Pointing fingers at acts of terrorism

Education is key to understanding and combatting prejudice.

Jenny Roberts

Jenny RobertsIn the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, Muslims have been called upon once again to denounce all acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam.  The largely Christianized West has continually held moderate Muslims responsible for the actions of Islamic fundamentalists.

From 9/11 to ISIS, many right-wing conservatives have been calling for the Muslim population to combat extremists of their religion. The pleas of these conservatives have grown stronger most recently, following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.

On Jan. 7, gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. These assailants carried out their attack to avenge the Prophet Muhammad, who had recently been depicted on the magazine’s cover. In Islam any images or drawings of the Prophet are forbidden.

The magazine’s cover was offensive to many Muslims, but only those who acted out against this offense in violence should be held responsible. Following the Charlie Hebdo attack, many prominent politicians and public figures have renewed the fervor, with which they are urging all Muslims to put an end to Islamic extremism.

On Jan. 9, Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp., took to Twitter to comment on the recent terrorist attack in Paris.

In a tweet he said, “Maybe most Moslems [sic] peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”

Comedian Aziz Ansari responded to this comment in a string of tweets countering Murdoch’s faulty logic.

In one of his tweets Ansari said, “.@rupertmurdoch You are Catholic, why are you not hunting pedophiles? #RupertsFault”

Ansari has a valid point. A whole group of people should neither be punished, nor held responsible for the actions of one person somehow linked to their cause.

By this logic, if all Muslims should be held responsible for extremists, then all Christians should apologize for the Crusades, and anyone of German descent should be expected to eternally condemn Hitler’s actions, as if it weren’t already clear that his actions were blatantly wrong.

I think it’s fair to say that all people who are not extremists themselves know that terrorism is wrong; but Muslims are disproportionately asked to declare this belief.

On Jan. 10, Judge Jeanine Pirro took Murdoch’s position even farther on the Fox News show, “Justice.”

“There’s only one group that can stop this war: the Muslims themselves. Our job is to arm those Muslims to the teeth,” Pirro said. “Give them everything they need to take out these Islamic fanatics. Let them do the job. Let them have at it.”

Muslims should not be held responsible for Islamic fundamentalists, with whom they have no connection. Islam is a peaceful religion that extremists distort to gain political and economic power.  Extremists, who commit acts of terrorism, do not represent Islam or the Muslims who practice it.

The overarching issue of terrorism should not solely be a Muslim problem to fix. Terrorism is a global problem, and so is the prejudice that lumps all Muslims into the category of “terrorist.”

This prejudice only appears to hold any claim because many people mistakenly believe Muslims are inherently angry, because they also assume that Islam, itself, is inherently violent.

Salman Patel, a junior neuroscience major, serves as the vice president of Temple’s Muslim Student Association. He believes that many people unjustly characterize Islam based on the actions of extremists.

“One of the biggest misconceptions that the general public has about Islam … is that it is a violent religion,” Patel said. “They form this [opinion] based on the acts of a very small percentage of people.”

The only way we can combat prejudice and ignorance concerning Islam is by educating ourselves on the religion.

I can admit that I have some learning to do also. I grew up in a Christian household and went to a Catholic school. I had never met a Muslim person until this year.

Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves here on Main Campus. The Muslim Student Association has several opportunities scheduled for the spring semester, which serve to educate the student body on the mission of Islam.

On Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Center Room 200A, the MSA will be hosting  an event called “Islam? The Untold Story.” This event will consist of an information session on the mission of Islam followed by a Q&A session.

Later in the spring, the MSA will also be holding Islamic Awareness Week (IAW), which is tentatively scheduled for sometime in mid-March. The goal of IAW is to educate students in order to spark dialogue, which will hopefully allow students a better understanding of Islam.

Hopefully, this semester we can all learn a little more about Islam, so we can educate others. And if future terrorist attacks occur, we’ll know where to justly point fingers.

Jenny Roberts can be reached at jenny.roberts@temple.edu


  1. A beheading in Woolwich, a suicide bomb in Beijing, a blown-up marathon in Boston, a shooting in the head of a young Pakistani girl seeking education, a destroyed shopping mall in Nairobi – and so it continues, in the name of Islam, from south London to Timbuktu. It is time to take stock, especially on the left, since these things are part of the world’s daily round.
    Leave aside the parrot-cry of “Islamophobia” for a moment. I will return to it. Leave aside, too, the pretences that it is all beyond comprehension. “Progressives” might ask instead: what do Kabul, Karachi, Kashmir, Kunming and a Kansas airport have in common? Is it that they all begin with “K”? Yes. But all of them have been sites of recent Islamist or, in the case of Kansas, of wannabe-Islamist, attacks; at Wichita Airport planned by a Muslim convert ready to blow himself up, and others, “in support of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”. “We cannot stop lone wolves,” a British counterterrorism expert told us after Woolwich. Are they “lone”? Of course not.
    A gas facility in southern Algeria, a hospital in Yemen, an Egyptian police convoy in the Sinai – it’s complex all right – a New Year’s party in the southern Philippines, a railway station in the Caucasus, a bus terminal in Nigeria’s capital, and on and on, have all been hit by jihadis, with hostages taken, suicide belts detonated, cars and trucks exploded, and bodies blown to bits. And Flight MH370? Perhaps. In other places – in Red Square and Times Square, in Jakarta and New Delhi, in Amman and who-knows-where in Britain – attacks have been thwarted. But in 2013 some 18 countries got it in the neck (so to speak) from Islam’s holy warriors….

  2. Yes…it’s entirely predictable. Another in the endless litany of atrocites is perpetrated by Islamist terrorists and the response is ”we must not allow this to fuel anti-muslim sentiment”.

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