As news broke of the Ohio State University attack Monday, journalists and politicians predictably rushed to fit the developing story into one narrative or another.
What was first thought to be a mass shooting carried out by multiple attackers turned out to be a knife attack carried out by a Muslim refugee from Somalia who had recently transferred to the university and is now a suspected terrorist. Initial cries for more gun control laws were soon more or less drowned out by “I told you sos” regarding the danger of Muslim immigrants.
Here are the four most bizarre headlines generated in the course of the attack and its aftermath as journalists grappled with the story.
1. Ohio State Attacker Described Himself As ‘Scared’ Muslim
The Daily Beast ran this headline Monday afternoon, when news broke that the alleged attacker purportedly complained of feeling afraid to exercise his faith on campus. “I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media,” Abdul Razak Ali Artan told the OSU student newspaper.
That was in August, just a few months before Artan allegedly went on a campus killing spree.
“I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be,” he said in the interview. “If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.”
Artan allegedly drove his car off the road into a group of people gathered on the sidewalk, before going at them with a large butcher knife Monday morning.
“But, I don’t blame them,” he told the paper. “It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re going to just have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
2. Muslim Community Fears Backlash After Ohio State Attack
It’s the Muslim students on Ohio State’s campus who are worried in the aftermath of the attack, reports NPR. A Muslim Somali student and the director of an Islamic center in Columbus told NPR people in the Muslim community are fearing for their lives following the attempted killing spree by the Muslim refugee perpetrated against Ohio State students.
The student told NPR he particularly fears the mean looks and comments he may receive, after another Muslim drove his car into a group of people and began hacking at them with a butcher knife. The day after the attack would be a “day of trepidation,” he said. About one particular tweet accusing the attacker of being ungrateful for his refugee status, the student added: “That one really, it shakes the core of you, you know.”
The director of the Islamic Center voiced similar fears, and said he had to hold meetings to reassure scared Muslims in his community following the brutal attack on non-Muslims. “I was with my wife and I said, ‘I hope he is not a Muslim.’”
3. Politicians, Activists Rush to Blame Ohio State Stabbing Spree on Guns
It turned out that the only act of gun violence in the attack was from the police officer who shot the suspected terrorist dead, but many journalists, activists and pundits almost immediately blamed guns, as The Washington Free Beacon reported. Perhaps most notably, Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine said he is “deeply saddened” by the “senseless act of gun violence” in the hours following the attack.
Kaine sent the message in a tweet after it had become clear the attacker used a knife. And of course the gun violence actually very sensibly ended the would-be killer’s life, but he apparently jumped to conclusions along with many others.
Others more bluntly called for stricter gun control laws in response to the shooting that never happened. Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted: “I’m equal parts devastated for Ohio State / furious we allow this to keep happening. The 46th school shooting this year – 1 per week.”
And a student added: “Ohio State University has an active shooter. I’m so fucking tired of people rejecting background checks. We students have a right to be safe.”
4. Investigators look for motive behind Ohio State attack
CNN downplayed key findings regarding the attack in this headline posted Tuesday morning. All indicators point to a terror motive, even though authorities had not made a conclusive motive determination when CNN ran the story.
The suspect’s identity as a Muslim refugee who spent seven years in Pakistan — as well as an anti-America rant he posted to his Facebook prior to the attack — strongly suggest a terror motive. The way he carried out the attack is also consistent with al Qaida and Islamic State tactics, according to a private security intelligence company.
“I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim Brothers and Sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE,” Artan wrote on his Facebook page minutes before the attack. “Seeing my fellow Muslims being tortured, raped and killed in Burma led to a boiling point. I can’t take it anymore.”
“By Allah, we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims,” he added. “You will not celebrate or enjoy any holiday.”
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