Parvez Ahmed of CAIR complains in the Seattle Times (thanks to Peter Rockas) that his religion is misunderstood, and that he gets hate mail (sometime I’ll have to show you my email box, Parvez):
Each round of beheading brings with it condemnations from Muslim groups, both in America and abroad. Muslim groups keep condemning the brutal acts of terror, partly because it is the right thing to do but also partly to protect their community from backlash.
Each condemnation from Muslim groups is inevitably preceded by bone-chilling hate mail from people who, like the terrorists, hide behind anonymity. It is almost mind-numbing to think that both groups believe God is on their side.
Islam does not teach such wanton violence no matter what the level of grievance is for the aggrieved. There is no doubt that Iraqis and Chechens have a lot to be angry about. They have not just paid in blood but in lost human dignity. But their legitimate grievances do not justify the illegitimate and barbaric acts of beheading innocent souls and planting bombs in schools.
The fact that many, if not most, Americans view Islam as the enemy is not surprising. This unfortunate view is perhaps a reaction to the actions of a deranged group of Muslims who kill indiscriminately, contrary to Islam’s central message of sanctifying and purifying life.
But equally undeniable is the fact that current attitudes toward Islam are a result of generations of ignorance about a world religion, which the West has demonized for too long and thus finds itself ill-prepared to understand, much less deal with the legitimate aspirations of its many adherents.
This misunderstanding is also at the heart of repeated demands made to the American-Muslim community to condemn every gruesome act that takes place overseas. It is not enough that all major American-Muslim groups condemned the 9/11 terrorist attacks less than three hours after the planes hit the first tower. It is not enough that a major American-Muslim group took out an ad in The Washington Post condemning terror. It is not enough that each gruesome act that shocked Americans “” from the murder of Daniel Pearl to the bombing of a seder party to the beheading of Nick Berg to the massacre in Beslan “” has equally shocked Muslims and brought swift and unequivocal condemnations. It is not enough that an online petition, “Not in the Name of Islam,” garnered over 700,000 signatories.
What do repeated condemnations achieve anyway? They have not satisfied our many detractors and more importantly they have failed to make any impression on the terrorists. Does someone legitimately believe that a faceless, stateless and mindless group of people will be swayed by intellectual appeals to reason?
Well, sir, one reason why these condemnations are not satisfactory either to your “detractors” or to the terrorists is because they fail utterly to address the Islamic justifications that buttress the terrorists’ actions. You go on to ask rhetorically: “If bone-chilling cries of a helpless and defenseless human being moves nothing in their souls, what meaning do words from sacred texts have for them?”
Actually, sir, I think that words from sacred texts, if they really refute the terrorists’ own words from the same sacred texts, are likely to move them more than the bone-chilling cries of a helpless and defenseless human being. Why? Because they have repeatedly declared that they are working from those sacred texts: that those sacred texts command them to do such things to helpless and defenseless human beings. The problem is not that they won’t listen to sacred texts. The problem is that they are listening so hard to sacred texts that command such actions. Your own “words from sacred texts” don’t refute their own arguments from the same texts, and that, sir, is the real reason why your attempts are ineffective.
I have yet to see a “moderate Muslim” even attempt to confront and refute the real Islamic arguments that terrorists use to justify their actions. Mr. Ahmed, why don’t you be the first?
Among the root causes are perceptions that U.S. policy turns a blind eye to the legitimate aspirations of Muslims who desire to live in freedom “” with dignity, and in control of their own destiny. Our continued support of brutal dictatorships, even as we toppled one, have a lot to do with the current rage.
Muslim societies also need to be introspective of their socio-political-religious structures and examine how the situation evolved to a point that life has lost all its meaning. Blaming America first is not going to absolve them of their own shortcomings.
Indeed. Nor are hollow claims that appeals to Islam won’t move these men whose whole lives are, by their own account, based on Islamic principles. Why don’t you confront those principles, Mr. Ahmed?