Nearly two weeks after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo claimed the lives of 12 people, a dangerous trend once again was sighted in the media and among the public. Every time a terror attack happens at the hands of alleged Muslims, it seems every Muslim organization or even individual should publicly condemn the attack or be considered an extremist as well.
There is a distinction to make here. By supporting these vile attacks, you become an extremist or a radical, that much is true; but not condemning each and every one of them publicly does not mean you support terrorism or share the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham's (ISIS) ideas in any way. However, our Western colleagues don't seem to remember the essence of modern law: "Innocent until proven guilty."
There are many instances of this bias, and quite frankly, we can even identify this as religious profiling and bigotry. The latest one was during an interview with Arasalan Iftikhar. The host Don Lemon asked Mr. Iftikhar: "Do you support ISIS?" The question came after the guest had condemned the attacks minutes before, but since the answer apparently didn't satisfy Lemon, he chose to ask it "specifically." After being stunned by the absurdity of the question, Mr. Iftikhar continued the interview; but since then, the interview has become subject to much controversy.
Let's put Arasalan Iftikhar under a magnifying glass and see if he fit any of the criteria – other than being a Muslim – of someone who is a radical extremist? He is an international human rights lawyer and also author of a book called "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era." Also, he has had many articles and interviews in most of the major outlets in the United States. To me he doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who would support ISIS. What do you think?
So why did Lemon ask that pointless question? Was it simply a gaffe? Or was it a sign of a mindset many of the media carried post-9/11? I'll leave it to you to decide.
Muslims weren't the first victims of this generalization though. Even after decades since World War II, there are still remnants of a post-war mindset that requires every German citizen to apologize for the Nazis.
There is another downside to this condemnation ritual apart from the obvious double standard. By saying it over and over, words lose their meaning. Since every major Muslim country and organization condemns terrorist attacks and says, "This is not the actual Islam," the truth gets drowned in the banality. The condemnations become inadequate to prove one's innocence in the eyes of the West. All should realize though that just because a beheading gets more coverage than a peace summit doesn't mean the former is more widespread in the Muslim world.
Indeed, we also condemned the attacks in last week's issue, but it wasn't because we felt guilty or responsible for the attack. It was the attack on freedom of expression and the deaths of our fellow journalists that outraged us, as well as the senseless deaths of human beings.
Nevertheless if you still insist you need to hear the condemnations of every Muslim in order to not declare them terrorists, Daniel Haqiqatjou seems to be developing an app called iCondemn. He said: "According to my calculations, we need to be denouncing things at 50 times the volume and at least 20 times the speed to meet all the demand. The problem is that all that denunciation takes a lot of time and resources. We need a 21st century solution to this problem. That's why I am developing the world's first Muslim denunciation app: The iCondemn®!" Indeed, a satirical view of this grim issue.