Zoe Shaw (Editor-in-Chief)
What do you think of when you hear the word “terrorism”? If you thought of the Middle East, of men wearing turbans, and of women wearing burqas, you might need to rethink your worldviews. Since I am not Muslim myself, I thought it would be best to talk to someone who is. My friend wishes to remain anonymous, but he is glad to spread his views on the topic.
Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I am a very liberal Shiite Muslim. I do pray but not regularly, and I drink alcohol and eat bacon. My parents are from Iran, but I was born here. My father is a devout Muslim. Most of my extended family is deeply religious.
Q: Why do you think people are so quick to associate Islam with violence?
A: Our opinions on everything, our convictions, and our beliefs are directly connected to our culture and society. In Western culture, a relatively slim woman is considered beautiful. Yet, in Jamaica, it is overweight women who are considered beautiful. And what propagates our culture? The media. So, the messages you are given by the TV your whole life will inevitably have some part to play in your perception of things. Ever since the tragic day of September 11th 2001, the media needed to find someone to blame. You see, people will rally behind their hatred of someone. A fundamental way of getting people to unite is to make them feel threatened by another group, and the media did just that. It played to Americans’ fear and
nationalism by making them feel threatened by another group they could blame all their problems on. But when all you hear about Muslims in the media involves terrorism, whether you realize it or not, you begin to make a connection between Muslims and terrorists.
Q: Explain why you feel this connection is unjustified.
A: I’d be willing to bet my mother’s heart to a cannibalistic devil worshipper that this connection between Islam and terrorism is unjustified. In a world as populated as ours, there is bound to be some people of any group who resort to such barbarism. In the case of the world’s second biggest religion, this number is evidently going to be higher than something like Taoism. The only difference between Christian terrorists and Muslim terrorists is that the
latter are more popular to discuss in the media. Someone once told me that there was no big outcry from Muslims after 9/11. Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean Muslims are not horrified at such atrocities. More importantly, when YOU (Western citizens, White people, Christians) answer for the pools of blood of men, women, children, babies left in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition, the near-eradication of Native American culture, slavery, the World Wars, the Holocaust, the Atomic Bombs, the war in Bosnia, the dead Afghani, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians, the dead abortion clinic doctors, and so much more, then, I will consider answering for 9/11.
And there you have it. But how does one think critically if the news doesn’t provide the right answers?
Read. Talk to people who are Muslim. Take a class on worldviews. Use your logic.
Start by taking this into consideration: Out of the 1.57 billion Muslims in the world, about 36,000 are Taliban and under 10,000 are associated with Al Qaeda. Do the math. Also, according to the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism report, between 2001 and 2011, there were three terrorist organizations that performed the most attacks on U.S. soil: the Earth Liberation Front (50), the Animal Liberation Front (34), and Al Qaeda (4). That’s right, two mostly white, Christian, British organizations attacked the United States far more than one of the most feared Muslim organizations. Remember that when you shy away from the person on the sidewalk whose religion reportedly promotes violence.