The Right Way To Approach Hate And Discrimination


Originally Published in The Daily Caller 

Here’s a painful reality no one wants to hear.

In 2013 Israel forcibly administered birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women, and did so without their consent or knowledge. Likewise, more than half of the 135,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel live in poverty, and only half even have a high school diploma. The recent police brutality against Ethiopian Jews in Israel has again highlighted what many Ethiopian Jews consider ongoing racism and prejudice by Israelis and the Israeli government.

As a non-Jew I can approach this reality in two manners.

The first option is to recognize that an injustice exists, promulgated by a minority of people in Israel, and work to root out the ignorance and racism causing the aforementioned matters. I would become an ally to those Jews who oppose racism and injustice. I would recognize that the vast majority of Jews do. And I would offer myself as a support to create bridges of justice, understanding, and pluralism.

The second option is to demonize Judaism and all Jews, assume that the minority of intolerant Jews actually represent all Jews everywhere, hold a conference mocking Jews under the guise of free speech, invite racist hatemongers to lecture at that conference, and then play victim when people call me a bigot.

Because Islam teaches me to build bridges of understanding, promote universal freedom of conscience, recognize the equality of all humanity, and to remain always just — even in the face of injustice — I cannot possibly entertain the second option. In response to the injustice faced by Ethiopian Jews, I seek to find bridges of understanding and pluralism, not demonization of all Judaism or all Jews.

Therefore, I found it ironic, obscure, and nothing less than uncivilized when an anti-Islam hate group, led by an extremist far right hate monger who identifies as Jewish, launched a “Draw Muhammad Contest” in Texas under the guise of free speech. The hate group demonized all Islam and the world’s billions of Muslims by judging them according to the acts of a few extremists. The hate group invited the racist and anti-Islam bigot Geert Wilders to lecture at that conference. And the hate group succeeded only in providing more propaganda to extremists to falsely allege that Americans and Jews are anti-Islam.

We — meaning the rest of society who rises above bigotry and incivility — won’t fall for it. We recognize that free speech is a sacred right. We recognize that violence is never an acceptable response to incendiary and uncivilized speech, no matter how childish and ignorant such speech is. Indeed, the shooters who attacked the anti-Islam hate rally find no refuge in Islam or any civilized society. And we also recognize that those shooters do not represent anyone but their own vain twisted desires.

I’ve already written how Islam champions free speech, how ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, and how Muslim leadership emphatically condemns all forms of terrorism. There’s no shortage of such statements from Muslims the world over.


About the author

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Qasim Rashid

Qasim Rashid is a best-selling and critically acclaimed author, practicing attorney, visiting fellow at Harvard University's Prince AlWaleed bin Talal School of Islamic Studies, and national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.

Qasim’s new book #TalkToMe: Changing the Narrative on Race, Religion, & Education is due out in December 2015. #TalkToMe is a non-fiction memoir on how the power of dialogue can overcome racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and violence.

Previously, Qasim published EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere (2014), which became an Amazon #1 Best Seller on Islam.

Qasim’s first solo-authored work is the critically acclaimed book, The Wrong Kind of Muslim: An Untold Story of Persecution & Perseverance (2013).

Qasim regularly publishes on TIME, The Huffington Post, Washington Post, Daily Caller, and CNN. His work has additionally appeared in USA Today, The Daily Beast, National Public Radio, Virginia Pilot, among various other national and international outlets. He also regularly speaks at a variety of universities and houses of worship, and interviews in a variety of media including the New York Times, FOX News, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International, Huff Post Live, Al Jazeera, NBC, CBS, Voice of America, among several other national and international outlets.

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