Obama Thanks Oklahoma Beheader’s Mosque

Did President Obama send a White House representative to thank the mosque of the Oklahoma beheading suspect?

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Claim:   President Obama sent a White House representative to thank an Oklahoma mosque with which beheading suspect Alton Nolen was affiliated.


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Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2014]


Meme circulating stating that Obama sent a message to the mosque of the Oklahoma beheader praising the mosque the day after the beheading for assising with the Moore OK cleanup in 2013, but did not acknowledge the woman’s beheading. Has not acknowledged woman’s beheading as a muslim act on American soil. Praised mosque of jihadist day after beheading American on American soil. Is this true?

 

Origins:   On 26 September 2014, a 54-year-old female

employee of Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, was beheaded at that facility. Former co-worker Alton Nolen was arrested and charged in connection with the attack, and a funeral for the victim, Colleen Hufford, was held in Moore on 3 October 2014.

On 4 October 2014, the local Muslim community celebrated Islamic holiday of Eid Ul-Adha in Oklahoma City, and David Myers, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, spoke at the Greater Islamic Society of Oklahoma City. Myers delivered a message of gratitude from President Obama to the community for its service following a devastating tornado in Moore in 2013:


Leaders of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City say it’s been a tough month for Muslims here in Oklahoma after being associated with the beheading at Vaughan foods in Moore.

Leaders of the faith here in the state say vicious messages are being left for Oklahoma Muslims, telling them to get out of Oklahoma and threatening to behead them all because the man behind the beheading claimed to be Muslim.

But the Muslim community received the highest form of praise from the White House for their hard work in helping rebuild the Moore community after a destructive tornado tore through the city in 2013.

Today, an official from Washington D.C. flew in to Oklahoma to present a special thank you to the Muslim congregation.

He read a message from President [Barack] Obama, extending warm greetings from the American people during the Muslim holiday.

“Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Barack Obama said.


 

The timing of Myers’ visit to the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City caused consternation in the blogosphere where the message was interpreted as a tacit show of sympathy in the wake of the Moore beheading:


Myers’ special trip was seemingly meant to counteract negative attention the mosque has received following Nolen’s gruesome murder of coworker Colleen Hufford.

Federal and local authorities have avoided tying Nolen’s attacks to his Muslim faith, asserting that the acts are a case of workplace violence. Nolen was reportedly enthralled by online videos depicting beheadings such as the ones recently carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against American and British citizens.


 

In September 2014, Director of Islamic information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC) Saad Mohammed confirmed that Nolen began attending for prayer services in May or June of that year. However, he also noted that Nolen had been seen at the mosque only a few times and kept to himself, and he condemned Nolen’s actions:


He attended this mosque a few times. We’ve seen him. He was always a very odd and quiet, different individual, but he didn’t do anything that would raise a red flag about what his inner thoughts were.

I saw him here every Friday, and at one time he had his prayer rug and his Quran on the floor, and I made him pick up the Quran because we don’t want the holy book of god on the floor. So I asked him to pick it up, and he did and that was the end of it.

“It was very sickening that a human being could do this to another human being, no matter if they’re Muslim or non-Muslim,” Mohammed said.

Members say the mosque does not teach violence and denounces ISIS. Many say Nolen was mentally disturbed and latched on to some extremist views.

“We don’t have any association with these kind of people. This is some like random guy, who was just doing this crazy stuff, and they’re like blaming Islam for that, so that’s not cool,” said mosque member Dr. Syed Hashmi. “We love humanity and we love mankind.”


 

Dr. Syed Hashmi, who also attends the mosque, said Nolen was not associated with ISGOC:


We don’t have any association with these kind of people. This is some like random guy, who was just doing this crazy stuff, and they’re like blaming Islam for that, so that’s not cool … We love humanity and we love mankind.

 

Ultimately, it is true that President Obama sent a message of thanks to the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City and that a DHS representative delivered the message on 4 October 2014. However, murder suspect Alton Nolen’s affiliation with that group appears to be quite tenuous (he had attended the mosque only a few times and was largely unknown to group leadership there), and President Obama’s message was timed to be issued in conjunction with a major Muslim holiday (which coincidentally fell a week after the tragic local events) and thanked the group for their substantial efforts in helping to rebuild a tornado-ravaged community (an event that long predated the murder of Colleen Hufford).

Last updated:   6 October 2014


Sources:




    Donley, Michael.   “Oklahoma Muslims Receive Special Praise from White House Officials.”

    KFOR-TV.   4 October 2014.

   Hope, Heather.   “Members Of OKC Mosque Speak Out Against Alton Nolen.”

    News9.   28 September 2014.

    Ross, Chuck.   “Obama Official Praises Mosque of Oklahoma Beheader Alton Nolen.”

    The Daily Caller.   5 October 2014.

    Slipke, Darla.   “Family, Friends Remember Colleen Hufford, Who Was Killed in Attack.”

    NewsOK.   4 October 2014.