Beyond Guilt by Association | Sojourners

Beyond Guilt by Association

Are American Muslims doing enough to combat radicalization within our own communities?

That's the question at the center of hearings called by Rep. Peter T. King of New York, the first set of which were held in March. The opening session featured, among others, two families in which young men -- a son and a nephew -- had been radicalized, a Muslim doctor from Arizona whose testimony echoed King's concerns, and the head of the nation's largest sheriff department, Los Angeles' Lee Baca, whose testimony affirmed that Muslims are strong partners in our common battle against extremists.

But the most powerful testimony came from Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. He broke down in tears when telling the story of Salman Hamdani, a Muslim-American paramedic who, upon hearing of the attacks, rushed to the site of the World Trade Center to help his fellow Americans and died there in the crumbling buildings.

I have heard this question a million times: Why don’t Muslims denounce terrorism more? This question is a little like asking a person, "When did you stop kicking your dog?" The very setup assumes complicity and criminality on the part of the questioned. The truth is, mainstream Muslims detest the infection of radicalization far more than do other people, and are just as frequently the targets of terrorists who call themselves Muslim as other Americans.

Second, all life is precious to Muslims, so the loss of life anywhere is something to be grieved. It is anathema to hear Arabic prayer as the soundtrack to heinous murder.

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