Anti-Muslim prejudice is unacceptable

2014-12-23 10:37

I enjoyed reading Georgina Guedes column about frequently requesting Muslims to condemn or disassociating themselves from the Islamic State or al- Qaeda or any other fundamentalist group or individual. (In the wake of Sydney siege, news24, December 16).

Guede’s positive article has valid points and I concur with her sentiments expressed in the article.

From the time of the Crusades, unfortunately, various Westerners have taken an antagonistic and demonising stance towards Islam.

There has been a fair amount of anti-Muslim bigotry expressed in the mass media and especially in the comments section after the article. The thoughtless and offensive comments posted by readers is really demeaning.

Many label all Muslims as extremists, which is untrue and a serious insulting stereotype. Making widespread generalizations as if all Muslims are terrorists, extremist or regressive, or that they pose some sort of danger is unacceptable. Why focus on the small minority, when majority of Muslims dislike violence and extreme practices and criminal behaviour.

Why should it be the responsibility of Muslims to condemn every crime that may be committed by a Muslim? Some people use guilt by association when the targets pray to the wrong religion.

When violence and other criminal deeds are carried out by individuals and groups of other minority demographic groups, faiths and beliefs, why are they not required to do the same? There is some sort of double standard.

Followers of any religion can go astray and deviate from the teachings, as evidenced by Adolf Hitler, George W Bush, amongst others. The Spanish Inquisition, after all, was a Catholic creation.

Just as Christianity cannot be blamed for the actions of Jim Jones or Timothy McVeigh, or Judaism for the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Islam cannot be held responsible for the actions of terrorists.

It seems Muslims are under mistrust of being sympathetic to extremists and terrorists unless they collectively and regularly condemn it.

Repeatedly, after 9/11, Muslims have unanimously and unequivocally stated, that to destroy places of worship, to harm or kill innocent civilians and the violent acts perpetuated by extremists are contrary to the teachings of Islam. The Quran is full with references concerning the sacredness of life and the importance of good morals and values.

The rules of warfare and conflict resolution that the Prophet Mohammad¬ (PBUH) imposed on his people more than 1?400 years ago are emulated by the Geneva Convention formulated in 1949 after World War 2.

Muslims, as conscientious and responsible members of the human family will not remain silent in the face of terrorists’ actions but to continuously condemn terror acts is difficult and unfair.

In this regard I truly agree with Guede’s statement that “this is an onerous and almost unachievable requirement.”

In order to live together in peace and to ease the current global tensions between believers of different faiths; religious organisations across the globe should work towards promoting universal human values and rights.

Commonalities are to be sought from various faiths to validate universal and positive values such as human rights and development, Ubuntu, tolerance, coexistence and justice and address the growing inequalities in societies.

The onus is on us as ordinary human beings to bring about progressive change to heal the “bleeding world” by promoting dialogue and universal values - love of God and Love of the neighbour, or love of the good and love of the neighbour.

Live and let live. There is a better future waiting for us if we all do our part as responsible individuals and work towards the greater good - equality, human rights and social justice.

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