I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this or not. But this is something I feel like I need to say. Please read until the end.
My Muslim identity has not always been something that I wanted people to know. All my life, I would get scared that if people knew I was Muslim, the assumptions would follow. I so hated those lines that we repeated over and over again. “Yeah, we don’t believe in terrorism, it’s just a few bad apples. I promise.” I hated that so much. I didn’t matter where an act of terror happened, if the people behind it were Muslims, then we all had a responsibility the next day to go out and assure people that all 2 billion of us weren’t in on it. And if there’s one thing we know about innocent people, it’s that every time something happens, they go out to declare their innocence.
We aren’t bad people. We’re like all people. We have the good and the bad. But unlike all people, we aren’t allowed to mourn our losses and our dead. We aren’t allowed to proclaim the truth about what is happening in the world, in regards to these Muslims who commit acts of terror. We have to bow our heads, and quietly accept that this is how we live.
Here’s the truth. We do have a problem within our wider religious community. That’s number one. We have allowed the once radical and fringe ideologies among our community to become mainstream. I’m referencing the Saudi/Gulf version of Islam. This has allowed for even more extreme groups to rise up. Once the extreme became mainstream, there needed to be a new extreme. We have a responsibility to kick this Saudi/Gulf extreme version of our faith out, once and for all. That’s number one.
Here’s number two. The truth is, the primary targets of these terrorist groups, a majority of the victims of terrorism in this world are Muslim people. And I know that might be hard to believe, but let’s think about this for one second. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other extremist groups have attacked Western cities numerous times. They have killed the innocent in Manchester, and Brussels. London and Boston. California and Florida. And my heart aches as I write down the names of these cities. But we can count how many times they have attacked Western civilization. These attacks are a daily occurrence in the Middle East. They aren’t worthy of a news story, or a Facebook post. Because they are so frequent, people have become indifferent.
“ISIS attacked another Shia mosque? What, that’s their third mosque this week?”
“Well what can you do. That’s just what happens in Iraq.”
And don’t get me wrong. Don’t ever assume that I am belittling the suffering of non-Muslims at the hands of these barbarians. ISIS has made their hatred of non-Muslims clear. The attacks on Christians in Egypt and Iraq, their treatment of the Yazidis, forcing them to leave their homeland in search of refuge. These are barbaric people. This is a barbaric ideology. I could write a book on the reactionary minds of these people. But this article is focusing on one group today. Because sadly, I cannot write about all those who are suffering.
And there is one group ISIS hates above all else.
We, the non-ISIS Muslims.
We are the fake Muslims. The Muslims who like Western movies, who speak English, French, and Korean. We, the Muslims who like to travel and make money. We are what’s wrong with Islam. We ARE the war on Islam. And I hate the fact that I used the pronoun “we.” I have not suffered at the hands of these people, thank God. And I would never equate my emotions with those who actually lost their loved ones. But I promise, I’m getting to my point.
Look at what ISIS has done. Yes, they’ve attacked London. But they took over Libya. They attacked Paris. And took over Syria. They attacked Orlando. And took over Iraq. They attacked Manchester. And took over Sinai.
Their attacks on the west are not meant to be some takeover attempt. Killing innocent people in London is not going to make London a part of their “state.” It’s how they recruit. They portray themselves as some sort of resistance against the west. As a resistance against imperialism and colonialism. They want to incite a conflict in the west, that would alienate Western Muslims. They want to tell these people that they aren’t welcome in the West. Bomb Syria. Bomb Iraq. What happens when bombings begin? Innocent people die. What do they do with those images? Propaganda. The imperialist armies. Killing innocent babies. Who stands up to the imperialists? Why, they do of course! That’s their business in the west. They want to recruit. They know they won’t take over Paris or Orlando. But they can divide the people. They can recruit soldiers. And what do they do with those soldiers?
They wage wars in the lands they actually want to take over.
Iraq. Syria. Yemen. Libya. Egypt. Medina.
Every day they die.
Iraqis. Syrians. Yemenis. Libyans.
Every day they suffer.
Mosul. Raqqa. Sanaa. Benghazi.
Terrorism is a part of their lives. Terrorism is a part of their schedule.
Well, why don’t they condemn it? Why don’t they walk up to the soldiers with guns and weapons, and tell them that they don’t want them there?
“You’re not welcome here!”
Of course not.
Muslims aren’t the only victims of these people and their crazy ideology. We suffer, just like everyone else does.
I remember when September 11th happened, I was in the third grade. I remember the horrors of watching the events unfold on TV. They had let us out of school early. Just like everyone else, we mourned for our dead Americans. Just like everyone else, we lost people that day. Just like everyone else, we wanted justice.
But we weren’t everyone else. And this is point three.
Because we had questions to answer. We had our loyalties to be questioned. Were we loyal Americans? Were we a Trojan horse? What did we believe in?
We weren’t allowed to be Americans. Not without having our loyalties questioned.
And today we get asked.
“Why can’t the Muslims stop ISIS?”
How do you answer that?
“Well, they are. Those soldiers fighting them in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Egypt. Don’t you know that they are overwhelmingly Muslim?”
“What about the Muslims here?”
“In America? You want Ahmed to leave his job at Company Retrieverisk to go join the Iraqi military, even though he was born in Baltimore, his parents immigrated from Pakistan, and he has never agreed with their ideology or way of thinking?”
People think we can control them. That we can, somehow, stop them killing from our homes in America. Just call up ISIS. Just go tell the Imam to talk to them. What do you mean we don’t know where they are?
Because there is a secret about Muslims that a lot of people might not have realized. There is no secret whatsapp group where all two billion of us chat. It’s not like we have a connection to these people. We don’t know how to control them. They are not preaching their messages in American mosques. They aren’t preaching on the streets of Morocco. They recruit online, faceless, nameless. I can promise you this. If there was a secret Muslim connection to ISIS, you would have heard about it. 2 billion Muslims in the world. You don’t think one or two would sell that secret for money?
But back to Ahmed. Because if Ahmed has to go fight ISIS in Iraq, then perhaps Kevin has to go fight the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. What’s that? Why is it his responsibility? He is a Christian after all, and they are an armed Christian terrorist group.
I’m sorry to anyone who has ever suffered because of these people. I’m sorry that this horror had to come from people who call their for war in the name of Muslims. But at the end of the day, we ARE their war. They see us as their biggest threat. We are the wrong Islam. We aren’t their only victims. But just like every other community fighting this war, we are also their victims.