Muslims should be doing more?

A trend following recent terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists is people demanding “moderate Muslims” speak out against the violent acts and “do more” to prevent future attacks. The people making these demands are often members of the public voicing their opinion on social media, but celebrities and media personnel have also made similar remarks.

Although most simply demand “moderate Muslims” speak out against these acts or wonder why they don’t, some go so far as to hold all Muslims responsible for the acts of a few.

These calls are not only unreasonable in expecting the diverse community of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide to apologise for the actions of a very small minority of violent criminals who proclaim to act in their name, but they also display an ignorance of the words and actions of Muslim leaders and communities around the world, who do repeatedly speak out against Muslim extremism and who are taking steps to combat extremists. A quick search reveals Muslim leaders in Australia and around the world repeatedly condemning these acts, offering condolences, and pledging unity as victims of terrorism. Examples of the responses from Muslim world leaders after the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo follow.

  • Al-Azhar (1000 year old centre of Islamic studies): referred to the attack as a criminal act, saying that “Islam denounces any violence.”
  • Arab League: “Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.”
  • Australia: Islamic organisations in Australia have condemned the actions of gunmen who massacred 12 staff at a Paris satirical magazine. They said for staff of Charlie Hebdo to depict and to mock the prophet Muhammad was offensive and against Islamic teachings, but it did not justify violence.1
  • Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris: “We denounce the odious crimes committed by the terrorists, whose criminal action endangers our willingness to live together.”
  • Hamas: “condemns the attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and insists that the difference of opinions and thoughts cannot justify murder”
  • President el-Sisi, Egypt: condemned the attack and offered his condolences to Hollande and the families of the victims and the wounded.
  • Pakistan: “Pakistan deplores terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We extend our condolences to the government and people of France on the loss of life.”
  • President Rouhani, Iran: “Violence and terrorism is reprehensible whether in this region, in Europe or in the United States… Those who kill and carry out violent and extremist acts unjustly in the name of jihad, religion or Islam provoke Islamophobia whether they wish it or not.”
  • Saudi Arabia: “…The kingdom therefore strongly condemns and denounces this cowardly terrorist act that is rejected by true Islamic religion as well as the rest of the religions and beliefs.”

(For more examples, this article lists 45 examples of Muslim outrage over the Charlie Hebdo attacks: http://www.alternet.org/media/45-examples-muslim-outrage-about-charlie-hebdo-attack-fox-news-missed)

Furthermore, when speaking about groups like Islamic State (referred to as takfiris below), Hassan Nasrallah indicates that they are a greater threat than actions taken by Charlie Hebdo:

The behavior of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies … who insulted the prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the prophet… Takfiris are the biggest threat to Islam, as a religion [and] as a message.

Although words can be cheap, Muslims are doing more than just talking. It is Muslims who are on the front lines of combating Islamic State and similar groups. For example, the armies and militia of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are predominantly Muslim, and bear the brunt of directly combating IS. Meanwhile Iran provides training, material and money to both countries to help their fight. All of these countries, plus other Islamic countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, have suffered more from the acts of Muslim extremists than any Western country.

Outside of the warzone, Islamic community leaders in Western countries run programs to counter radicalisation, and often cooperate with police and domestic law enforcement agencies.

Can Muslims do more to not only distance themselves from the acts of violent extremists but counter the attraction to extremist groups?

Further reading:

Show 1 footnote

  1. Webb C 2015, ‘Charlie Hebdo: Islamic leaders in Australia condemn Paris attacks’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Jan 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/national/charlie-hebdo-islamic-leaders-in-australia-condemn-paris-attacks-20150108-12kfq4.html

2 thoughts on “Muslims should be doing more?

  1. What sets muslim community apart is their significant indifference and sometimes support for such evil acts. For instance, last week, a popular Iranian newspaper with strong connections to the government congratulated Paris attack. Or in the case of Salman Rushdie “death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989, and as a result he was put under police protection by the British government.” There is no doubt that such behavior, in this shape, way and form, exists only among muslim community.

    • Thanks for the comment K, and apologies it took me so long to approve it and respond.

      You provide two good examples of actions by members of the Muslim community which may not be witnessed in other communities. However, although the specifics may be different, I believe non-Muslim communities are just as capable of equally evil acts. Consider the examples below.

      In 1992, during an interview discussing the sanctions on Iraq, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Madelaine Albright, was asked: ‘We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?’ To which she replied: ‘I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.’ Do you think there is a difference between this and your example of an Iranian newspaper congratulating the Paris attacks?

      In 2007, in response to an audience question about military action against Iran, Senator John McCain referenced a parody of the song ‘Barbara Ann’ when he said: “That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran.” Then, he softly sang to the melody: “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah …” The audience responded with more laughter. Would you consider making fun of bombing a country an act of evil, or at least indifference?

      Moving away from the US and state-sanctioned atrocities, a quick search online reveals the following headlines (my explanation in the dot points):

      Dalai Lama Urges Peace In Myanmar, Asks Monks To ‘Remember The Buddhist Faith’
      • He denounces the attacks on the Muslim minority by Buddhist extremists, which at that time had killed 200 and made 140,000 homeless

      Hindu nationalists are gaining power in India – and silencing enemies along the way
      • Hindu extremists campaigned against a book they found offensive to their religion
      • They burnt copies of other books and magazines
      • The list of authors who have faced ruinous lawsuits, had books banned or lives threatened in India is growing

      10 of the Worst Terror Attacks by Extreme Christians and Far-Right White Men
      • Subtitle is: Most of the terrorist activity in the U.S. in recent years has come not from Muslims, but from radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.

      How an Extremist Buddhist Network Is Sowing Hatred Across Asia
      • Buddhist monks have been instrumental in anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka

      And just to show violence is not restricted to religion or ethnicity:

      Domestic violence: the ‘silent epidemic’ claiming the life of one woman every eight days
      • On average a woman somewhere in Australia is murdered by her partner every eight days.

      You’re 55 Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist
      • US statistics on police-caused murders

      We must be aware that because of the geopolitical battles of the Middle East, the actions of Muslims around the world are constantly highlighted by media. This can not only provide us with a distorted perception, enlarging the role of Muslims, but also ignores or downplays actions carried out by non-Muslims around the world. This does not mean the actions we see carried out my Muslims do not have parallels in other communities.

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