Walid: Attacking Islam isn’t the solution


12:07 a.m. EST January 14, 2015

Nolan Finley’s Jan. 11 column, “Coddling of Islam fueled Paris attack,” has three problematic propositions that are inflammatory, not corrective.

The two al-Qaida affiliated French extremists who attacked Charlie Hebdo over a disdainful portrayal of the prophet Muhammad do not even constitute .00001 percent of France’s Muslim population, which exceeds 5 million. Likewise, the extremists who attempted to assassinate a Danish cartoonist in 2006 over a similar caricature constitute a ridiculously low percentage of Danish Muslims.

The millions of European Muslims who reacted with peaceful disdain to these cartoons continue to be ignored. Surely, Finley would never make the leap to paint Christianity as having a problem with intolerance despite the fact that domestic terrorism and hate crimes have always taken place in America by white males motivated by perverse political agendas cloaked in Christianity.

Also Islam is not treated like other religions by France, as Finley falsely opined. In 2009, Maurice Sinet faced charges of “inciting racial hatred” and was fired from Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon that he drew which was insulting to Jewish people. To question the statistics or facts surrounding the Holocaust in France is done under the threat of criminal prosecution in France as well. As much as I am against anti-Semitic cartoons and Holocaust denial, I am also against hypocrisy. There should be a universal standard of civility and sensitivity applied to all, instead of the French model, in which it is socially repugnant and even illegal to mock certain people while it is acceptable to defame Islam and draw racist cartoons about Africans and Arabs.

Furthermore, the majority of victims of extremists since our misguided foray into Iraq have been Muslims. These victims also include Muslim journalists. The murders in France were tragic indeed, but the subtle implication or erasure in Finley’s commentary is that the lives of Westerners hold more value than others. For instance, in recent days a reported 2,000 persons, mainly Muslims, were killed in Northern Nigeria. This was Nigeria’s 9/11, yet I have not seen calls for solidarity with Nigeria and its Muslim victims.

Muslims in France are not compelled to assimilate to the dominant culture’s views, as American Muslims are not obligated by law to assimilate into the social construct of American whiteness. Muslims, however, must obey the laws of the lands which we reside in. Obeying laws means that we also have the right to peacefully protest against Islamophobia and racism, which we have and will continue to do.

To say that increasing insults toward French Muslims, who are a marginalized group and subjected to double standards, is the proper response to the Paris attack was simply irresponsible.

Dawud Walid, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan

Metro area Muslims fear backlash over massacre


Written by Derek Draplin, The Detroit News 11:23 p.m. EST January 8, 2015

Metro Detroit Muslim leaders condemned Thursday the terrorist attack on a French satirical publication that killed 12 people in Paris and worried about possible retribution against Muslims here and in other countries.

“The event is disgusting. We send our condolences to our friends and those who lost loved ones,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We are concerned about backlash against Muslims in the west.”

The attack, which is suspected to have been committed by two brothers with ties to a Yemeni terrorist network, occurred Wednesday at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The publication had been threatened for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, yet continued to publish its satire.

Metro Detroit mosques aren’t taking any new security measures but remain on alert against possible threats, said Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, co-chairman of the Imams Council with the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, Muslims are “always vigilant, more vigilant than ever before,” Elturk said.

He speculated that the lower socioeconomic status of the attackers in France “made them more vulnerable to Muslim extremists.”

The Imams Council said it “deplored” the killings in a statement Thursday. “We ask all people of conscience to not paint the entire Muslim people with the same brush,” the statement said.

Imad Hamad, executive director of the American Human Rights Committee in Dearborn, which promotes human rights advocated in a 1948 United Nations declaration, said the attack “violates basic human decency.”

“It violates the fundamental principles of Islam and should not be attributed to Islam or Muslims under any circumstances,” Hamad said.

Saeed A. Khan, a lecturer in Near East Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, said most Muslims in America are deeply disturbed by the Paris attack, yet remain vigilant for any blowback against the community.

“It’s events like this that have the ability and potential for backlash,” Khan said.

“This kind of brutality and violence is categorically condemned by Muslims all around,” he said, and doesn’t exist “in any (Islamic) religious scripture — either in the Quran or tradition of the prophet.”

Others in the community were concerned that the attacks would overshadow recent contributions Muslims have made to Detroit, including a $100,000 donation given Wednesday by two Muslim groups to the Detroit Water Fund that helps city residents make overdue payments on their water bills.

“Our community is engaged every day with free health clinics and other programs,” said Victor Ghalib Begg, a senior adviser to the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

“We’re doing all these good things every day, then a crazy guy did what he did in the name of religion,” Begg said.

The attacks have stirred discussion of the relationship between free speech and the Muslim community. Khan said most Muslims embrace free expression and their faith without resorting to violence.

“Muslims are very sensitive of depictions of the prophet. This is countered by the sacrality of freedom of expression,” Khan said. “It seems as though that’s where the debate is going now regarding this event.”

Walid also cautioned people not to merely reduce the issue to free speech.

“The publisher should not have been murdered, it’s a crime against humanity … but I don’t think he’s some kind of martyr for free speech,” he said. “I would caution people not to simplify this just as a free speech issue.”