Thursday, August 11, 2005

Muslims' daily dilemma

It is becoming common to accuse muslim people of refraining from actively denoncing terrorists. The question is: are they in a position to do so? In order to understand this, it would be crucial to try and put ourselves in their clothes. Muslim civilians, on one hand, are now suspected by non-muslim by th emere fact of belonging to a religious minority. In other words, they have no chance to be integrated in the local community, if that is not muslim. On the other, they have very little incentive to severe the ties with their own community by openly accusing some of its members. If they did so, they would be at risk of losing even their status of member of a minority.

To understand this basic point is necessary if we wish to tailor a policy that allows us to single out terrorist from the rest of the people. To insist on clash of cultures, unwillingness to cooperate, impossiblity to integrate is the wrong path to follow. We have to take the first steps and understand how difficult it is for a common muslim to live under a constant threat of being treated as a traitor at best, and a criminal at worst.


Atilla Arda said...

“We have to take the first steps and understand how difficult it is for a common muslim to live under a constant threat of being treated as a traitor at best, and a criminal at worst.”

Good thinking. But I am inclined to think that it will not be enough to try to understand the common Muslim. It may even be more important to understand the extremists who claim to be Muslim.

As we are waging a “War on Terror” – or ‘struggle against violent extremists’ – we better follow one of veteran ‘warrior’ Robert S. McNamara’s lessons in the documentary ‘The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara’.

“If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy – I don’t mean ‘sympathy’ – but rather ‘understanding’ to counter their attacks on us and the Western world.”

Having said this, I would like to argue that most common Muslims do think a lot about their religion and these so called Muslim terrorists. They have already adapted their religious practice to local non-Muslim conditions.

And these common Muslims do condemn terrorism. However, they may not have the same media exposure as hardliners both in ‘the West’, and the world of Muslim fundamentalism. The latter groups are far more interesting for the media, in terms of viewer ratings.

Therefore your suggestion to try to understand the common Muslims is very important. Since, if common Muslims keep feeling attacked from both sides they may decide to become more extremist.

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Lorenzo Zucca said...

Thanks Atilla for your comment. You're making a good point: Moderate muslims do not get media coverage whatsoever. It is therefore also the responsibility of the media to seek out the enormous majority of muslims who are willing to condamn publicly terrorism. Unfortunately, I am well aware that what sells most are 'integralist westerners', who reponds to islamic fundamentalism with similar verbal violence.