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July 24th, 2013, by Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed

Assuming Collective Guilt

 

“Why have Muslims not condemned terrorism?” This question is a seemingly permanent fixture in the question-and-answer sessions I address after public forums. After responding to this query for more than a decade, I am torn between bewilderment and grief: bewilderment at the willful ignorance required to miss the thousands of official Muslim statements, opinion editorials, and formal religious edicts denouncing terrorism that have been issued regularly since the horrendous attacks of 9/11; grief at the prejudice that makes these pronouncements necessary.

Even before the identity of the perpetrators was known in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Muslim Americans felt impelled to denounce – and therefore pre-emptively distance themselves from – this act of domestic terrorism.

Interestingly, some commentators initially speculated that the bombings might have been the work of right-wing, anti-government extremists. Yet, we didn’t hear right-leaning groups who advocate for small government – or the Republican Party, for that matter – condemning the violence or trying to distance themselves from it the way Muslim groups apparently believed they had to.

Nor did similar groups feel the need to issue strong statements denouncing Timothy McVeigh after he was found guilty of carrying out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing – the worst domestic terrorism act in United States history. McVeigh’s extremist violence was rightly cast as a product of his individual criminality, not the responsibility of all who share his religious, political, and ethnic identity. We don’t need to hear conservative groups denounce his act of violence, because we assume they do – as well we should.

 

 Read Dalia Mogahed’s article in its entirety in the Peruvian Times 

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