The Muslims we don’t hear about.

In another week where politicians in this country have seen it fit to target a particular religious group and use them as a political football to score cheap poll points based on ignorance and bigotry:  I thought it might be a useful counterbalance to the generally skewed opinions we are fed through the media and politics on Muslims and Islam in general to make note of a couple of people who’ve come to my notice this week.  Were these people represented a little more in our media instead of the rampant fear mongering we usually receive perhaps the debate on Muslim immigration, the Burkha and refugees might be a little more informed.

Maajid Nawaz:

A former Islamist extremist himself who spent four years in prison for his former convictions; Nawaz is seen here on Larry King  in the US discussing his experiences and the narrative of the war on terror and within Islam itself. He is one of the co-founders of the Quilliam foundation, a London Based Anti-extremist think tank.

Sherhbano Taseer:

Journalist and daughter of Salman Taseer; Governor of Punjab who was recently murdered by his own bodyguard for criticizing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.  Despite such a personal loss at the hands of extremists Taseer remains hopeful for the future of her country and the direction of Islam generally.

Both Nawaz and Taseer represent the moderate, tolerant, rational and reasoned side of Islam that is often not presented in our media or which is often ignored by opportunistic and unprincipled politicians.

Both of them risk their lives taking the positions they do and yet they still choose to publicly stand against ignorance, bigotry and hate.

Such courage should be applauded and receive far more prominence in western discourse on Islam than it does. Just as Scott Roeder, (the abortion Dr killer.), Terry Jones (“Burn a Quran day) or the Westboro Baptist Church do not represent all Christians neither do Osama Bin Laden, Malik Mumtaz Qadri (Salman Taseer’s murderer) or fundamentalist Islamists represent all Muslims.

No people should all be painted with the same brush. Nawaz and Taseer remind all of us of what should be obvious: that there are good and decent people of courage, conviction, compassion and reason in every culture and religious group. People would do well to remember this instead of buying into the hysteria so common in the discussion of Islam and Muslims in Western discourse.


~ by benephobia on February 22, 2011.

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