Many Muslims all over the world believe that the West is distorting the image of Islam and that the Western media is behind this. The Muslim world needs to review this position, as the high frequency of violent and barbaric acts conducted by people belonging to the Muslim faith, makes it inevitable that individuals will associate Islam with violence. Examples of such barbarity have been reported in major news outlets — both western and Arabic — in only the last 4 weeks. Spain: A Spanish court has sentenced a Mauritanian Muslim woman to 17 years in prison after she allegedly forced her underage daughter to marry an older man and have sex with him. Mauritanians in Spain protest against “attack on customs.”. Nigeria: A recent spike in violence in northern Nigeria has drawn attention to a mysterious group of radical Muslims known as the “Nigerian Taliban” or “Boko Haram” — which means “Western education is a sin.” The group aims to overthrow the Nigerian state, impose strict Islamic law, and abolish what it calls Western education. Pakistan: Eight Christians have been killed in religious unrest in Pakistan's central Punjab, violence sparked by the rumored desecration of a Quran. Four women, a man, and a child died as Muslim militants set fire to Christian houses in the town of Gojra. Two men died later of gunshot wounds. Afghanistan: The Taliban ordered its cadres to block all roads leading to polling stations on the eve of elections (Aug. 20) to prevent voters from expressing their views in a democratic election. United States: Officials arrested seven North Carolina Muslim residents Aug. 3 on charges of supporting terrorism by recruiting people to fight and plotting a series of attacks overseas. Australia: Police foiled a suicide plot in Australia on Aug. 4, arresting four men suspected of links to a Somali Islamic extremist group that was allegedly planning commando-style attacks on at least one army base. It is alleged that five men were planning to carry out an armed attack on an army base in Sydney.
Sudan: A well-known female Sudanese journalist is facing 40 lashes for wearing "indecent" clothes. Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who writes for the left-wing al-Sahafa newspaper and works for the media department of the United Nations mission in Sudan, was arrested in Khartoum and charged with dressing indecently, as she was wearing trousers. United Kingdom: MI5 expelled as many as six British Muslim recruits after red flags were raised about their affiliation with al-Qaida. Iraq: A wave of bombs targeting Shiite Muslim worshippers at mosques across Baghdad killed 29 people and wounded more than 136 on July 31. The most devastating attack was in the northeastern district of Al-Shaab, where a car bombing killed 23 people and wounded 107, an interior ministry official said. In addition, while I was writing this Op-Ed on Aug. 7, I received news of another attack on worshipers that killed at least 30 and left at least 72 seriously injured besides another Shiite Mosque.
It hard to imagine that the human mind will not link Islam to violence when such acts of terrorism, forced Shariah laws, pedophilia, and abusive acts are all conducted by Muslims at a global scale in such a short period of time. Muslims cannot blame the media for being biased against Islam because of the following reasons: These acts are reality (not inventions) The media exposes other religiously-motivated acts of violence not conducted by Muslims, as there was also a report about a recent attack on gays by some Jewish fundamentalists in Israel. Arab media networks, such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabia, exposed many of these acts as well.
The Muslim world needs to stop blaming the West for the negative image of Islam and change itself first before asking others to perceive it differently. Note the speech made to the Muslim world by President Barack Obama on June 4:
“The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.”
In conclusion; Muslims must blame themselves and NOT the West for the negative image of Islam.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of Inside Jihad. He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawaherri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Dr. Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Dr. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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