Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan has said that criticising Islam is not racist, however, the credibility of such an argument would depend on the nature of the criticism, particularly since he appears to ignore that the majority of terrorists are non-Muslim. Regarding the latter point, we must instead consider why Muslims are the primary focus of anti-terrorism strategies, with the resulting impact of being negatively stereotyped as a group. It is due to views such as McEwan's and the associated rises in Islamophobia that organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) are now working on addressing the areas of concern by educating and spreading knowledge about Islam and Muslims.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of stereotyping as a result of the message given and received by government security services and public sectors in scrutinising Muslims and forwarding names of those suspected of radicalisation. There’s no exact science to what should warrant a suspicion, other than subjective opinions about anyone who prays at a Mosque, wears Islamic dress or disagrees with the war on terror. This is just one example of strategies that alienate good Muslims rather than dealing with the bad ones.
Consequently, racism and attacks against Muslims are on the rise, and a lot of work needs to be done in response. However, it is counterproductive when those focusing on the issues are apostates, ex-extremists and liberals who have their own agendas which involve drawing negative attention toward Muslims. Yvonne Ridley rightly argues this is an increasing phenomenon,
The fashion for being Islamophobic is stronger than ever in the media and it doesn’t help when you have more self-confessed extremists and Islamists scuttling to kiss and tell their stories than a pack of WAGS past their sell-by date
The likes of failed extremist turned failed counter-extremist, Ed (ashamed of his full name) Husain), cause negative attention against Muslims in identifying the “radical threat among us” in order to sell advice to the government as counter-extremism experts. This in fact ignores the very important point that Muslims as a community are not the problem, and we can understand this by acknowledging the following key points.
1. The Muslim threat is quite simply not factual as the majority of terrorist incidents in America and Europe are carried out by non-Muslims. Official FBI records show that only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by Islamic extremists. The remaining 94% were by other groups (42% by Latinos, 24% by extreme left wing groups, 7% by extremist Jews, 5% by Communists, and 16% by all other groups).
Europol's annual report, titled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report shows that for 2007, 2008 and 2009, only 0.4% of terrorist attacks were attributed to Muslims. Of the 99.6% of terrorist attacks in Europe by non-Muslim groups; 84.8% of attacks were by separatist groups completely unrelated to Islam and Leftist groups accounted for over sixteen times as much terrorism as radical Islamic groups.
I’ll take this opportunity to note that the above statistics came to my attention via Loonwatch, who are more credible than other Muslims who falsely claim to be helping our cause, and in ending the audience for Islamophobic fears and propaganda at such radical sites as Fellowship of the Minds, The UK Libertarian, Atlas Shrugs and The End Time.
2. With all the propaganda and prejudice towards Islam generated by the actions of one man (Osama Bin Laden) in conjunction for the West’s quest for oil, it should be no surprise that many Muslims want US/UK forces out of Islamic countries and approve of attacks on US troops (allegedly). It should be no surprise that some Muslims agree with some of the supposed goals of Al Qaeda while strongly opposing attacks on civilians. Nor should it be a surprise that some Muslims express support for enhancing the role of Islam in Western society, but also favour the benefits of globalization and democracy. We must be clear in our understanding that expressing support in any of these areas does not make a Muslim a terrorist, or warrant a terrorism strategy being employed against individuals or communities.
3. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the Muslims' responsibility to publicly condemn terrorism or anything else. However, as the majority of Muslims do not promote or participate in terrorism, it is instead the responsibility of the rest of the world to acknowledge this. This would enable Muslims to increasingly seek the victory of Islam through identification of its negatively radical elements and seeking a solution through lasting engagement with global non-Muslim communities. I am of the opinion that such a shift would encourage those Muslims who do promote and engage in terrorism to rethink their beliefs and actions.
4. Western societies must stop listening to the likes of Wafa Sultan and Ed (ashamed of his full name) Husain, as those who make their fame and fortune through book sales and consultations which effectively slander Islam while fueling moral panics about Muslims should not be considered objective sources.
5. Islam as a religion does not pose a threat to the West or elsewhere. Islam means the readiness of a person to take orders from God and to follow his message of unity, submission and peace. Those who do otherwise are not acting in accordance with Islam, and the West should truly strive to promote this.
To conclude, thankfully there is work in progress, which is paramount if we are to address the inherent Islamophobic undertones that pervade western society and to highlight that there is no clash of civilisations. It is important that we strike the balance between addressing the behaviours of inappropriate and dangerous radical elements within the Muslim community, while also educating non-Muslims that Islam and Muslims are a positive part of mainstream societies. As Obama once said, "the cycle of suspicion and discord between the United States and the Muslim world must end", and this message is as relevant to all other western countries.