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As their murderous attacks in the Middle East continue, the world is finding out that ISIS is not representative of Islam. The group launched another murderous suicide bomber strike only days after the attack in Iraq's Karrada area which claimed over 300 lives -- the deadliest single attack in Iraq since the war to oust Saddam Hussein 13 years ago.

The attack on Thursday at the Sayyed Mohammad Shrine in the town of Balad was poised to be just as deadly as the Karrada attack. However, thanks to a selfless Muslim hero, the death toll was far less.

According to local news sources, Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi – a local resident of Balad, physically stopped the suicide bomber from entering the shrine before he detonated his suicide vest, killing them both in the process.

According to Al-Manar news, the attack was “aimed at destroying the shrine.” However, Najih physically stopped the terrorist from entering the shrine, hugging him before his explosive-laden vest detonated, killing them. Najih's body took direct impact of the explosion, drastically reducing the death toll.

According to a Joint Operations spokesman in Iraq, the attack caused 70 injuries. Instead of hundreds dying, only 37 were killed because of the heroic actions of a single Muslim man. The idea of a Muslim man saving lives by fighting ISIL extremism is damning to the Islamophobic narrative pushed by certain sects of the mainstream and some in the alternative media as well. Islam, the close-minded bigots will have you believe, is a religion of death and destruction. However, that statement couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the ones causing the death and destruction are clearly no more Islamic than Donald Trump is a Muslim. As Claire Bernish points out,

For nearly perfect evidence of this fact, consider how many brutal massacres occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — a period of spiritual reflection, peace, and restraint during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and are encouraged more than ever to refrain from behavior that would be considered sinful. Islam, as many major religions, already teaches peace as a rule — and the Qur’an states that killing one person would be akin to slaying all of humanity. Yet the so-called Islamic State has slaughtered thousands over the two years since it declared itself a caliphate — and Ramadan certainly didn’t halt its murderous rampage.

The only stories on Muslims in the U.S. that make it on to the mainstream are those that stoke divide. When a Muslim hero saves hundreds of lives by jumping on a bomb, the mainstream and the Islamophobic alternative media is mum. Those who would judge 1.6 billion people by the actions of just a few are creating a narrative in which innocent lives are put in danger. Throughout history, most mainstream religions have perpetuated extreme violence upon the world. To attempt to paint Islam as the problem is no better than labeling all Catholics murders for the inquisition. But peace and empathy are enemies to the establishment who need you to hate others. When the establishment can paint things as black and white, it is easier for you to be controlled. Consequently, this is the exact mission of ISIS. As the Free Thought Project's Jay Syrmopolous points out, if there is one thing that Islamic fundamentalists and Islamophobic fascists like Trump agree on, it's that there should be no "gray zone;"only black and white. The gray zone is the zone of peaceful coexistence. Eliminating the gray zone - and rendering a world as black & white as the flag of the Islamic state is the ultimate goal of fundamentalists on all sides. In fact, a recent ISIS publication, titled Extinction of the Grayzone made clear that the strategy has been at play for the past 14 years.

"The grayzone is critically endangered, rather on the brink of extinction. It’s endangerment began with the blessed operation of September 11th, as these operations manifested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam… and a camp of kufr – the crusader coalition."

These are the same sentiments expressed by George W. Bush when he infamously said,

"Either you are with us or with the terrorists."

Now, the terrorists and the demagogues in the West are getting closer to their goal of divide and conquer than ever before.

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We are witnessing Muslims being thrown off of buses because of ignorant passengers fearing for their lives. We see physical assaults waged by fearful pawns in ISIS's propaganda campaign against peaceful Muslims, who've harmed no one.

Since the Paris attacks alone, there have been dozens of anti-Muslim attacks in the United States. These attacks range from rubbing human feces and leaving pigs heads outside of mosques, to beating and even killing people for their religion.

If you are willing to harass, hurt, or kill an innocent person because of their religion, you are no better than ISIS.

You are also hurting the fight against terrorism.

According to recent polls and studies conducted in the last few years, Muslims have been crucial in helping law enforcement find terror suspects in the United States. Many have served in the military protecting the country against terrorists. And, many Muslims have been highly outspoken against terrorist organizations.

Last December, 70,000 clerics came together, representing the majority of the Muslim world and publicly denounced ISIS as a threat to humanity.

Also, a Duke University study found more terrorism suspects and perpetrators were brought to the attention of law enforcement by members of the Muslim-American community than were discovered through U.S. government investigations. And a Pew survey found that roughly half of U.S. Muslims say their religious leaders aren't speaking out enough against Islamic extremism, reports CNN.

The way to truly defeat ISIS is by rendering their fear and divisive tactics impotent. The US needs to show ISIS, and those being manipulated by their tactics, like Donald Trump, that tolerance and freedom are far more powerful than bigotry and hate.

Also, Americans will do well to remember how it was that ISIS came to be in the first place, and avoid future murderous blunders that will inevitably fill the ranks of extremist groups with even more susceptible victims of Western foreign policy.

You can bow down to the will of ISIS by allowing their hate-filled rhetoric and divisive tactics to cloud your mind with fear and hatred. Or, you can rise up and stand against those who would drive a wedge through the heart of humankind. The choice is yours.

[author title="" image=""]Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Follow @MattAgorist[/author]