Recently, an article appeared in the Anglo press about Muslim condemnations of terror attacks (Max Fisher, “A very simple explanation of why it's wrong to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism”, vox, November 21, 2015). The article suggests that Americans don’t perceive Islamic terror the way Israelis perceive it.
On November 13, 2015, an ISIS attack in Paris, France killed 130 and wounded hundreds more. After the attack, some Americans wanted to see Muslims condemn it (Max Fisher, ibid). Muslims didn’t answer the call. They didn’t storm into the streets to protest against ISIS.
People noticed. In Paris, the site of the attack, many expected mass Muslim protests against ISIS. Paris is home to 1.8 million Muslims. An anti-ISIS protest should have attracted thousands from the ‘religion of peace’. But only 30 Muslims showed up (“Paris: 30 Muslims out of 1.8 mil in the city turn up to protest terrorism”, themuslimissue, November 17, 2015).
This lack of Muslim interest to stand up against ISIS isn’t unique to Paris. It’s happened before. When ISIS atrocities in 2014 shocked the world, few Muslims came out to protest. For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan—which has a population of 200,000 Muslims—only 50 went to protest ISIS (Tziv Ben-Gedalyahu, “A Grand Total of 50 Muslims in Michigan Condemn ISIS”, Jewishpress, August 29, 2014). Through 2015, ISIS brutality has provoked very few Muslim protests--anywhere.
Some Americans wonder: why don’t Muslims protest atrocities committed by their co-religionists? Wouldn’t adherents of a ‘religion of peace’ want to show they stood for peace, not terror?
That question provokes anger. On what basis, some Muslims ask, am I answerable for the actions of others who claim my creed? (Justin Glyn “On blaming Muslims for Paris”, eurekastreet, November 18, 2015).
On US TV, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd set out to explore that very question. He invited a woman named Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim and, Todd said, an expert on Muslim attitudes in the US (Fisher, ibid). He asked her about American leaders who had demanded that more Muslim leaders come out to condemn ISIS. Mogahed didn’t respond by declaring that Muslim leaders were condemning ISIS (as we saw some do after the San Bernadino, California attack on December 3, 2015). She made her own demand: we need to stop demanding that Muslims condemn terrorism.
She argued that one could not justify such a demand. Her reason was simple. The majority of terrorist attacks in the US, according to the FBI, she said, were committed by white, male Christians (ibid). When those terrorists kill, she said, we don't suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning their actions. We don’t ask Christians to stand up to condemn them. We assume these attacks outrage Christian leaders just as much as they do anyone else.
Therefore, she concluded, we have to afford this same assumption of innocence to Muslims. Essayist Fisher (above) agrees with her. He sees any demand that Muslim leaders condemn ISIS as some kind of bigoted ritual (ibid). It’s bigotry because, Fisher says, it implies that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by any Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion. He claimed it’s a form of blaming an entire group for the actions of a few individuals (ibid).
I disagree with Fisher. The reason Western man would ask Muslims to condemn ISIS is not because the West is bigoted towards Muslims. The West makes this request because Islamic ISIS terrorists claim they kill in the name of Islam. All the West wants to know from its Muslim friends is, are these terror attacks truly a part of Islam, or just ISIS?
To express shock that one would be asked that question is to dodge the question. That dodge suggests one doesn’t want to answer the question.
What’s wrong with the question? When white Christians in the US commit terror attacks they don’t do so while exclaiming, ‘Jesus is Great!’ They don’t exclaim, in the middle of their attack, that they kill in the name of Christianity. That’s why no one asks Christian leaders to denounce the attacks. The killers themselves don’t connect ‘killing’ with ‘Christianity’.
But Muslim terrorists do make such exclamations. They do connect ‘killing’ with ‘Islam’. Why wouldn’t we want to hear from Islam’s leaders?
When Islamic terror happens, you almost always see two things occur. First, the terrorists declare they kill in the name of Islam. Second, few Islamic leaders denounce those attacks.
What does that suggest?
In Israel, we don’t have such questions. In Israel, Islamic religious leaders do speak out. They are as clear as the killers.
Is Islam in America different from Islam in the Middle East?