By Robert Mann
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s uninformed, now-debunked statements in London about Muslim no-go zones has drawn widespread news media attention. Turns out, when pressed for examples of such zones, Jindal could not offer specifics other than one article in the Daily Mail.
Now, even the Daily Mail is reporting that the no-go zones allegations that Jindal read in its paper were false.
Just as curious, however, was Jindal’s statement about the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks and other violence by radical Muslims. In his London speech, he asserted “we need Muslim leaders to denounce the individuals, not just the acts of violence.”
The problem is that Muslim leaders around the world have strongly denounced such violence for years. I’m not sure how Jindal could have possibly missed this unless, of course, if he did not care to look.
As he proved when challenged about his false assertion, Jindal isn’t interested in the facts. He is interested, however, in trafficking in fear and bigotry. The idea that Muslim leaders refuse to condemn violence is just as false and nonsensical as Jindal’s allegations about no-go zones.
It’s a well-known fact that Muslim leaders around the world have forcefully denounced violent acts by radical Muslims since before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Jindal’s suggestion that they have not is not only false; it is clearly an effort to slander the Muslim faith.
Jindal implies that because Muslim leaders refuse to speak out against violence, all Muslims are complicit with terrorism and violence. In doing so, Jindal cynically foments Islamophobia. To quote Jindal: “Islam has a problem.”
Perhaps the Muslim faith would have a problem if 99.99 percent of its adherents weren’t peaceful people of faith. Perhaps the Muslim faith would have a problem if most of the prominent Muslim leaders in the West hadn’t been denouncing terrorism and violence in the name of Islam for decades.
Islam doesn’t have a problem with violence any more than Indian-American politicians have a problem with ignorance and bigotry. In this case, only one Indian-American politician is acting like a bigot.
Jindal doesn’t care about Islam. He cares about leveraging the fear of Islam to advance his presidential aspirations.
But back to Jindal’s slur of Muslim leaders. A simple Google search would reveal to Jindal or his staff that his suggestions about the silence of Muslim leaders are manifestly false. Jindal, however, appears to be about as adapt as using Google as U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise.
Were he to search the web, here’s some of what Jindal would find:
France’s Muslim leadership sharply condemned the shooting at a Paris satirical weekly that left at least 12 people dead as a “barbaric” attack and an assault on press freedom and democracy, AFP reports Wednesday.
“This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press,” the French Muslim Council (CFCM) said in a statement.
The body represents France’s Muslim community, which is Europe’s biggest and estimated to number between 3.5 million and five million people.
Muslims in France and around the world banded together on Wednesday to strongly condemn the deadliest terror attack the country has seen in the past two decades.
Three masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that has become notorious for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. One of the men reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” as they unleashed a barrage of bullets that left at least twelve dead.
Muslim leaders and activists immediately denounced the terrorists actions, reiterating the verse in the Quran that tells Muslims when one kills just one innocent person, it is as if he has killed all of humanity.
The Grand Mosque of Paris, one of the largest in France, issued a statement on its website shortly after the attacks, saying its community was “shocked” and “horrified” by the violence.
We strongly condemn these kind of acts and we expect the authorities to take the most appropriate measures. Our community is stunned by what just happened. It’s a whole section of our democracy that is seriously affected. This is a deafening declaration of war. Times have changed, and we are now entering a new era of confrontation.
The Union of Islamic Organizations of France also responded on its website, writing: “The UOIF condemns in the strongest terms this criminal attack, and these horrible murders. The UOIF expresses its deepest condolences to the families and all the employees of Charlie Weekly.”
Hours after two policemen and 10 others were killed Wednesday in a shooting at the Paris offices of French satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo — an apparent attack by Islamic militants — moderate Muslims have taken to Twitter to condemn the killings and deny any association between their faith and that of Islamic extremists.
“All day today, I’ve seen tweets and press releases from Muslim leaders from across the world, and Muslim religious institutions, condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks. They’re not really obliged to, in my opinion,” H.A. Hellyer, a nonresident fellow with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, told International Business Times in an email. “We haven’t seen the calls for Buddhists worldwide, for example, to condemn radical Buddhists in Myanmar.” . . .
Some moderate Muslims reacting on Twitter are using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie – which translates to “I am Charlie” — to condemn the attack. Some are outraged over what they see as an assault on free speech; others are concerned Muslims will be linked to an attack committed by extremists and become the target of discrimination.
So, allow me to do some of the legwork for the media… And present examples of Muslim outrage about the Paris shooting.
Let’s start with organizations, like CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has, according to Fox, kept its mouth shut. Somehow they managed to get out this statement.
1. CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations: We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.
We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law.
2. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim: When we study Islam, we see clearly that the Quran condemns this kind of violence categorically. That Prophet Muhammad said that a Muslim is one from whom all others are safe…. This is not about religion. This is about political power, this is about uneducated, ignorant youth who are being manipulated by clerics and extremists. And this is why it’s all the more important for us, as the moderates, regardless of faith, to stay united and combat this.
3. Muslim Council of Britain: The Muslim Council of Britain condemns this attack. Whomever the attackers are, and whatever the cause may be, nothing justifies the taking of life. . . . Dr. Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “Nothing justifies the taking of life. Those who have killed in the name of our religion today claim to be avenging the insults made against Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. But nothing is more immoral, offensive and insulting against our beloved Prophet than such a callous act of murder. Our thoughts, prayers and solidarity go to the families of the victims and the people of France.”
4. French Muslim Council (CFCM): “This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press.” It also called on “all those committed to the values of the Republic and democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to throw oil on the fire,” and on French Muslims to “exercise the utmost vigilance against possible manipulations from extremist groups.
5. Union of Islamic Organizations of France(UOIF): “The UOIF condemns in the strongest terms possible these criminal attacks and horrible deaths. The UOIF offers its condolences to the families and all employees of Charlie Hebdo.”
6. Arab League [a regional organization representing 22 Arab countries, all of which have a majority Muslim population]: “Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.”
7. Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association:“The sanctity of human life is central to our faith. That lives could taken in this manner for any cause is appalling and unjustifiable.”
Muslims pray each day: “O Lord! Keep us on the straight path.” It is a prayer to help us move away from the extremes and maintain balance in our lives. We must neither be hostage to our reactionary instincts, nor must we remain completely silent in the face of the systematic defamation of our values and beliefs. This balance has been upset by the violent response to the insults targeting the legacy of beloved Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). The violent response was wrong and strayed from the straight path. . .
If suicide bombers are the first things that come to people’s minds, how could they have a positive opinion of Islam? How is killing innocent civilians indiscriminately different from the barbarity suffered by Muslims in history? What is the rationale behind attacking an American consulate in Libya, killing an ambassador and consulate officers, who have nothing to do with this wretched movie? If it is Muslims who are carrying out these attacks, it means that they are entirely unaware of what Islam is all about and are committing the biggest crime in the name of Islam.
A Muslim must always be straightforward and consistent in his actions and words. He should respect the sacred values of Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others as he expects his own religion and values to be respected. In reacting, a Muslim should not sway from the proper middle path. Many correct forms of response can be found by appealing to the collective conscience of society and to the international community.
Hate speech designed to incite violence is an abuse of the freedom of expression. It violates the rights, dignity and freedoms of others while pushing humanity towards conflict in an age of horrifying weapons. Instead of falling victim to the instigation of others, we should appeal to the relevant international institutions, such as the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation or the UN, to intervene, expose and condemn instances of hate speech. We can do whatever it takes within the law to prevent any disrespect to all revered religious figure, not only to the Prophet Mohammed.
More than two dozen Muslim American clerics and community leaders condemned Islamic terrorism at a crowded news conference in the District on Wednesday, denouncing the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and calling on young Muslim Americans to resist the appeal of jihadist ideology.
The leaders, who were joined by several officials from the Department of Homeland Security, stressed that the great majority of Muslim Americans are loyal and peaceful citizens. They vowed to cooperate with law enforcement officials and to work to dissuade Muslim youths from following violent jihadi paths.
“Young people, please do not listen to this ideology,” said Mohammed Magid Dar, director of the All Dulles American Muslim Society in Sterling, Va., the largest mosque in the Washington region. “If someone asks you to join this cult or this group, resist the slogans that promise justice but carry out injustice.”
Two of the leading voices in the Muslim world denounced the persecution of Christians in Iraq, at the hands of extremists proclaiming a caliphate under the name Islamic State.
The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims.
In a statement, he officially denounced the “forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” The Secretary General also distanced Islam from the actions of the militant group known as ISIS, saying they “have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”
Finally, here’s some of what Media Matters has reported about the statements of Muslim leaders on the Islamic State (ISIL).
Arab League: “Strongly Denounced” The “Crimes Against Humanity” Carried Out By The Islamic State. On August 11, Nabil al-Arabi, the Arab League Chief, denounced acts committed by the Islamic State in Iraq as “crimes against humanity,” demanding that they be brought to justice. According to Al Arabiya News, he said in a statement that he “strongly denounced the crimes, killings, dispossession carried out by the terrorist (ISIS) against civilians and minorities in Iraq that have affected Christians in Mosul and Yazidis.” [Al Arabiya News, 8/11/14]
Turkey’s Top Cleric: Islamic State’s Threats Are “Hugely Damaging,” “Truly Awful.” Turkey’s highest ranking cleric, Mehmet Gormez, decried the Islamic State’s declaration of a “caliphate” and argued that the statements were damaging to the Muslim community, according to Reuters:
“Such declarations have no legitimacy whatsoever,” Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, which, although a majority Muslim country, has been a secular state since the 1920s.
“Since the caliphate was abolished … there have been movements that think they can pull together the Muslim world by re-establishing a caliphate, but they have nothing to do with reality, whether from a political or legal perspective.”
Gormez said death threats against non-Muslims made by the group, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were hugely damaging.
“The statement made against Christians is truly awful. Islamic scholars need to focus on this (because) an inability to peacefully sustain other faiths and cultures heralds the collapse of a civilization,” he told Reuters in an interview. [Reuters, 7/22/14]
CAIR Repeatedly Condemned The Islamic State As “Un-Islamic And Morally Repugnant.” In a July 7 statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the terrorist group “un-Islamic and morally repugnant,” noted that the Islamic State’s “human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented,” and called on other Muslim community leaders to speak out against the violence. CAIR reiterated the condemnation of the Islamic State as “both un-Islamic and morally repugnant” on August 11, and on August 21, CAIR once again condemned the group, calling the killing of American journalist James Foley “gruesome and barbaric”:
We strongly condemn this gruesome and barbaric killing as a violation of Islamic beliefs and of universally-accepted international norms mandating the protection of prisoners and journalists during conflicts.
The Geneva Conventions, the Quran – Islam’s revealed text – and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad all require that prisoners not be harmed in any way. There can be no excuse or justification for such criminal and bloodthirsty actions.
We also call on those holding Steven Sotloff and other prisoners to immediately release them unharmed so they may return to their loved ones. [Council on American-Islamic Relations,7/7/14; Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/11/14; Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/20/14]
The Muslim Council Of Great Britain: “Violence Has No Place In Religion.” The Muslim Council of Great Britain condemned the Islamic State’s actions and expressed that they do not represent Sunni Muslims, according to The Independent. Shuja Shafi, a member of the council also said: “Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction.” [The Independent, 7/11/14]