Originally posted in The Huffington Post
President Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University is not doing himself any favors by spewing ambiguously dangerous statements that promote the killing of Muslims. It is the most reckless type of demagoguery that can lead to further endangering or loss of more innocent lives.
Instead he should have just focused on the fourteen lives that were taken in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, and, in their remembrance, united everyone. No doubt it was a crime against humanity, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent human life. Mr. Falwell has not done justice by dividing this great country on the basis of his personal misunderstandings and hate of Islam.
But Mr. Trump has also jumped on to this bandwagon of hate against Islam and Muslims. In his slogan of “making this country great again” he has politically used Muslims as scapegoats to say that they are a threat to this country’s safety.
When President Obama addressed the world by saying that Muslims are our greatest allies and not enemies, Mr. Trump’s counter speech promoted the idea of banning Muslims from abroad. A presidential candidate like him should have a little more maturity than to put out gaffes like these.
In fact, Mrs. Clinton has said that this kind of rhetoric “helps to create this clash of civilizations that is actually a recruiting tool for ISIS.” Basically ISIS uses the same rhetoric against western civilization to recruit and radicalize youths like Farouk Syed and Tashfeen Malik.
Extremism, whether it is with ISIS or with both of these persons’ views, has no place in a civilized dialogue and society. It is high time that some Americans come to a realization and stop believing their narratives about Islam as a violent ideology that teaches intolerance.
Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion that values human life, so much so, that the Quran equates each human life to be worth as much as all of humanity (Quran 5:33). Muslims greet each other with the salutations of “peace be with you” or ‘usalam o alaikum’ in Arabic as a ubiquitous greeting. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and 2.6 million in the United States. If Islam’s core values were violent, than the number of terrorist attacks within this country alone would have been unfathomable.
If our memories serve us correctly the biggest terrorist attack prior to 9/11 was committed by a white extremist and anti-government person named Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 men, women, and children. In addition, New America Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, did a study that found white extremists by far the most dangerous group out there and have killed twice as many Americans as Islamic terrorists have, 48 in comparison to 26 since 9/11. These included the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting and Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, S.C.,
Also, there is another threat besides Islamic terrorism that America is facing today and that is, mass shootings by unstable individuals. An in-depth investigative report by USA Today based on FBI reported data on mass shootings (FBI defines it as 4 or more fatalities) uncovered a total of 172 between 2006 and 2011 alone. According to this, there is a mass shooting every two weeks.
These stats tell a different story than the one Mr. Falwell and Mr. Trump have come to believe about what is actually happening in America in relation to so-called “Islamic” terrorism. Instead these stats say that America should be more worried about homegrown terrorism or possibly mentally unstable people who are committing mass shootings instead of immigrant Muslims.
Youth radicalization and extremist indoctrination is a problem today and no one is denying that but instead of distancing yourselves from Muslims, make them your biggest allies. In a recent article in Times magazine, Dr. Bilal Rana, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association in America, said these very words after he was temporarily detained at a Houston airport, “I am not your enemy, I am your biggest ally.”
Muslims are among the first to support and protect this great country. One of the main examples is the Ahmadiyya Musilm Community, the largest worldwide Muslim organization under a single spiritual leadership. This community fully supports the basic Islamic tenet of loyalty to one’s country.
After the Paris shootings, Americans felt vulnerable too and many state governors vowed to not let Syrian refugees settle in their states. But the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community took the balanced approach by keeping security and compassion in mind. He said, “All genuine refugees should be helped by governments and international organizations. They should be allowed to settle until peace is restored in their home countries. However, it is also important that the authorities remain vigilant and monitor the refugees to ensure that extremists are not allowed to settle under the guise of asylum.”
So Mr. Falwell, let us leave the apprehension of criminals and terrorists in the hands of the authorities and law enforcement personnel, not average citizens. And Mr. Trump if you want to make this country great again, then unite with Muslims as your biggest allies to catch potential terrorists before they harm anyone. Finally, we as American citizens should all remain vigilant to ensure the complete security of this great country for the sake of our future generations and us.