MSNBC Guest on France Terror Attack: ISIS Is Just ‘Punks and Thugs,’ Not Islam

Like their fellow cable news outlets, MSNBC offered rolling coverage throughout the night Thursday into Friday due to the Nice, France terrorist attack and one such guest told breaking news anchor Brian Williams that ISIS should be known as “punks and thugs and mercenaries” instead of being associated with Islam. 

“What makes me very sad when I see this and I hear this intellectual discussion, which is fair and very, very bright people, but I think of my friends and I call them of North African descent. They're Muslims, their religion is not about running people down with a bus,” Daily Beast writer Dana Kennedy explained to Williams (who was in New York but usually resides in Nice).

Kennedy thoroughly pointed out how not all Muslims should be “tarred with this brush” and people like her that know Muslims “feel like you can’t defend them anymore,” but the idea that ISIS backers aren’t associated with a certain strain of Islam should have also been made clear.

>>Find all NewsBusters posts on the Nice, France terror attack here<<

She further opined that “young Muslims” she knows in France are “not terrorists” and should instead be conceptualized as career criminals and drug dealers:

[T]hey will tell me, the ISIS comes, they know who they recruit. They don't go to the mosques. They go to the drug deals. They go to delinquents. This guy we were finding out now, cause from friends of mine from the outskirts of Nice texted me — they texted me who he was. They said he wasn’t on La Fiche, the S-files, which is a list of containing people in France that the cops have on their radar, but he did apparently have petty crimes and that's what ISIS is, in my opinion. You know, punks and thugs and mercenaries, not real religious scholars.

Surprisingly, Williams pushed back using a phrase he repeatedly used throughout the attack’s coverage of “a guy with a truck and a bad idea”:

If your Muslim friends were here with us on this roundtable and I've been asking them what we’ve been asking people all night, what do you do? What do you do about a guy with a truck and a bad idea and — and perhaps troubles in the head? What's the solution? 

The always-noteworthy anchor’s guest responded that she didn’t have a solution but was “frustrating” nonetheless because she’s “very close with the rector of a mosque in Caen and a mosque in Marseille and what they do is actually a lot of them give courses around Europe” but are not covered in the news since “[i]t’s not a very sexy story.”

The relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s live coverage of the Nice, France terror attack in the early hours of July 15 can be found below.

MSNBC Special
July 15, 2016
12:50 a.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS:  It really and Nice as an American kind of consuming what we get in culture had a gang land reputation. It was and that made it convenient for books and movies, but really, this view of Nice is the start of the Gold Coast, up near the Italian border and then you go down to places like the Hotel Du Cop not far there, maybe where you can spend the most on a hotel room anywhere on Earth. 

DANA KENNEDY: Most beautiful hotel in the world. Tender is the night. That’s F. Scott Fitzgerald. That's the mythical Nice and Monaco is right up the coast. That's frightening about seeing it, but at the same time, Brian, what makes me very sad when I see this and I hear this intellectual discussion, which is fair and very, very bright people, but I think of my friends and I call them of North African descent. They're Muslims, their religion is not about running people down with a bus. There’s a lot of people in France who are Muslims who are not the people Donald Trump is referencing and even the discussion of ISIS, you know, I hang out with young Muslims who are fundamentalist Muslims. They're not terrorists. They’re against ISIS. They actually work against it but you've never know it and they will tell me, the ISIS comes, they know who they recruit. They don't go to the mosques. They go to the drug deals. They go to delinquents. This guy we were finding out now, cause from friends of mine from the outskirts of Nice texted me — they texted me who he was. They said he wasn’t on La Fiche, the S-files, which is a list of containing people in France that the cops have on their radar, but he did apparently have petty crimes and that's what ISIS is, in my opinion. You know, punks and thugs and mercenaries, not real religious scholars. The guys in the mosques will tell you, they won't come to us because we know the real Islam, so it's difficult for me and not to excuse anything but my Muslim friends there get tarred with this brush and you just sort of feel like you can't defend them anymore. No one will understand. 

WILLIAMS: If your Muslim friends were here with us on this roundtable and I've been asking them what we’ve been asking people all night, what do you do? What do you do about a guy with a truck and a bad idea and — and perhaps troubles in the head? What's the solution? 

KENNEDY: You know, they don't really have one and it's frustrating to me. I'm very close with the rector of a mosque in Canne and a mosque in Marseille and what they do is actually a lot of them give courses around Europe. You don’t read about this. It's not a very sexy story, but they actually give courses training young Muslims to fight what they call Daesh or ISIS, but you really don't hear about it that much. You know, this one thug, this one guy, one 31-year-old has all the power in this one fight to do what he did. As I said, it tars everyone with the same brush. 

WILLIAMS: That's the concern, this thug and those who see what this one thug can pull off. The amount of attention we're giving this thug and those, again, God forbid driving around the streets of New York or L.A. tonight who aspire to what this thug did. 

KENNEDY: I don't think really it's all well and good to say that France can do this and France can do that. France is incredibly tough. They will survive this. This is not going to continue, even if it continues for another decade or two. They can't solve this as my friend Terry Clark said. She doesn't understand where the bloody bus came from. I don't either because the area we're talking about, Brian, I live about five minutes from it, is very closed off. I can't imagine and I would like someone to look into how that van made its way on to a place that's roped off and barricades. It makes no sense. Why didn't someone see it making its way down there?

NBDaily Foreign Policy Europe France Religion Islam Moderate Islam MSNBC Other MSNBC Video Government & Press ISIS Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Brian Williams
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