Following terrorist events, Muslims are often called on to denounce terrorism. The asumption is that unless Muslims explicitly and publicly say they oppose terror as much as everyone else, they support it. Even Liberal Christopher Pyne recently said such demands should not be made on the Muslim community because in and of itself “demanding” implies that Muslims do not want to denounce terrorist acts, despite the fact that they consistently do.
Worldwide, Muslims are most likely to be victims of terrorist attacks by groups such as Daesh. In western countries, Muslims are just as likely as anyone else to be killed. There have been Muslim victims in every major western terror attack, including in New York, Madrid, London, Paris and Nice.
President of the new anti-Muslim political party, Australian Liberty Alliance, Debbie Robinson made the idea that Muslims support terror explicit, declaring Muslim leaders should, “Remove any doubt, show your allegiance lies with Australia and not fundamental Islam.” This demand is not made on any other group who come from the same religious or racial background as non-Muslims who commit shocking crimes. This article sums up the problem with these calls.
In a statement that marked a new low point in political commentary, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott took this even further when he insinuated Muslims who condemned terrorism were not genuine, saying “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”
Nevertheless, many Muslims do wish to distance themselves from crimes committed by people declaring they have done so in the name of Islam. But as Rabbi Marc Schneier writes, this condemnation rarely gets reported. A Voices against Bigotry member wrote to us:
I wanted to ask for help in getting my community’s message across to the wider public. I am from the Muslim community of Brisbane. We are all so saddened and shocked by what has happened in Paris, and what has been taking place all over the world. However we do not know how to show this to the wider Australian public.
About a year ago when the whole isis crisis came about our community held a large protest in the city. We wanted to show Australia that Muslims denounce terrorism and that we want to live in a safe place like everyone else. However our efforts were in vain, as the media coverage did not say that it was Muslims protesting against terrorism. It simply said that there was a protest against terrorism, the only way you could tell that it was Muslims was from one of the pictures which showed women wearing hijab.
My Islamic center organised a large blood drive less than a month ago to highlight the need for standing up against oppression and injustices such as what we are all facing now. So many Muslim’s participated and it was really successful however again no one knew about it. After the attack on Paris the Muslim Hazara community of Brisbane held a candlelight vigil to show their solidarity with the victims of Paris. However there was no media coverage I think because they did not organise it.
The terrorist attacks in France came shortly after an attack in Lebanon that killed 44 people and injured more than 200. Many more would have died if Muslim father Adel Termos had not sacrificed his own life to tackle a second suicide bomber. After these attacks, Muslim political and religious leaders and ordinary Muslims joined others in condemning the atrocities. Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, said “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and people of Paris and Beirut at this time of unspeakable horror. We will continually stand united in peace with them against such heinous acts of cowardice.” Other condemnations are reported in the articles below:
Waleed Aly from television show The Project summed up why unity between Muslims and non-Muslims is more important than ever in this clip that has gone viral with over 28 million views, arguing that terrorists want to divide us. He shows how extreme right-wing groups that advocate reprisal attacks on Muslims in western countries are actually doing exactly what the terrorists want them to do.
Voices against Bigotry urges Australians of all backgrounds to reject these sentiments and instead unite against extremism whatever form it takes. Unfortunately, as this excellent article by Susan Carland argues, it sees many people do not care about the facts when it comes to their perception about Muslims and terrorism.
Other condemnations of terror by Muslims
- Australian Muslim community representatives condemn Orlando killings
- US Muslims condemn Orlando killings
- 50 Million Muslims Start Peace Campaign and Openly Denounce ISIS
- Muslim Americans denounce ISIS terror campaign; urge Americans to stand in solidarity and peace with them
- The National Imams Consultative Forum is a group of over 20 Imams from all over Australia representing different Islamic schools of thought. In 2013, it issued the following communique:
In addition to the requirements of Australian law, the religious obligations of Islam provide that it is an individual and collective obligation for all citizens and residents of Australia to protect life and property in Australia against violence or harm.
- In 2015, it issued a detailed statement on: Citizenship, Abiding by the Terms of Contract, Australian Law and Shari’ah, Fatwa, Takfir, Treatment of Non-Muslims, Caliphate, Rebellion, Slavery, Jihad, Suicide and Fighting in Overseas Conflicts. The full statement can be read at:
- Examples of Australian Muslims denouncing terror can be found in this article http://www.theage.com.au/comment/muslims-are-speaking-out-but-no-one-is-listening-20140930-10nktr.html
- Fatwas, rulings and authoritative statements against terrorism in Islam can be found at http://nceis.unimelb.edu.au/about/projects/national_imams_consultative_forum/fatwa_and_rulings_against_terrorism_in_islam
- British Muslims have started a social media campaign against the abuse of Islam by ISIS http://www.isisnotinmyname.com/
- During a 2015 terrorist attack, Tunisian Muslims protected non-Muslims
- In November 2015, a Muslim father died, but saved hundreds of other lives when he tackled a suicide bomber in Beirut
- During terror attacks in Paris, Muslims have risked their lives to save others