William Youmans of CAIR (San Francisco Bay Area chapter) writes in San Francisco’s SFGate:
British officials deserve praise for their responsible remarks following the attacks in London last week. By embracing the views of Islam’s moderate majority, they steered clear of the trap American commentators often fall into — holding Islam and Muslims accountable for the acts of an extreme fringe. It is not only factually accurate to dissociate Islam from these horrendous crimes, but also an important strategic step in the war on terrorism.
Asked whether the bus and subway bomb blasts were acts of Islamic terrorism, London Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair responded that the culprits were certainly not “Islamic terrorists.” He stated that Islam and terrorism are incompatible. The commissioner echoed the sentiments of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said, “The vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims both here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this kind of terrorism every bit as much as we do.”
During a private meeting with American Muslims, Sir David Manning, British ambassador to the United States, was emphatic in distancing the London terror bombings from Islam, which he described as a faith of “peace, reconciliation and tolerance.” British officials recognize that promoting these views undermines the aims of extremist groups.
This important outlook is largely absent in political rhetoric on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, however. It is quite common to see terrorism committed by Muslims referred to as “Islamic terrorism.” Similarly, pundits and military leaders often depict Islam as a religion with members more prone to violence than others. The California National Guard recently stirred a controversy over a flyer in its offices suggesting that dipping bullets in pig’s blood and burying dead terrorists with pig entrails could be tactics in the war on terrorism. This rests on the notion that U.S. Armed Forces should demean Islam’s sacred values…
Heaven forbid we offend anyone we are at war with.
As author Karen Armstrong recently noted in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, when “incorrect statements about Islam” have such currency, it sends a negative message to its 1.3 billion practitioners worldwide. Armstrong pointed out that acts of terrorism by the Irish Republican Army were not referred to as “Catholic terrorism.” This month marks the 10th anniversary of the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, an act of barbarism that was never attributed to any religion, despite the overlap between partisan lines and religious divisions in the former Yugoslavia. Americans should likewise avoid treating Muslims who attack civilians as representatives of the entire religion…
That would be much easier to do, Mr. Youmans, if the perpetrators were not such ordinary Muslim boys.