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Some Muslims just can’t accept there are those who genuinely believe in Islam, but who do horrible things in its name, says Samaoen Osman.
Cape Town - This terrorist attack at Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, was cruel and horrifying. It was also, for me, painfully disturbing that the main suspects are Muslims.
Yet the unfolding of the events have been enough for the media to conclude that this is yet another case of terrorism in the name of Islam.
A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal puts it clearly enough: “Make no mistake, it was jihad.”
Therefore, unless a big surprise comes up in the upcoming weeks, the Nairobi attacks will go down in the record as something related with Islam. It will make the lives of Muslims living in the West more difficult.
Of course, no extremist can ever represent a whole community, let alone the Muslims of the whole world. That is why we call them extremists.
Yet it is inevitable that the crimes of the few, especially since they are committed with some assumed justification from Islam, will raise questions about the attitudes of all Muslims.
We Muslims can ask from Western and African societies that this not be the case, but we should also be realistic about it.
Therefore, it is imperative that Muslims, especially Western Muslims and Muslims in Africa, speak out on this issue of Islam and violence and do so in a reasonable and compelling way.
This rarely happens, though. Hence the West keeps asking: “Why do moderate Muslims not speak out?” In fact, this is sometimes an unfair question, because the Muslims who do speak out are hardly highlighted by the Western media. The media, after all, believe that “whatever bleeds leads” and whoever is radical should make the news.
However, the problem is not limited to the bias of the Western media. On the Muslim side, here is what I see: Among the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, about 10 percent sympathise with the terrorist attacks on Western societies. They see them as a justified retaliation against what the West has done to Muslims, real or perceived.
The rest believe indiscriminate violence has no place in Islam. So, they are the “moderates”.
But most of them have another persuasion as well: They believe that all this rhetoric about “Islamist terrorism” is created by the West for imperialistic goals.
All instances of such terrorism, from September 11 to Boston, in this view, are conspiracies crafted by the CIA, Mossad or some other imagined evil. In other words, these mainstream moderate Muslims just can’t accept that there can be Muslim fanatics who do genuinely believe in Islam, but who do horrible things in its name.
Yet that is exactly the reality that we have in the world today. And it would be much better if we faced it honestly and self-critically, without opting for denial and conspiracy.
Crawford, Cape Town