A Muslim woman who the Washington Post reported was shouted down at a panel discussing the Benghazi attack at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, has a strange history, including ties to a convicted terrorist.
And the panelist accused of attacking the woman says the newspaper’s account mischaracterized what took place.
The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reported an exchange in which American University law student Saba Ahmed asked a question at the Benghazi panel, which a number of conservative groups had gathered to discuss.
“We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” Ahmed said, according to Milbank. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.”
Milbank characterized the exchange that followed the question as a hate-fest.
He wrote that “the session, as usual, quickly moved beyond the specifics of the [Benghazi] assaults” and lead “to accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the Obama administration”.
Most harrowing was Milbank’s claim that Brigitte Gabriel, a panelist from the group ACT! for America “pounced” on Ahmed.
“She said ’180 million to 300 million’ Muslims are ‘dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization,’” wrote Milbank.
“She told Ahmed that the ‘peaceful majority were irrelevant’ in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and she drew a Hitler comparison: ‘Most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million died,’” wrote Milbank.
“Are you an American?” Gabriel “demanded,” according to Milbank.
The Washington Post writer also criticized Gabriel for accusing Ahmed of hoarding “the limelight” and saying that her “political correctness” belongs “in the garbage.”
Others joined in on the bullying of Ahmed, according to Milbank’s account.
“Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” Chris Plante, the panel’s moderator, asked Ahmed.
Milbank reported that audience members taunted Ahmed and cheered on panelists who criticized her statement.
“I guess it’s me right now,” said Ahmed, responding to Plante’s question.
But Milbank left out key context from the event, says ACT! for America’s Gabriel.
Video footage provided by Media Matters for America shows the full exchange.
“Great question. I am so glad you’re here,” Gabriel said to Ahmed, following a response from Frank Gaffney, a prominent neoconservative.
But then she criticized Ahmed for detracting from the topic at hand during a discussion in which Muslims had not been mentioned.
“What I find so amazing is since the beginning of this panel, which we are here about Benghazi attack against our people, not one person mentioned Muslims, that we are here against Islam or that we are launching war against Muslims,” said Gabriel.
“We are here to discuss about how four Americans died and what our government is doing.”
“We were not here to bash Muslims. You were the one who brought up the issue about most Muslims, not us,” Gabriel continued.
Video from the event also shows that rather than demanding to know whether Ahmed was an American citizen, as Milbank reported, Gabriel asked the question in order to frame the rest of her comments.