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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Countering the notion of the “violent Muslim”

The Columbia Missourian has a fascinating article discussing the efforts of Muslims in the Columbia, Missouri area to educate others about Islam after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. One such individual, Maaz Maqbool, states
I felt it was my duty to be involved in educating people about Islam, since it was such a sensitive time and we were afraid of any backlash from people who couldn’t separate the lunatic fringe from the 1.2 billion ordinary Muslims around the world.
Despite this noble motivation and the educational activities that followed, the article notes that "many Americans [still] equate Muslims with terrorism." Indeed,
  • In October, the Council on American-Islamic Relations found one in four Americans surveyed held negative views of Muslims.
  • A December poll by Cornell University shows 44 percent of Americans surveyed favored some curtailment of civil liberties for American Muslims, while 42 percent who described themselves as not highly religious saw Islam as an advocate of violence.
The article's extensive discussion of the difficulties that Muslim-Americans face -- in terms of averting a backlash, explaining to others that Islam is not a proxy for terrorist ideology, and understanding how a radical breed of Muslim fundamentalism has arisen -- is worth checking out.

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