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.
Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 10, 2015
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?
- Charlie Hebdo: Moderate Muslims Must Speak Out, 12 Jan 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-ramoshorta/charlie-hebdo-moderate-mu_b_6438224.html
- Reza Aslan: Muslims are condemning terrorism, critics just aren’t listening, 11 Jan 2015, http://www.mediaite.com/online/reza-aslan-muslims-are-condemning-terrorism-critics-just-arent-listening/
- Why aren’t Muslims speaking out against Islamic State’s atrocities? 4 Sept 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/world/why-arent-muslims-speaking-out-against-islamic-states-atrocities-20140904-10cd6x.html
- Why don’t more moderate Muslims denounce extremism? 2 Jan 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/02/why-dont-more-moderate-muslims-denounce-extremism/
- Muslims are speaking out but non one is listening, 1 Oct 2014, http://www.theage.com.au/comment/muslims-are-speaking-out-but-no-one-is-listening-20140930-10nktr.html
- Moderate Muslims need to speak out, 17 Aug 2010 (showing this isn’t a recent demand), http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/moderate-muslims-needs-to-speak-out/story-e6frg6ux-1225906031871?nk=7c476b00b3f6822eb913ec2e81594082
- 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 ↩