Is ISIS an indication that Islam is an evil religion? Many on the conservative side of politics want people to think so and have been actively campaigning to spread this message for years. The latest line in trying to prove that Islam is evil is the question, “Why aren’t Muslims condemning ISIS?” In light of the horrific deaths of two Japanese hostages and the Jordanian military pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh, this question is part of the refrain from the conservative side of politics. The fact is that countless Muslims have engaged in protesting the actions of the Islamic State terrorists through social media, hashtag campaigns, YouTube and blogging. So the question really is, when will conservatives acknowledge the Muslim outcry against ISIS?
The death of al-Kasasbeh is an excellent case in point of how conservatives are ignoring the voices of Muslims. Islam forbids the cremation or mutilation of the human body. It is considered “haram,” meaning forbidden. By burning al-Kasasbeh alive, ISIS committed a sin according to Islam. Because of this, Muslim leaders have condemned ISIS (not for the first time) and directly said that the terrorist organization is ignoring the tenets of the religion it purports to follow.
These are the “moderate” Muslims who conservatives keep saying are not speaking out against Islamic State. The outrage regarding this most recent killing is making headlines all over the media, including The Globe and Mail in Canada, CBS News in the United States,the English-language Arab News Saudi Arabia, Arutz Sheva, Israel’s national news site, and the Khaleej Times, an English daily in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Meanwhile, conservative news outlets and pundits are still peddling the “no Muslim outcry” story line. FOX News posted a story titled “ISIS Burns Jordanian Pilot: Mr. Obama when will you get angry about radical Islam?” on February 3. Besides complaining about Obamacare in the article and bashing the president’s foreign policy, it contained the accusation that Muslims “around the world are doing far too little to ‘reject’ extremism.” It also said that there was silence from “moderate Imams” on the matter, calling it “deafening.”
Meanwhile on February 4, the conservative pundit shock-jock Rush Limbaugh talked about the matter as well, expounding his own crackpot theory. Not only was there some difficult to understand conspiracy theory about denying that ISIS was Muslim in order to protect Obama (who he made a point of referring to as “Barack Hussein”) and reiterated that the terror group is Islamic no matter what anyone else says. This is not a new idea in conservative circles. The conservative New Republic published a story in 2014 titled “If ISIS is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” The thought is consistent across conservative media: ISIS is Muslim which means Islam is evil.
Any evidence that contradicts that “evil religion” idea is ignored. The silence that conservative media give to Muslims protesting terrorist actions is the real deafening silence in this situation. There are countless efforts by “moderate” Muslims, both lay people and leaders, who are condemning ISIS and the horror they are visiting on the Middle East. Even a short list runs very long.
There are Facebook groups like “Muslims Against ISIS.” There are YouTube videos like that from The Muslim Vibe, which not only condemn ISIS but reaffirm the principles of peace taught by Islam. In the video titled “Not My Islam,” a woman recited spoken word poetry over images of terror, strongly proclaiming that “this is not my Islam.” Business Insider reported that 126 Muslim leaders and scholars from all over the world had put together a formal letter condemning ISIS. The letter uses the principles of Islam to show where the terrorist organization is transgressing against their religion. In the executive summary before the body of the letter, bullet points list 24 ways in which ISIS is not following Islam. Out of the 126 signatures at the end of the letter, there are many from the United States, including Dr. Zahid Bukhari, the executive director of the Center for Islam and Public Policy, and Dr. Ahmad Shqeirat, a member of the North American Imams.
Muslim soldiers from many Middle eastern countries have been fighting against ISIS since the beginning. The outcry over the Jordanian pilot’s death is not the first time that Muslims the world over have been outraged by the actions of this terrorist organization. Muslims in Britain even started the hashtag campaign “Not In My Name” where young Muslims hold up signs with that slogan to protest ISIS claiming it acts in the name of their religion. It has been used thousands of times on Twitter and elsewhere to express objections to the actions of Islamic State.
When will Conservatives acknowledge that Muslims are protesting against ISIS? Do they not know how to use Google? Are they ignoring trusted news sources like CBS or Arutz Sheva? Are they misinformed? Or is this a willful denial of moderate Islam in order to make the argument that Islam is evil? The view on the right seems to be that if Muslims are not condemning ISIS, then they must support it. The overwhelming anger on the part of Muslims for the actions of this terrorist organization refutes this thinking. Still, no positive stories about Muslims are forthcoming from the conservative media. In fact, they are consistently denied. If someone only listened to conservative media sources for their news, they would believe that every Muslim is evil. The only conclusion is that this is the intention of conservatives. And that not only contradicts the facts, but is guaranteed to spread unnecessary fear of good people who are Muslim and definitely not evil.
Opinion by Lydia Bradbury