has undermined its own values by accepting the initiative.”

A commerce organization of hotel owners and tourism professionals expressed concern that it would “reduce the number of visitors from Arab countries.” Nicole Brändle Schlegel of the Hotellerie Suisse umbrella organization said the ban would “damage our reputation as an open and tolerant tourism destination.”

The Guardian reports:

The initiative behind the referendum was launched in 2016 by the Egerkingen Committee, an association that also successfully pushed for a vote to ban the building of new minarets in 2009, and which has links to the populist rightwing Swiss People’s party.

Campaign ads it paid for showed a woman wearing a niqab and sunglasses alongside the slogan: “Stop extremism! Yes to the veil ban.”

A video on the Swiss government’s website explaining the arguments in favor of a ban proposed that “religious veils like the burqa or the niqab are a symbol of the oppression of women and aren’t suitable to our society”.

The Ticino and St Gallen cantons already have local bans on face coverings. Three other cantons rejected such proposals. Face coverings at protests and sports events are already banned in 15 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.

A recent study by the University of Lucerne put the number of women in Switzerland who wear a niqab at 21 to 37, and found no evidence at all of women wearing the burqa, which women were forced to wear in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

In Ticino, where a ban on full facial veils was introduced in 2016, it has since led to around 30 police interventions.

Muslims make up around 5% of the Swiss population of 8.6 million, or about 390,000 people, most of whom have their roots in Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.

The referendum outcome means Switzerland will follow France, which banned wearing a full-face veil in public in 2011. Full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public are also in place in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Shortly before becoming UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson came under fire for saying that women dressed in burqas look like “letter boxes.”

Johnson wrote an op-ed in “The Telegraph” in response to Denmark’s newly passed legislation banning women from wearing burkas. Johnson said that although burkas are “oppressive and ridiculous” and that they make women look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers,” women should be able to wear them if they choose to.

I wrote about that story here.