MSNBC contributor and political analyst Mehdi Hasan criticized the release of Kyle Rittenhouse in a column on Monday, while insinuating he would not have been if he were Muslim.
“On Friday, Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of killing two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, posted his $2 million bail,” Hasan wrote. “My first reaction: Imagine if Rittenhouse was Muslim.”
“Imagine if the 17-year-old’s name was not Kyle Rittenhouse but, say, Khalid Rehman. Would people be hailing him as a hero, a martyr or even ‘my president’?” Hasan continued.
“Would the MyPillow guy or the kid from ‘Silver Spoons’ have helped crowdsource Khalid’s $2 million bail? Would his mother be treated sympathetically as a guest on Fox News? Would conservative news anchors be praising him for maintaining ‘order’? Would a Republican lawmaker be urging him to run for office? Would President Donald Trump have defended him from a White House podium?” Hasan added.
“Don’t be ridiculous; we all know the same conservatives celebrating Rittenhouse would be falling over one another to ask one provocative question after another.”
On Friday, Lin Wood, Rittenhouse’s attorney, announced that his client had been released from jail following payment of a $2 million cash bail. He is set to stand trial for two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for shooting and killing two attackers while wounding a third during riots in Kenosha, Wis., in late August.
Rioting and looting erupted in the city after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot by a Kenosha police officer as he reached into his vehicle and appeared to be going for a knife.
A viral video posted online the night of the shootings shows Rittenhouse being chased down and attacked by several people. One man struck the teen in the back of the head while another kicks him. A third rioter struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard before being shot and killed.
Wood maintains that Rittenhouse was merely defending himself. An 11-minute video produced by Wood’s office about a month after the shootings appears to substantiate his claim that his client fired in self-defense.
One of the victims, Joseph Rosenbaum, was shot and killed while he was chasing Rittenhouse. The video indicates that the teen only fired after a gunshot nearby, likely thinking that Rosenbaum was the one who fired it.
A criminal complaint obtained by the New York Post in mid-October says police charged Joshua Ziminksi, 35, after he and his wife “both admitted” to police detectives that he “fired off a ‘warning shot’ into the air” during the August 25 protests.
“What I saw was [the shooting “victim”] pursuing Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse turned around. Right before he turned around, I’m not sure if this is the reason he turned around, but there was a gunshot. That’s actually visible on video,” Daily Caller reporter Richie McGinniss, who witnessed the shootings, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
But Mahdi, in his column, insinuated that Rittenhouse behaved the way he did because he was “radicalized.”
“Where was he radicalized? Was he groomed by a preacher of hate? How did his family or friends not know? Why won’t his community leaders speak out and denounce him? Does his faith encourage violence?” Mahdi wrote.
“There’s no question that in today’s America, a Khalid (or a Mohamed or an Ismail) would be demonized, not defended; pilloried, not praised. There would be no celebratory murals for a Khalid, only montages of grainy video of Middle Eastern men firing guns in the air.”
Others, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), have labeled Rittenhouse a ‘white supremacist,’ though all of the people he wounded or killed were white.
Does anyone believe Rittenhouse would be released if he were Muslim & did the same thing in a diff context? For people who say “systemic racism doesn’t exist,” this is what it looks like: protection of white supremacy baked deep into our carceral systems.
Law and disorder.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 21, 2020
Users reacted to Mahdi’s question: ‘What if Rittenhouse were Muslim?’
He would be my favorite Muslim.
— REZ (@rezpublika) November 24, 2020
Nobody would have a problem with a Muslim defending him or herself from a mob. Nobody. That’s the real issue.
— Charles Martel (@Hammert13065731) November 24, 2020
Muslim attacked at BLM protest by three white felons. Clear case of self defense.
— Redrufus4u (@Redrufus4u) November 24, 2020
We don’t have roaming groups in multiple cities burning/targeting Islamic businesses, right? So we can’t exactly compare. IF we did. It’d still be self defense.
— Scott (@Lowbird00) November 24, 2020
He would be your hero then.
— PoliticallyIncorrect (@gunnytweets) November 24, 2020