Re: “Standing up for religion” (Nov. 13). When I read Joe Carlsmith’s column about the recent shooting carried out by Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood, I thought it was great. And then I read the comments on the News’ Web site.
They seemed to fit the trend of Islamophobic comments responding to almost every article in the News that is even remotely connected to Islam and Muslims. Many — like the commenter who wrote, “The real islamophobia is when people, including smart people, can’t accurately and honestly criticize Islam for its preaching of murder,” or the one who wrote, “To pretend Islam is not connected to terrorism, warfare and cruelty is to pretend the sun circles earth” — suggested that Islam is an inherently violent religion simply because some Muslims, a very tiny minority, happen to favor unjustified violence.
I find it puzzling that many Americans, and especially some segments of the American media, expect the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims to answer for the actions of some of their co-religionists. Why should all Muslims feel pressured to loudly distance themselves from acts like Hasan’s and plead that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why is Islam — the religion, the historical tradition, the culture, its followers — judged by the acts of a destructive few, but when other groups carry out equally destructive acts, they don’t have to defend their religion or even their nationality?
Intentionally killing innocent people is wrong, no matter who carries it out or for what higher purpose. It seems, however, that Muslims are unjustifiably singled out. In the past hundred years, millions of innocent civilians have died at hands of campaigns like Stalin’s in the Soviet Union or Hitler’s in Germany. But we did not blame all Soviets and we did not blame all Germans for the crimes. Similarly, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki deliberately targeted civilian areas, but American citizens were not held responsible.
It is, of course, necessary to condemn atrocities such as the one committed at Fort Hood, but it is not alright to extend collective responsibility on an entire community, be that community based on a religion, nationality or race. Muslims should be expected to condemn this man’s actions, but not because they are members of the same faith community. They should simply condemn his actions as human beings.
Syed Salah Ahmed
The writer is a junior in Saybrook College.