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Moderate Muslims Respond to an Extremist Representation
Following the multiple decapitations carried out by Muslim extremists in the recent weeks in France, moderate Muslims have been highly proactive in insisting that these Islamic state extremists should not be representative of their religion and its values. This highlights a very important issue of the confliction that can occur between religious versus national identity, and what it means to align one’s self with both of these identities. One Muslim person interviewed stated, “they are doubly affected, because this crime touched one of our countrymen and because this crime was carried out in the name of our religion”.
This is an extremely relevant issue in an age where media so heavily affects people’s perceptions of the world. When all that a western person sees in the media regarding the faith of Islam is the actions of extremist groups carrying out acts of terror in the name of said religion, it is easy for someone to develop biases regarding the Islamic faith.
The head of France’s largest Mosque rallied Moderate Muslims in a demonstration of their unity against these terrorist acts. While many people of multiple backgrounds supported and admired this demonstration, others were troubled by it, in an argument that said Muslim’s should not feel the need to “apologize” for the acts of extremists to which they have no affiliation.
Moderate Muslim leaders battle now, as they have for several years, to paint the church of Islam in a positive and attractive light, to not just external cultures and religions, but to their own youth. This is a task easier said than done though, as France has demonstrated their disapproval of certain Moderate Muslim customs, such as the prohibition of face-hiding veils and headscarves in schools. Growing up in a world in which one’s religion and faith is under constant scrutiny and suspicion, Moderate Muslim leaders have recognized that they see how these extremist groups are able to appeal to their youth in a desire for terrorist out lash.
It seems as though the Islamic faith in under attack from all directions, even from within. These moderate Muslims struggle with juggling the identities of their faith and their identified nationality. “According to Islam, nobody is allowed to be evil to others. Nobody has the right to do such a thing. I am against everything they do… like every sane person is”, says congregant Omar Jamak. Moderate Muslims fight against those who they claim wrongfully represent their faith to external cultures, those who perceive such representations as truths, those who impose religious restrictions due to these biases, and those who have turned away from their religion due to its’ constant scrutiny.
This news story demonstrates the complicated nature that comes with identifying with and against multiple groups due to conflicting or resonating ideologies. Can two relatively separate identities exist harmoniously, or does one identity need to be chosen and thus prioritized over the other?