Jehron Muhammad: Why do Muslim's have to apologize for the actions of a few?
Why do Muslims have to always get in line to apologize or condemn actions of violence by "people who are … pieces of s—t who call themselves Muslims?", said Laila Alawa, one of the co-founders of a opinion and news site called "Coming of Faith."
Cases in point include CAIR's (Council On American-Islamic Relations) knee jerk reactions to alleged acts of violence by Muslims, and a BuzzFeed video series, "I'm Muslim, But…" that has received more than 30 million views, where Muslims actually go out of their way to somehow pledge their allegiance to "western values" by saying things like, "I'm a Muslim, but I'm not a terrorist," or "I'm a Muslim, but I love Jews."
This is tantamount, many Muslims are suggesting, to saying there is a flaw in the religion that somehow allows violent acts to be permitted in the name of their faith, when the Quran, in no certain terms, forbids the unlawful killing of another. In fact, it equates such despicable acts "as though he had killed all men." And then to close any loophole that would be left open for interpretation, it emphatically states, "that some of its verses are allegorical and some are decisive, but the decisive explains all of it."
Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab Association of New York, who spoke at the Justice Or Else themed 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March says, she is appalled by these "knee jerk" reactions. "Our leaders think that by apologizing and condemning violence that is somehow going to protect our community," she said.
"I wish our national Muslim organizations would condemn violence when it's against unarmed black people being shot down by police… or violence against undocumented immigrants who get deported and hauled away from their children, leaving them without parents," Sarsour said. "We can't have selective outrage and selective condemnation. We either condemn it all or we don't condemn anything."
Echoing Sansour was Kameelah Rashad,University of Pennsylvania Muslim chaplain and founder of Muslim Wellness Foundation, Inc. Instead of leaders going out of their way to receive recognition from the wider community, she said, "leadership needs to acknowledge the subsequent hurt and the confusion and the fear that Muslims are facing in the wake of these incidents of violence.
"It's always a kind of outward condemnation, but no recognition of what happens now when parents are afraid to send their children to school," she said, "There is no official press release (from Muslim organizations) that says I'm speaking to my constituencies… (and) we're going to protect you and acknowledge that this is a difficult time."
An attorney who is Muslim, who did not want to be quoted by name, contends that Muslims are being pressured to decide between their allegiance to their faith, or being an American. He said the "Constitution clearly objects (to the above) when it states that 'Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise there of."
He said, "So a person that is free should never be asked about their religious convictions verses their citizenship because the constitution says there is a separation between church and state. Furthermore, a person's religion, or faith should never be questioned in comparison to their citizenship or allegiance to America."
To give more clarity he mentioned John F. Kennedy, the nation's first Catholic president.
It was said in some corners that Kennedy's faith would somehow give the Pope undue influence over the running of the White House. Kennedy's response, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President, I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic." The attorney said, "Muslims should follow Kennedy's lead."
The absurdity of the call for just Muslim condemnation of acts of violence would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic. The fact that Judeo-Christian nation's faith traditions have never been excoriated for the Crusades, for the TransAtlantic slave trade, for colonialism, for the overthrow of countless democratically elected governments, for the destabilizing effects that its foreign polices have had on Iraq, Libya and Yemen, for Jim Crow segregation and for the history of lynchings, that many times included the burning of a Christian symbol, seems like a case of the kettle calling the pot black.
Now imagine if the same that has been applied to Muslims were applied to Christians. If Christians responding to Christian fundamentalist Wade Michael Page who raided a Sikh temple and killed eight and Dylan Roof who worshipped with church members in Charleston, S.C., before killing nine, were all called to distance themselves from these acts of violence or be found culpable.