Twitterstorm: Tarek Fatah vs. Talib Kweli on Islam and racism

U.S. rapper calls out Canadian columnist as a ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacist’ after series of disturbing tweets
Photo: Jesse Gonzalez

A little after nine this morning, Tarek Fatah, a Toronto columnist and radio host who has parlayed his own Islamic faith into a cottage industry getting away with saying appallingly racist things about Arabs and Muslims, took a shot at U.S. rapper Talib Kweli on Twitter.

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It was the type of trolling Fatah is known for, interjecting himself into a conversation about Islam and using his own adherence to the religion to take pot shots at its followers. But the heated exchange that followed, and led Kweli to accuse Fatah of racism and white supremacy, is not something you see every day.

Kweli is a legendary rapper, but he’s become better known for his social conscience in recent years, raising $100,000 to help Ferguson protesters cover legal bills, and joining an anti-TPP concert tour this summer. Although Kweli is not Muslim, he often challenges how Muslims are portrayed, stereotyped and subjected to racist abuse on Twitter.

He soon responded to Fatah’s trolling, and from there the whole thing quickly descended into a farce, at least on the part of Fatah, who unleashed a series of tweets that Kweli and others described as “racist” and “white supremacist,” starting with a tweet that called Kweli “boy.”

Fatah soon descended into hurling invectives with clear racial overtones.

This went on for hours. Then Kweli tweeted an excerpt from an opinion piece published by Ricochet in 2014 by two Afghan-Canadian women who had been branded “Taliban supporters,” “Jihadists” and “Islamists” by Fatah. The women sued, and Fatah’s employers at Sun Media settled out of court, releasing a statement acknowledging factual errors in the reporting. That statement concluded, “You have represented to us that neither of you are Taliban supporters, Islamists or Jihadis, and we accept your word on this.”

Fatah did not answer questions about that case, and soon after moved on to other topics.

The responses to Kweli’s tweets were also littered with racism, which Kweli attributed to Fatah’s tacit encouragement.

The last word goes to Bina Shah:

Editors' note (added August 25 at 11:24 a.m. EST): It should be obvious that the the twitter user quoted above to illustrate the racism directed at Kweli with the handle "Rabbi Jew Goldstein" is likely neither a rabbi nor Jewish. The account has a long history of directing racist abuse towards other users.
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