To defeat Islamic State and uphold our liberal values we must jettison sweeping generalisations about Islam
As a young Muslim woman, I have felt marginalised by the media coverage in the wake of the Paris attacks.
For too long now, there has been a lack of education regarding the terms ‘jihadist’ and ‘terrorist’. This has created an environment in which individuals throw around these terms without fully comprehending what they entail. There is a clear distinction between the two. The term ‘jihad’ is associated with a personal struggle in devotion to Islam involving spiritual discipline. An individual that sacrifices sleep to engage in prayer at 5am can be associated with jihad, as they’re becoming spiritually closer to God. As soon as you begin to link acts of terror with a concept that allows a religious community to peacefully become closer to God, you begin to stigmatise the religion.
There is growing concern within the Muslim community that ISIS terrorists are labelled as ‘Islamist attackers’. Terrorism has no faith and knows no boundaries. It would be similarly irrational to say Nazis represent all Germans, or that the KKK represents all Christians. So why is it acceptable to label ISIS as an Islamic organisation?
"Whosoever killeth a human being, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind" (The Qur'an, 5:32).
Violence is NOT condoned in the Qur'an. The question of interpretation of quotes is not relevant when the facts are clear.
Since the Paris attacks, Western politicians have been quick to call for restrictions on the number of refugees entering Europe from Syria. This malignant narrative generalises all members of a worldwide religion and misconstrues the teachings of the faith. If we react by closing our borders, we risk condemning millions to unimaginable suffering.
On Sunday, the French government launched 20 airstrikes on the Syrian town of Raqqa. After three days of mourning in Paris, the government decided to engage in the same violence it inherently condemned. Supposedly, Raqqa is a city with a population of potential suicide bombers. Yet, it is indisputable that French bombs will slaughter many innocent civilians, which is morally reprehensible.
When Obama claims that “those who think they can terrorise the people of France or the values they stand for are wrong”, he is standing in solidarity with the French people. Yet, this statement highlights the hypocrisy of leaders such as Obama. Indeed, leading members of the Saudi Arabian ruling class have actively supported Islamic State, and yet Obama’s rapport with the Saudi government fails to wane.
It is up to us, as members of a liberal society, to continue to condemn attacks that undermine our rights, while working together to prevent the marginalisation of groups that suffer from the actions of a barbaric minority.
Through unity, we will annihilate animosity with friendship. Through unity, we will annihilate foreboding with benevolence. Through unity, we will defeat the opponents of liberty.