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Doing Muslims ‘Not Extremists’ Justice | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Protesters march in the Rally Against War, Racism and Islamophobia held on September 11, 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. PHOTO: REUTERS

A billion and a half Muslims, roughly a quarter of the world’s population, have been long forced to account for actions carried by extremists who represent no more than the small ratio of one in thousand Muslims.

The extremist minority of self-proclaimed Muslims have managed to trick the entire world into believing that they with their brutality and zealous ways do indeed embody Islam. Extremists had lost their right to Muslimhood as they staged countless vilifying acts of plunder and bombing– not to mention the ongoing overpass of religious red lines and committed cardinal sins.

Extremists have spread chaos wherever they roamed, killing more Muslims than who they deem ‘apostates.’

When true Muslims tried to repair the damage done to Islam’s image, counterbalancing the extremists’ wrongdoing, they found no one listening. Muslims have washed their hands clean from extremism and its ultrahardliners, but yet with no avail.

Many fatwas were issued renouncing radicals, banishing them as far as religious authenticity is concerned. But day after day, the rift widens and the cracks deepen. The world’s ill-conceived perception of Islam self-consolidates as extremists grow fiercer and more extreme.

Little does the world know that by scapegoating Muslims it is playing right into the hands of terrorist groups. The very same groups threatening the safety and security of the global community at large.

Muslim World League Chief Dr. Mohammad al-Issa did well when making a speech before EU parliamentarians and officials in Brussels earlier this week. He could not have selected a better platform to address mushrooming fear of Islam and clarifying what comes naturally to Muslims.

Terror groups stand to benefit the most from Islamophobia, as they continue searching for ways to rally more recruits found in hate-fueled and enraged Muslim youth, particularly who reside in non-Muslim countries.

Fighting extremism with extremism will only exasperate the situation and afflict not only Muslim countries, but also have negative repercussions within countries fostering Islamophobia.

One of the fallouts of Islamophobia is a huge number found in moderate Muslims law-abiding and positively integrated citizens within Western societies – badgered with racism and xenophobia – swaying and playing into extremism.

Terrorist groups will exploit anti-Muslim sentiment as a rally base for recruiting youth that once valued countries they are citizens of and did things by the book, which is a warning Issa underscored in his Brussels speech.

Literature Professor Edward Said’s “Orientalism” publication says that it is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists.

Islamophobia will have acute consequences on the fierce battle against terrorism, and will add further complications as animosity harbored against Islam grows.

A smashing majority of Muslims today show resilience and are fighting wholeheartedly against extremists and radicalism, whether through renouncing ultrahardline entities or shunning radical ideology.

Similarly, Western countries remain to follow through with the burden of not feeding into the ‘clash of civilizations’ rhetoric—the very same hateful, bigoted, and rabble-rousing discourse terror group ISIS uses to sway youths living in non-Muslim countries.

For example, last June when American famous boxer Muhammad Ali passed away, headlines celebrated him as an ambassador of moderate and tolerant Islam.

That positive image was soon replaced with its flipside, after headlines flashed with the United States Orlando terror attack gunman Omar Mateen, responsible for murdering 51 people.

Regrettably, the disdain and brutality of Mateen’s attack dominated international media for a while. Indisputably, the American observer will not imprint on Muhammad Ali’s display of Islam, but on that of Mateen the terrorist.

The fight against extremism and terrorism will go on until its illicit ideology is brought to a conclusive end.

Religious moderation is a key factor in curing intolerance and wiping out terrorist mindsets. Blaming Muslims– who are innocent from the gruesome atrocities of radicals– only promises less security and more recruitment for terror groups, an upshot that threatens everyone.