UK Muslims reject notion of ‘collective guilt’ over Foley

‘We don’t expect Christians, nationalists or socialists to apologise for [Adolf] Hitler,’ so why should we apologize for the Islamic State.

Muslim organizations have attacked British media values in the wake of what they see as a clamor to tie their faith to the Islamic State’s (IS) apparent murder of a U.S. journalist in Syria.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, told the Anadolu Agency Thursday that a narrative existed among “right-wing media and some politicians” that Muslims are not doing enough to combat extremism.

“But we have been speaking out since 9/11,” underlined Shafiq. “We condemn the murder of James Foley, but not because the British press tells us to, but because our faith tells us to.”

Foley’s death was broadcast in a video on YouTube on Tuesday night, his killer – who claims to be from the Islamic State – blaming U.S. involvement in Iraq in what sounds like a British accent before taking a knife to the 40-year-old’s neck.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has since said it is looking “increasingly likely” that the man was – or is – a British citizen. The government has previously said it believes that there are around 400 British nationals fighting alongside IS – formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – in Iraq and Syria.

The London Evening Standard newspaper acknowledged Wednesday that young men who have joined the IS are not necessarily representative of the capital’s Muslims, but went on to say “they are nonetheless worshippers at their mosques, members of their families, with friends and relatives privy to their plans.”

It called on Muslim communities to be “far more outspoken” about religious extremism, adding “we look to them, for instance, to organize protests against the Islamic State.”

Shafiq told AA that instead of making such generalizations that all Muslims share the same ideology, media and some politicians should instead be focusing on the root cause of radicalization and extremism.

“Our [British] inaction over Syria, our illegal war in Iraq and our silence over Gaza, and [British] support of the Israelis feeds the misconceptions and shows double standards,” he told AA.

Faith Matters Director Fiyaz Mughal agrees.

“The usual canard that is mentioned is that Muslims are not doing enough and these papers promote such ill-informed ideas,” he told AA.

“In fact, parents, mothers and [guardians] have actively been involved in dissuading young men from going to Syria and the stance of these papers shows how ill-informed their positions are as Muslim communities have been working tirelessly for at least five years on tackling extremism.”

Mughal added that some papers felt that all Muslims share a sense of “collective guilt” over the issue.

“Collective guilt is by itself anti-Muslim in nature since it targets all Muslims by virtue of their identity, when many have nothing to do with or have no control over global situations,” he said.

“We have to call this… exactly what it is – prejudice that targets whole communities.”

Massoud Shadjareh from the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission said to AA that as human beings we “don’t expect Christians, nationalists or socialists to apologise for [Adolf] Hitler.”

“If ISIL self-represents as Islamic or Muslim or any other Islamic term, it neither gives them Islamic credibility, or connection with Muslims around the world; including those who seek political solutions through Islamic political and social organisation.”

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 21 August 2014

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