How Islamophobia Breeds Extremism

March 15, 2006
Zainub Razvi

"I don't mean to sound harsh or anything but I don't like what the Muslim people believe in, according to the Koran. Because I think they preach hate", said so one of the many ordinary Americans interviewed by the Washington Post as a part of a joint Washington Post-ABC News poll about the image of Islam and Muslims in America.

The poll found that 46 percent Americans had a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after 9/11 when Muslims were often targeted.

This growing anti-Muslim, anti-Islam sentiment is not just restricted to the US. A similar poll conducted by officials in the UK earlier in 2002, also showed similar results. These poll results were confirmed 2 years later in the findings of a national commission into Islam in Britain that found that the aftermath of 9/11 had certainly made life more difficult for Muslims, and that "persistent and un-tackled Islamophobia in the UK could lead to 'time-bombs' of backlash and bitterness".

And I can bet safely that a world-wide poll among non-Muslims would reveal similarly disturbing results. I was born, bred and live in a Muslim country, so thankfully, I have not been exposed to such feelings in real life, but you come across it nevertheless.

Just a little look around the blogosphere can be enough proof.

Right here at Desicritics, a fellow blogger actually declared Islam a "fundamentally incorrect" religion, not only this, he actually suggested all religions were "irrational". In another post, a commenter termed all Muslims "brainwashed" people, followers of a "murderer" Prophet and "an evil religion".

Then we also have people like Daniel Pipes, who label all individual Islamists as being part of "a totalitarian movement", adding that they must be "considered potential killers". Yet despite this he dismisses Islamophobia as a "baseless" phenomenon. What's more, he even has advice for us; "instead of presenting themselves as victims" he argues "Muslims should address this fear by developing a moderate, modern, and good-neighbourly version of Islam that rejects radical Islam, jihad, and the subordination of "infidels".

This fits Stephen Schwartz' definition of Islamophobia as "the condemnation of the entirety of Islam and its history as extremist, denying the existence of a moderate Muslim majority, regarding Islam as a problem for the world, treating conflicts involving Muslims as necessarily their own fault, insisting that Muslims make changes to their religion, and inciting war against Islam as a whole" just about perfectly, doesn't it?

Ironic, isn't it, that despite the extreme nature of some of these comments, it will always be Islam at the end of the day that will be seen as the villain in the eyes of the majority. It never crosses most people's mind that declaring Islam as a fundamentally incorrect, evil religion is just about as extreme and radical as al-Qaeda urging all Muslims to do Jihad against America.

What the al-Qaeda and other anti-West, anti-American voices do is forget, and very conveniently, that you cannot put a same marker around what is a very large group of people, because for every Daniel Pipes out there, there is sure to be a Juan Cole as well.

The Islamophobists do the same thing. Earlier this week commentating on the results of very poll spoken of earlier, Juan Cole did an excellent analysis of the situation, but the bit that resonates with me most was as follows:

All human beings are the same. They all have the same emotions. All laugh when happy and weep when sad. There are no broad civilizations that produce radically different behavior in human beings. All are capable of violence. (Christians killed tens of millions in the course of the 20th century, far, far more than did Muslims).

All, are also, I may add, capable of being civilized and rational. Is it really that hard to see how indiscriminate hatred for any faith or its followers is much more likely to entice yet more response from the extremists than it is to encourage the moderate ones to come out and make them selves counted? What good does breeding hate achieve any way?

What makes people think that blaming Islam as being the real reason will stop the extremists? It riles them further if anything, and if anything it unsettles even the moderate Muslims. A while back, I was asked, "Will the moderate Muslims please stand up and make themselves counted?" Perhaps today is the time to ask the moderate non-Muslims to please stand up and let themselves be counted.

Zainub is an opinionated dreamer, intermittent blogger, massive sports fan and aspiring journalist recently liberated from studying boring dentistry. She blogs at Kaleidoscope, freelances for Spider and Sci-Tech World both part of the Dawn media group, and also writes at ezines Desicritics and Chowk. She is currently majoring in General History and minoring in International Relations and Mass Media Communications/Journalism at the University of Karachi.
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March 15, 2006
02:30 AM

Very insightful, Zainub, it's a pity such articles need to be written, thanks for writing and sharing with us

March 15, 2006
02:55 AM

If most of the terrorist killings in the world today are not being effected in the name of Islam, there would be no need for inventing a bogeyman called "Islamophobia". In a videotaped speech after 9/11 Osama bin Laden said, "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no God but Allah and his prophet is Mohammad." These lines come from hadith, scripture that Muslims regard as holy.

Don't try to shout down the peaceful critics of Islam and Islamic terrorism. Shout down instead the extermists within in Islam.

March 15, 2006
03:17 AM

Zainub, a very good question to ask. The world is run by extremist voices and it takes a lot for reasonable, moderate voices to be heard. More often than not, the moderate voices get drowned out in the cacophony of extremism. But one of the issues facing any social discourse is this - moderate voices will not be heard precisely because the people that need to make such noises are moderate. They are not comfortable with taking the measures that are necessary for their voices to be heard. If they did, they would feel themselves non-moderate. And if they don't talk in the shrill voice necessary to be heard, they will not be countenanced because middle of the road positions are not attractive, they don't suck people in, they don't look good as headlines.

Does any of this make sense?

March 15, 2006
05:05 AM

Kind Madam,

I do understand that joining issue with such views as yours becomes tiresome after a certain point. This is so because the discourse seems to meander into cross-purposes.

But certain points need to be restated firmly.

When such terror attacks seems to continue unabated and When innocents are brutally murdered, there would be questions raised about this Ideology of Islam and whether it is really a Religion of Peace as professed.

This is so because people want to find answers and want to really understand the motivations of these killers. Some end up finding the answers in "Islamic Grievances". It is a pretty long list. Others, very uncharitably, seem to find the answers right in the religious texts itself. The messages in the religious text are actually extreme, and this seems to be a fact when translations in English of the Quran and the Hadiths are read.

The only point separating the moderate and the extremist is maybe just the extent of "belief" he holds. And here, one must also note that a moderate can any day turn into an Extremist. Well read and articulate individuals therefore must not attempt to wish away all these issues by claiming "Islamophobia" in others.

The understanding of some individuals of this Islamic terrorism, the killing of innocents as originating from religious islamic texts itself must not be equated with the murderous actions of terror organizations.

March 15, 2006
05:16 AM

When all religions have been used as justification for terrible acts, can the faithful really be surprised that non-believers get the idea that all religions are irrational? If religion really makes you a morally better person then why is it that so many atrocities have been committed by both christians and muslims?

March 15, 2006
05:47 AM

No religion is bad. To target any religion specificly because of crimes of a few speaks of short sightedness, not tackling the real issue.

March 15, 2006
08:45 AM

dissapointing that some people actually believe those extremist who are merely politicians using islam as a facade to gain power n people, we all know politicians are pigs, i as a muslim know that we are not supposed to "fight the people" untill all are believers, we are to peacefully invite them, never to force, to coexist with those that do not harm us, perhaps a third party is interfering with the translations, the media, a third party that hates islam, jews maybe, maybe not.do u people know wat the israeli flag means? something about two rivers and the land between them , long story short, control between all the land between the two rivers, which is pretty much all the arab world, sorry but i do not remember which river and all the details.

March 15, 2006
09:07 AM

Zainub, I'm sure moderate muslims like you are pained at the anti-muslim sentiment in the world. But can you blame them if all they see are bombings and mayhem being perpetrated in the name of islam?

Unlike grievances with people of other religious pursuasion, any issue with a majority Muslim component turns into a religious issue.

I mean take a look:
i) Iraq - Muslim v/s America (Why not Iraq v/s America?)

ii) Kashmir - Muslim v/s Hindu (Why not Kashmiris v/s govt policies?)

iii) Chechnya - Muslim v/s Russia (Why not Chechnya v/s Russian policies?)

iv) Xinjiang - Muslims v/s China (Why not Xinjiang residents v/s Chinese policies?)

Anil Menon
March 15, 2006
09:09 AM

Zainub: Agreed with most of your points. As Clinton said, Islamophobia is anti-semitism for the 21st century. The most appalling statements about Islam may be issued without any fear of being called a racist, sexist or anti-semite. The Jews used to be in a very similar position; however, they were blamed not for violence but for usury, conspiracy, racial pollution and treachery.

March 15, 2006
09:10 AM

try and remember what your own flag means

nobody targets any religion

we are trying to stop fanatic killings

it is nonsense to kill in the name of God

God only does good

He wants you to be good

not a killer

not a taker of life

Truth with a Capital T
March 15, 2006
09:26 AM

Have you really read your holy book, the Quran? I mean you no harm and respect your righty to worship as you please, but your god is a joke to me and I laugh at your pitiful beliefs. Now read your book and see what should happen to someone like me.

March 15, 2006
09:28 AM

Before expecting non-muslims to be so open to islam and muslims, I think muslims themselves should realize that they are not the *only religious people with sincere and honest feelings about their religion* and they must be open to their surroundings and other cultures and religions first.

I live in Turkey, where majority are muslims, and where majority of these muslims are culturally uneducated and quite vandal either in terms of thought process, or in terms of carrying out certain behaviours and reactions.

A common characteristic I see in muslims all around me, and often in posts written by other muslims, is that they almost always demand. They demand understanding, they demand respect, honesty etc. They just demand. No, They don't ask, they don't say, or even think to themselves things like "it would be nice of you to think of us as good people, but if you don't, then I'm sorry that there's nothing I can do to help". They just demand it, and try to impose it like "We are good and if you don't think so, then you are bad!".

When their expectations are not met, they become notably hostile. The slightly better among them will keep to themselves, speaking behind your back to each other, cursing you. Others will often see no problem in making a scene.

Their mindsets are still back in the middle ages. Criticism and satire are only one-way. They can do it to others in any way they can to the extreme, but others can't do it. If they do, they will speak up as if they are defending some lost religious rights.

Now, according to the Kur'an, islam really is supposed to be a religion of understanding and compassion. However this is a trait that doesn't seem to be shared by the majority. There are definitely decent and kind muslims who have reached some degree of enlightment through their religion's teaching, evading outside and malicious influences.

And the problem lies within following those teachings accurately. Average muslim doesn't know much about his/her own religion. They learn their religion through the acts of their parents while growing up, which are immensely limited to the physical presentation of worshipping, the customs of specific holy days, and the tell-tales of passages from Kur'an. There is an underlying philosophy and a way of thinking to be learnt in every religion and islam is no different. However, most of muslims are missing those vital parts.

They have no idea about the history and evolution of their religion. They more or less know how their prophet lived and died, and that's it.

A recent example is the caricature crisis. I won't comment on the caricatures themselves; the thing to be noted is the response from muslims, in various ways. A muslim following the teachings of islam, sure can comment about such things and criticise it, but is not supposed fight back in any *active* way. Islam suggests compassion and understanding, and a good muslim would only react by his calmness and keep to himself/herself, deciding to spend his/her precious time on better things like working, worshipping his God and helping those in need.

If you would believe the reactions from muslim communities, besides the disrespectful depictions, their reaction is due to the facial depiction of Muhammed, which is supposedly forbidden in islam.

While this is completely untrue, as this belief developed centuries after Muhammed's death and there are quite some material depicting Muhammed completely with his face before, it doesn't matter even if that were the truth. No belief could impose such a censorship on any historical figure, no matter what. If islam indeed forbid it, than it would only mean forbidding muslims to create facial depictions of Muhammed. What others do shouldn't be a concern for any muslim. But, wouldn't it be nice if muslims got their history right and knew that there is no such thing as forbiddan facial depiction of Muhammed?

Also, Islam is supposed to be over such mortal issues. If there is something wrong about it, God will surely punish them in afterlife and if not, they will understand why because in afterlife, muslims will gain comprehension of everything that were uncomprehendable to them in mortal life.

Additionally, no members of any religion have gone to such lengths as muslims in transforming their reaction into physical and violent behaviours in modern world. Buddhist don't cause riots in the street. Actually they are so immersed with their religion, they don't even waste time on such things. Something Kur'an tells muslims to do, but none but few seem to care. Comprehend this; average muslim doesn't care or listen what his holy book says, and assumes fictional holy rules!
Likewise, christians, jews or what have you, none do what muslims do.

The way they are treated today, muslims are definitely playing the spoiled child today, who starts crying and acting immature whenever something they don't like comes up. They are sensitive only when it's about them.

There's no denying that there's a huge prejudice against islam, but that's really muslims' own doing. However, simplifying things like I did here is another form of nonsense, because there are more serious variations in work, like the economical situation of most muslims, which is a direct modifier on any person's ability of thinking. But in the end, nothing changes the fact that, from a mental point of view, disregarding everything else, muslims are the ones doing themselves a disservice in means of social acceptance and compassion.

March 15, 2006
10:33 AM

In India ask any Indian except a Muslim, where are you from. he will say I am from Bengal, Phjab, Gujerat, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, whatever.

But ask a Mussulman, and he will just say, I am a Muslim.

Try it out.

March 15, 2006
10:36 AM

am a bit skeptical

this is an endless and thankless task

don't know where to begin

one of my first posts here was on a talk hamid mir delivered in DC....let me see if i can retrieve that and start off on that to make the point about suicide bombings....and then go from there...maybe

curious critic
March 15, 2006
10:57 AM

1) Before calling Islam a religion of peace, perhaps you should read the Koran itself. It is undeniably a book that preaches hate towards, and unquestionable superiority over, non-muslims. The ethical codes prescribed by it for practicing muslims are regressive, even barbaric in some cases, by modern standards.

2) I agree that not all Muslims are terrorists or extremists. But if you've read the Koran, you'll realize that the terrorists are the ones most closely following it, and the liberal/moderate muslims are the ones that are selectively ignoring and applying various passages of the Koran.

What's happening is that people are actually reading the book that Muslims call holy, and they don't like it once bit. And muslims all over the world are really shooting themselves in the foot when they say that they hold this book sacred and everything in it as true.

Muslims are not by nature any better or worse than any other religion, but I'm convinced that the closer and less selectively once follows the Koran, the LESS tolerant, compassionate, peaceful and compromising one becomes.

(By the way, I am by birth a Hindu, and I'm not impressed by the books that Hindus call holy either. I dare anyone calling Hinduism a religion of peace to defend the Bhagvad Gita.)

March 15, 2006
11:23 AM

....here is the pertinent part from that post

On Suicide Bombing and Loss of Civilian Life

journalist and TV interviewer Hamid Mir...(Geo TV host and columnist for the News and the daily Jang)...was on CSPN some months back...he is the last known journalist to have interviewed OBL...and he talked of that interview and others he has had with OBL...

...he asked OBL to cite one single quote or illustration from Qur'an that justified the taking of one single innocent human life ...Hamid Mir said OBL talked on and on without convincingly satisfying him...finally after about three and a half hours an exhausted and visibly tiring OBL turned the question over to his aide abu musa zarqawi...who also failed to cite a single quote from the Qur'an...

more later

March 15, 2006
11:25 AM

Zainub, not to be too circular but isn't the Islamophobia atleast in part caused by the extremism? I know personally a lot of Americans who were horrified at images of Palestinians cheering the destruction on 9/11. They knew they would never be happy at the deaths of other people. They couldn't understand how someone could celebrate the deaths of thousands of people. Would you blame them if they hated Muslims when the hijackers, the minds behind the hijackings and the people who cheer them on were all Muslims?

March 15, 2006
11:39 AM

yet again more people claiming that terrorists are the ones following islam closely, yet again more people saying go read the Qu'ran and you'll realize that " the Qu'ran preaches hate".

Have any of you read it beyond a few verses taken out of context,or are mistranslated, misquoted...etc ?

have any of you realized that the verses basically are telling of a story and are NOT active orders?

have any of you realized that the bible and torah have FAR more evil sounding verses than the Qu'ran ever had ? (check www.evilbible.com )

no, you're all sitting there claiming that beladin is the true muslim, and that muslims are all terrorists and that the Qu'ran is a hate inspiring book, just cause some propaganda managed to stick that to your head.

check this site:


and do a google search on "the hijacked caravan" for undeniable FACT that islam PROHIBITS suicide bombings and terrorism.

and next time someone says something like " the Qu'ran is a hate preaching book" please post the verse, and i'll post the WHOLE sura and you'll realize that it's TOTALLY taken out of context, and then i'll follow it up with evil quotes from the bible and Torah.

an example of how the Qu'ran is taken out of context, there is a verse that means " ye who believe, do not pray whilst you are drunk"
i can easily say " ye who believe, do not pray"
i would be quoting the Qu'ran, and that would be what the Qu'ran says, but it wouldn't be complete now would it?

March 15, 2006
11:53 AM

Aaman: Thanks.

Sujata: I know. I know just what you mean. It isn't easy for moderates to make themselves heard (this discussion is one example I suppose), but some how we need to keep trying. Something, after all, is better the nothing.

Ravi, Denzsi, Pankaj and others: I do not believe in a different Quran or a different Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or different Islam then does Osama Bin Laden and his followers, or the many Iranians that thought it wise to stone the Danish embassy, there is only one version of the Quran in it's Arabic form, there was only one Prophet Mohammad, and there is only one Islam. Some religious scholars around the world have interpreted the very texts the extremists use to justify their actions to prove that their actions are unIslamic. Go find out what people like Dr. Zakir Naik have said at various times, read Bah's comments, do some research if you bother, and you'll find out. The moderates and the extremists both essentially refer to the same Quran, and to the same Prophet, did it never cross your mind, that if Islam was fundamentally evil, why it only enticed only a section of its followers to extremism, and why not everyone?

This is because people chose to interpret the Quran in different ways. I do not approve of subside bombings, I do not believe in Jahadi groups whose sole aim is to recruit militants and send them to occupied territories around the world and spread violence, and I don't believe in terrorism, I also condemn the violence that came as an aftermath of the cartoons. I believe all these things are against the teachings of Islam, I do not think the Quran teaches any of this. I like to believe, that many and hopefully, the majority of the Muslims, do the same. But some I know don't, some I know are like Osama. But does this mean we should blame Islam? It is by no means the Quran's fault that some people purposely used it to project their own vested interests. The Israeli, Indian and American governments have been responsible for the killing of many innocent civilians, Muslims especially, but does this mean we should equate Hinduism, Judaism or Christianity as a fundamentally evil religion?

Sadly what this could mean is that one cannot necessarily equate all Muslims with Islam. Perhaps these two must be considered separate entities in today's day and age. Perhaps it is because of how Islam's real essence is not necessarily practiced by the most of us, including me, I might add, for which I hope Allah forgives me, that we have so many people with so many misconceptions about our faith.

Which is why I never said the Muslims them selves are immune from taking the blame. Some Muslims leaders in various Muslim states are just about as guilty of enticing Anti-West sentiment as the Western politicians and its media are of enticing Islamophobia. I vehemently condemn both. My article was not meant to defend the extremists in any way, but merely to highlight the fact that it is extremely unfair on the non-Muslisms' part to equate the actions of a few with the whole of Islam.

And yes, I know, it is important to understand the psychology and thinking of extremists, and why they are tempted to misinterpret Islam's message in this way, but that cannot be achieved by others also misinterpreting Islam in the opposite direction. We will have a much better chance of defeating the extremists if we establish that it is they, them selves, who are guilty and not their faith that is at fault. You can expect more cooperation from moderate Muslims given this happens, as it has happened, a few times, I might add.


Muslims believe that all Muslims everywhere in the world are brothers and sisters, Islamic texts refer to the entire Muslim state as an "ummah". So Muslims are required by faith to show solidarity with other Muslims at all times. The Prophet once compared the Muslim ummah to the human body in the sense of how when one part of the body hurts, all the body in general starts hurting and you feel week, that is how the Ummah should be. On numerous occasions the Quran too has sought Muslims to stay united. Sadly this is not the case. But to answer your question, you can hardly blame Muslims in one part of the world for being sympathetic with suffering Muslims in another part of the world, which is human nature, and not singular to any religion or cast. When some one you associate with, who you care for, who you love, is either happy or sad, you tend to feel a part of their happiness and sadness.

What your referring to perhaps is how politicians use this sympathy Muslims everywhere have to spread a mafia, to breed anti-West feelings, but this is nothing different from Daniel Pipes telling his readers that every Muslims should be considered as potential killer. I condemn and disapprove of both, both present a squeezed view of reality, which is full of glib generalisations.

The political elite and the media in both parties need to be held accountable; they are prime sources which influence the masses' views. I have never heard any local Muslim politician refer to the enlightened view people like Juan Cole have of Islam, yet I have heard plenty of times about the editor of JP. I have heard plenty of western media shows telling people about how Quran asks it followers to take up jihad, yet I have never heard of or seen any that try and expand, or explain this teaching beyond a one-line generalization.

How many non Muslims know that, for instance, Jihad (which literally means to struggle) is of various types, and that jihad bis saif (or Jihad by sword, that which the extremists claim to carry out) is less worthy then jihad bil ilm (or jihad by education, which, the Prophet said, was the most worthy of all jihads. Once some one came to the Prophet to seek permission take part in Jihad, the prophet asked him if his parents were alive, he said yes, then Prophet told him that the best jihad for him would be to stay back home and look after his parents.

Another type of jihad is jihad bil amal (or jihad by actions). So all this while, I've been doing jihad too, in fact, every Muslim, who lives his life peacefully and follows Allah and the Prophet's teachings, is too doing jihad. Every Muslims in the world in that sense is always doing some form of Jihad.

If both Muslim leaders and the Western Leaders, and their media, and all of us, as individuals, did less to make others believe that everyone in the world hates us and would like to kill us at the first available opportunity, extremism would come down on its own.

March 15, 2006
12:01 PM

who killed mahatma barrister gandhi ?

March 15, 2006
12:06 PM

To bah (and others):

I have not read Quran but this person did. And this is what he has to say:


Now, do not dismiss the argument on basis of false interpretation by non-Mislims. Taken objectively, there is a problem in Quran, but so is the case with many other religions. But others have learned to take the essense and not the literal meaning (and those who haven't are as barbaric as extremists). (Most of) Muslims have yet too. Good luck for them, and rest of the world.

Truth with a Capital T
March 15, 2006
12:27 PM

Very well written and enlightening. Thanks.

I have been told by a "moderate" muslim, after a discussion about the cartoons, that if I(an infidel) were to insult the prophet he would have to demand an apology. Or what? What a crazed religion.

March 15, 2006
12:31 PM

The logic of this arguement is totally skewed. But I won't elaborate, since some of the commenters above have already done that, and done it very well, at that. But here is a related post:


March 15, 2006
12:33 PM

Folks, please make your URLs links

March 15, 2006
12:41 PM

As a woman, I can never reconcile with any tenet of Islam concerning women.I do know that Arabic is delightfully ambiguous, allowing for numerous (mis)interpretations but in many places the texts make sure that the position of women is truly subservient.This is largely true of all religions but then in Hinduism the laws of Manu are merely textual and not used in civilized societies.Same with Christianity.Whereas in Islamic nations they still are.Unless someone reforms Islam (particularly in saudi arabia, Iran and other countries) I will remain a religiophobe and more so an Islamophobe.

This is one of the reasons for a negative attitude and terrorism and violence are merely additional aspects.

March 15, 2006
01:44 PM

Really feel for Amber Pawlik (yes, I did read the entire article, and it took me a while to do so). Given the tone of the article and underlying bias in it I do not know how fruitful it will be to try and have civilised conversation with a person like that, let alone try and prove him (or should that ber her) wrong, you almost expect he or she will come running at your face, and call you a stupid, idiot lair before you've even had the chance to say anything. Yes, really, it was that disturbing. Never imagined people could go to such lengths to get their point of view appears as the ultimate point of view. Never even imagined.

But I do have one link saved in my favrite folder which does make the brave attempt to try and correct one of the many misconceptions Amber has, I don't suspect many people will actually bother to read it (since you probably already know, for a fact, that the Quran teaches violence and that Islam is fundementally wrong, so what ever any one else might say contrary to this, just has to be a wrong, right), but I'll paste the link here, just for the record, and just in case.


BTW, if you've already decided that we're all evil and killers, you might as well suggest what should be done in response? I suppose your options would be a)too kill as all at once b)to kill us one by one, gradually c)do not kill us, but deprive us socially, economically, etc etc...

Please note that I am not suggesting any of you will do so, or that you should. Merely hypothezingy. I'm just wondering, exactly what your aggenda is, after establishing Islam as the problem and declaring it as the root cause of all evil and unrest in the world, where do you go from here? Just wondering, that's all.

March 15, 2006
01:51 PM

Zainub, I'm sorry it should come to this - that the level of fear you express about the state of things to come - that could have been written in 1938 by a Jew...

That being said, we must recognize that if the extremists get their way, everyone will be a Jew, if you get my point - such is the tragedy of the new world order...

March 15, 2006
01:58 PM

Aaman, I actually don't agree with the analogy of current Muslims with Jews of 1938. Jews didn't have a country to call their own that could protect them and I cannot recall any incidents of Jews trying to fight against the Germans or Italians or anyone else for that matter. There were no Jewish terrorists in 1938.

March 15, 2006
02:04 PM

Shanti, not quite correct on your final point, a few examples,

Beginning in 1936, several Jewish groups such as Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Gang) conducted their own campaigns of violence against British and Arab targets. This prompted the British government to label them both as terrorist organizations.

Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Zuri, members of the Jewish Lehi underground, assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo on 6 November 1944. Moyne was the British Minister of State for the Middle East. The assassination is said to have turned British Prime Minister Winston Churchill against the Zionist cause. Fighting Jewish terrorists on one hand and the Germans in North Africa on the other did not endear the British to the Jews in Palestine at this critical stage of the war.

The reactions are similar, the causes similar. Also, recommended reading - The Origins of Middle Eastern Terrorism

March 15, 2006
02:09 PM

Sure, Aaman - but it was not the ME people who tried to exterminate Jews - it was the Nazis. When we talk of Jews in 1938, we are always pointing to the climate of fear and persecution created by the Nazis. Whatever happened between Jewish and Arab people was not the Nazi problem. In fact, the Nazis should have been happy if JEws were giving a headache to the hated British.

March 15, 2006
02:16 PM

I think it is rather smug to suggest that no other religion breeds extremists.

Jerry Falwell, Bal Thackrey, etc are all extremists as they hold really narrow and extreme beliefs. Thackrey might even qualify to be a Terrorist, considering what his goons did on Valentines Day.

But I also believe that Muslim extremists are a breed apart due to the level of violence they have been able to perpetrate and the amount of acceptance they seem to get in some nations.

March 15, 2006
02:22 PM

Nachiketa - I think the difference as you say is in between being a madman and being a madman in power.

March 15, 2006
02:29 PM

People who tiresomeley continue with the "Read your Koran, it's filled with hate" should actually read the book along with its translation and commentary. Perhaps then they wouldn't be making such haste statements. These people must have read a thread on some Anti-Islamic forum that tries to portray the Qur'an as a book of guidance for fundamentalists without actually even referring to the book or having any real knowledge of the context or the contents of the book.

Good job with the article, Zainub.

March 15, 2006
02:34 PM

Can someone else notice the irony in Zainub's post #26? Just exachange names of Zainub and Ambar in first two paragraph, and you have whole point otherway!

By the way, here is something to cheer about:

March 15, 2006
02:35 PM

Too much hyperbole here.

"Islamophobia" is the "anti-semitism" of this century? This must be a joke, given that some of the most rabidly antisemitic people alive today are Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, the neoNazis of Europe hate Muslims far less than they hate Jews, and in fact there is a undercurrent of bonding between neonazis and Islamic fundamentalists on the issue of Jew hatred.

In late 19th and early 20th century, Jews had no homeland to call really their own. They did not persecute anybody. They did not deny religious freedoms to anybody. They did not decline modern science and learning: in fact, led both. They demanded no special rights or privileges from host socities. They abided by the laws of the socities they lived in, without complaining. There were no Jewish terrorists. Jews were long-time settlers in host scoities, not recent immigrants. Yet they were perscuted and killed in large numbers. The Jews were punished for being not only "Christ-killers" but also an industrious, successful people who defeated the odds and prospered.

CAn we say that of Muslims today? Minorities are second-class citizens in most Muslim countries. Religious tolerance is virtually non-existent in Muslim communities. Muslims who voluntarily migrated to Western socities refuse to live by the laws of those socities. Denigration of non-Muslim religious symbols is the norm in Muslim counties, yet Muslims all over the world go on a rampage demanding that Denmark conform to Islamic taboos against pictures!

Reality check: 21st century "Jews" are the non-Muslim minorities of Muslim countries. Not long ago, the Taliban of Afghanistan had exactly the same prescription for Afghani Hindus, Sikhs and Christians as German Nazis had for the Jews: they were required to wear distringuishing marks that identified them as non-Muslims. On the threshold of 21st century.

Sorry. Jews and Muslims? Not even apples and oranges.

Vikash Singh
March 15, 2006
02:35 PM


The fact that majority of Muslims do not fully comprehend Islam on their own, just like Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, Jains, and etc is perhaps the real problem with all religions. People are affected and convinced by certain individuals of what is right and what is wrong. Herein lies the problem - NOT entirely in religion as it is never practiced fully the way it was intended, but in manipulation of religious artifacts by certain individuals.

If you seriously look for moderate peaceful Islam, you will find it. There are numerous moderate peaceful Islamic voices. The mass "pop" media, searching for tools to increase their readership, always feature extremists on front page to sell issues - it is an editorial decision and a marketing one. The problem in such is that the moderate voices are always shut out because of their banality - as banality is not news. Moreover, going to man with a beard who claims to be a cleric will only speak of Islam from his learned interpretation and will NOT speak for the masses - he will speak of his religion NOT his people. Therefore, moderate Muslims are never voiced.

March 15, 2006
02:44 PM

And I did read Zainub's link. Structure of argument there goes thus:

If a rule is not followed completely, then it must be wrong.

That is why author is saying that since historically Muslims have not exterminated non-Muslims completely (they have killed though) then Quran must not be saying the part and is wrongly interpreted. I will leave you to grasp the logic yourself.

Second part of argument again hampers on "out of context" reason. Now given that Ambar has taken it all in context, but probably from outsider point of view, thus under no obligation to believe in it, debate is reduced to which one of these two is wrong?

(From my point, both can be right, and I will still reach same conclusion, by virtue of their logic)

March 15, 2006
02:46 PM

So Desi Critics which claims itself as the home of superior bloggers views a collection of few quotes as serious writing?

About Islam, less said the better. Its not a question of Christian killing or Hindu killing(only an idiot can claim that no Hindu or Christian has never killed anyone), but killing in the name of religion. The problem is that msot of terrorist derive their ideology from a pan-Islamic identity and global sense of injustice which seems to have seeped in the Muslim spirit. Is the rest of the world to be blamed when cartoon of the Prohpet create such anger among Muslims, while for the thousands who have died in terrorist attacks, there is not an iota of sympathy? I would believe what you say, if you could tell me about a march by even 100 Muslims against Al Quaida.

Zainub is from a Muslim country, may I remind her of Hadith laws and the status of minorities in her own beloved country.

Preach unto others what you practise.

March 15, 2006
02:48 PM

Actually, mainstream media don't feature extremists on the frontpage. Heck, BBC even refuses to call terrorists as terrorists.

Put yourself in the shoes of journalist Joe. He wants a regular 9-5 job, like everybody else. Wanna go home safely at the end of the day to wife and kids. Taking a stand against terrorism is almost like putting one's neck on the line. Opposing the baddies always carries a risk with it. Compromise with the evil, turn a blind eye to it, and you can actually live a peaceful life.

Except that there is another problem: for far too long, as a journalist, you masqueraded as a bold bloke who stuck his own neck out to save the citizen. Media is the eyes and ears of the people and all that. You derive your power, your privileged status in society, from your claim of speaking for the citizen. And that claim required you project yourself as a courageous crusader against all evil and injustice. And you compromise with the evil of terrorism? Want to turn the blame away from terrorists to "root causes"? Don't you risk the contempt of your audiences?

There is a way out. Make a virtue of necessity. Project your cowardice as principle. Project the terrorists and their sympathizers as underdogs. Project your compromise with evil as defence of the underdog.

That is the state of the media today. From BBC to CNN, Al Jazeera to le Monde, they all rationalizers of terrorism to various degrees. Because anything else is nuisance, if not an occupational hazard.

March 15, 2006
03:46 PM


The daily times link is not working,

Your comments about the article I linked to take me once again to a quote from that article it self:

"The worst thing to do with the Quran is to approach it seeking confirmation for what one already believes in and turning a blind eye to any evidence that is inconsistent with his/her pre-conceived attitudes and biases. Anyone can find in the Quran whatever he/she wants to prove. Anyone can do the same thing with the Bible. The challenge, however, is to make a judgment only after a thorough and exhaustive investigation of all available Quranic evidence."

And yes, I'm still looking for an answer to my question. For those who believe it is Islam and its teachings that are evil, please do suggest what you recommend should be done about it. This was not a sarcastic remark, I am interested in knowing...this might well be my fate after all, since a significant number of you think (either directly or indirectly) that I am evil, and will kill you. I'm just curious. What should you do with me, and all other Muslims you you reckon believe in an evil book and evil religion? Please tell me.

To Aaman, Shanti and others,

I don't know if we can equate Muslim condition now with that of Jews in the 1930s. I really do not know.

But I do agree with some of the comments here, Pakistan's record at treating its minorties isn't the greatest (there are numerous examples, I could dig up links from Dawn if it wasn't 1 am in the night here right now). What is sad is that not as many people come out and condemn this is strongly as it should be condemned, the English press is usually the shinning light in this respect, but there is not much else apart from this, and given the select few who have access to or chose to read the English press, it does give you a fair bit of idea about what the masses will know about it's country's record in this respect. It's just very sad and regrettable that this happens (and mostly, it's done by those some Anti-West sentiment enticing groups, that will make you want to believe every one is an enemy of Islam). But there is good and bad in every society. I have non-Muslim friends who have are very happy with their lives in Pakistan, some of them are much more sincere to Pakistan then many Muslims Pakistanis I know.

But then, aren't minorities second class citizens pretty much every where in the world? To some extent at least. People do get religiously discriminated against in the US, and at much wider scale in Europe. Numerous examples of this. The biggest perhaps are the laws in certain countries that prevent Muslims women from practicing Hijab.

I don't mean to generalise of course, some Muslims I know, who live in non-Muslims countries, are really happy with the way they are treated in their adopted homes, or in some cases, their real homes, as they were even born there.

There's good and bad in every society I guess.

March 15, 2006
04:24 PM

Here is the link again:

Regarding answer to your question: I really do not know how to solve the problem. In fact, I just pray, desperately, that it is solved, because it has to be solved from within the community itself, because outsiders either cannot understand it (which is your POV) or will be ineffective (which is general observation). Because, more than your fate, it is non-Muslim's fate you should be worried about if current situation continue. Either they will be blown up, or converted to Islam, or enslaved. Atleast that's the agenda of Lashkar-e-Taibba, or other of same ilk. There is nothing much which can happen to you, because fortunately or unfortunately, rest of the world is not as fanatic, yet. (Yes, we know Bush is one of them, but he isn't liked much all over the world).

Briefly, Islamophobia to non-fanatic Muslims is discriminatery, but survival instict for rest of the world. Which one weighs higher in priority of life? Social equality and justice, or value of life? However I know that there is nothing much you can do here. And I must congratulate you for keeping command of discussion even under severe attack from all quarters on this board. No personal offence, really.

March 15, 2006
04:27 PM

Zainub asks: What should you do with me, and all other Muslims you you reckon believe in an evil book and evil religion?

Answer: First of all, you may believe as you like as long as you do not harm anyone.
This goes for any religion.
Religion is a private matter.
It is between a man and his God.
People reckon, as you say, that you believe in an evil book and evil religion because of all the killings and bloodshed done in the name of that book and religion.
All the laws of all countries are against killing.
Therefore murder in the name of a particular religion and book is against all known laws.
Therefore this book and religion can be said to flout all laws, and break them, and whosoever kills in the name of that book and religion is committing homicide liable to the Penal Code of the country where the crime has been committed.
Anyone supporting these criminals are aiders and abettors of homicide.
In this context it is on such a large scale that it has become that Islam and Muslims have become feared potential terrorists all over the world.
No one can help you.
Countries are going to try and protect themselves from any such future attacks, which, let me say, are constantly being threatened by Muslims in many countries.
Not only you, but people who look like Muslims, or whose names sound like those of Muslims, are also singled out for extra search and examination which is humiliating.
These people are not going to bless you, either.
There is no precedent in history for this, as far as I know.
The Nazis have had to live down their actions.
It has been fifty years. People have not forgotten.
So will you have to live them down.
No one has a magic wand to wave and make everything happy again.
And as long as you keep on going off like Catherine Wheels whenever anyone says anything about your prophet, people will have every reason to think your book and religion evil.
There were two extremes of man that were born in the last century.
One was the epitome of violence - Adolf Hitler.
One was the epitome of non-violence - Mahatma Gandhi.
Who gained more respect for his country and religion?

March 15, 2006
05:08 PM

friends, ive been doing some study on islam lately.

Ashish n others, please check this link out.


it will clear many misconceptions u mite b having on islam with short, simple and logical explanations.

and about the accusation against islam that it preaches muslims to kill all non-believers,
refer to the 3rd question under this section(in the above link) - "MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED BY NON-MUSLIMS WHO HAVE SOME KNOWLEDGE OF ISLAM"
for a simple and straight forward answer.

Truth with a Capital T
March 15, 2006
05:16 PM

Zainub asks: What should you do with me, and all other Muslims you you reckon believe in an evil book and evil religion?

I ask: What should muslims do with an infidel like myself that finds your book and religion so intolerant that it borders on being evil.
I find most religion pretty funny, but if I have to choose...I have to go with the Sikhs. Cool ass knives!

March 15, 2006
05:27 PM

Repeat: There were two extremes of man that were born in the last century.
One was the epitome of violence - Adolf Hitler.
One was the epitome of non-violence - Mahatma Gandhi.
Who gained more respect for his country and religion?

March 15, 2006
05:43 PM

Vishwa: Good link. Haven't read it completely but scanned it. Definitely helps to counter the notion that Islam is not bad. Of course, some questions about terrorism are dismissed in guile of definition of various terms, but in general good. Not that it will help me make better judgement about Muslims though, as long as they misinterpreting their text, at least per this link's definition.

March 15, 2006
06:02 PM

Zainub, you know what will help change our minds? We want a fatwa against Bin Laden - a fatwa against Zarqawi - one against Mullah Omar and excommunication from the faith for all these murderers by a prominent Muslim cleric, since according to you these guys were misrepresenting Islam anyways.

I think we want Muslims to not celebrate these murderers (who are probably responsible more Muslim deaths than non-Muslim deaths).

I think in one such masterstroke, it could be established these guys don't represent Islam anymore. Why is it not happening already? Why was the entire Muslim world sitting and watching while the Taliban caned women for showing too much ankle?

p.s. I don't mean to hold you as a representative of your religion, just saying this is how Muslims can gain back confidence from the non-Muslims.

March 15, 2006
06:07 PM

But how can families of innocent muslims and their families get confidence from the west?

It is a two way insecurity and religion is not the vital aspect of it. Religion is a mere reason, an excuse.

There are countries and financial aspects involved.

When a four his hit, we praise the shot, not the bat which hit the shot. So why target a religion when it is just a tool used as suited.

March 15, 2006
10:23 PM


as i sat down to reply here...it ended up as a post On The Necessity Of An Adversary--US And The Muslims

it will show up here also shortly


March 16, 2006
01:33 AM

"Not that it will help me make better judgement about Muslims though, as long as they misinterpreting their text, at least per this link's definition."

i provided that link so that u could make a better judgement on Islam.
and to help u not understand Islam based on 'those' misinterpretations.

March 16, 2006
11:31 PM

Zainab, as an Atheist, I find the phrase "Islamophobia" to be vain, self-centred and narcissistic. I've never heard the phrase "Agnostophobia" being used by anyone. By the same token, I've not heard "Hinduphobia" being used by anyone -- not even Hindus.

Islamophobia is basically a tonic for self-centred Muslims who feel frustrated at the world not revolving around them.

Don't like backlash against terrorism in Kashmir? Chalk it up to "Islamophobia".

Don't understand why others don't like to hear you cheering the wrong cricket team? Blame "Islamophobia"

Can't see why a train burning might get people mad? It must be that horrible "Islamophobia" again.

Try and be more desi and less Muslim -- otherwise, you may find your viewpoints more suited for "islamocentrists.org" than a desi site. Islam originates from the Middle East. Desis don't. Try not to be so schizophrenic -- switching between being desi when it suits you, versus being Islamic when it suits you.

Islam has been increasingly burning its bridges with other communities due to its treatment of other communities. As soon as Muslims learn to criticize themselves instead of perpetually wallowing in reflexive self-pity, they might find themselves onto a better path of enlightenment towards improving relations with others. Plaintive blog columns are no substitute for self-criticism and broad-based grassroots openness.

March 17, 2006
08:51 AM

The use of the term "Islamophobia" seems to reflect a logicophobia.

Tom Paine
March 19, 2006
06:39 AM

Just one link for your amusement: Muslims.

Tom Paine
March 19, 2006
06:43 AM

Sorry about the error in the previous link. Here is the correct one: Muslims.

And for Vishwa, here is a link to Faithfreedom.org for his or her edification.

March 20, 2006
01:20 PM

#47 there are mtoo many already. the media just hasn't picked them up. al-azhar sunni or any of the shia mujtahids. thius is just common knowledge, and its seems a little uncommon.


March 20, 2006
02:24 PM

You write as if jews dont know how to hate. they must not be human then... apart from the irony, who killed Yitzhak Rabin, PM of Israel, and who was Rabbi Meir Kahane?

i know that hateful fringe in israel as much as long ayeeland.

i knew that some people from my extended family were massacred during hindu attacks on trains in a princely state in india 1947, and that one of them fainted beneath a heap of bodies, then woke up and started walking - that was not a shock - just history.

i just learned that it was the RSS who was behind that attack in a book by a relative published in 1950 - that struck me with some contemporary resonance and continuity.

pity for those poor human souls, Rashtriya Sevak Sangh. no hate.

they deserve a better life.

mrinalini, can you give it to them?


March 20, 2006
02:26 PM

or is it just me who has to wrestle obl for the WWE title? on even ground, ceterus paribus.

March 20, 2006
06:18 PM

1. Why haven't we seen fatwas against Osama-Bin-Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?

2. How can you demand equal treatment where you have inequal treatment of minorities enshrined in your law?

3. Do Muslims in India, owe their first loyalty to their ummah or to India? Can you be a part-time Indian? Shouldn't you be grateful for your equal rights in India?

Having asked these questions, I think in India, we should be on the watch for any Muslim acting weird. Keep our eyes open.

Let them practise their faith in their mosques, homes, heck let them even pray in offices. But if they break our civil law - put them behind bars.
We should live in society the way us Hindus want to live - under our system - not afraid of Muslims. Equal treatment for Muslims? Of course. Special treatment? Never.

March 21, 2006
12:57 AM



1.Hindu-muslims in india will always have a reason to fight.

2.Western world would do anything ...i mean ANYTHING.....to justify what they do.(cum on west is not ANTI-ISLAM,it is ANTI-ANYTHING which intimidates there supermacy..........)

there policy

Just to quote a few eg.

CHINA-our uncle sam is all hands up of for freedom..freedom...freedom....open trade with china.....&...open attack on Iraq.

European union-When our steel tycoon mr. Mittal bids to bye arcelor......these guys forget all there GLOBALIZATION....and turns Racist.

3.All the muslims whu are blogging ,Facing media,Speaking out....belongs to MODERATE,Rational and educated bunch among muslims.....WE ALL UNANIMOUSLY CALL KILLERS OF INNOCENT LIVES(so called jehadis)....Muderers of humanity.


1.Dude keep up with recent times....there have been four different fatwas from all around INDIA
against Terrorism(includes all osamas.....)

2.Its with every relegion,belief,group...and it ought to be ........thats very HUMAN...u tend to be bias towards anyone whu shares same belief as u....why pinpoint Islam.

3.Oh man get some life......
For that reason
WE are first muslims and then Indians.
this holds for a jain,hindu,sikh,christian....
whats the fuss ?

and now for heaven's sake(i hope u make it there)
don't deduce.
that we support jehadees,support PAK.....et al
any thing which appeases ur sense of justification.

March 21, 2006
06:03 PM

#58 arjun:

1. and what is a fatwa : it is an opinion, a written one, if needed on a particular question or issue at hand?

you havent seen them because you are watching the media which is not interested in those. they are not sensational.

once again there are fatwas (opinions) by scholars from various/nearly all sects, that extremism such as that of obl, zarqawi is the work of crackpots.

2. a just society requires that minority rights are protection from aggressive majorities

3. are you a part-time hindu and a part-time indian? or wherever u reside. you could be from fiji or indonesia for all i know.

4. in fact it is the muslims 15%, who are living in the shadow of the hindu in india. Modi in Gujrat.

In pakistan for the muslim there is no shadow. so you will have no one to hunker over there, if ever you go there. perhaps this is one, [and the only?], redeeming feature of partition.

never say never again to tolerance - but i fear its a lost cause in your seething hatred.


August 18, 2006
06:19 AM

There has no discussion to be about islam because today u have hundreds of religion... What we muslims say is our religion is correct, everyone wants to protect their religion.When it comes to islam "yes,we are clear that there is only one god -allah and muhammed is his messenger" but Islam does not force anyone to accept our religion.. It all depends on faith and actions we perform with real faith in hearts.. rest of all like critics,extremist etc has to place to comment... The Qoute will never change "ISLAM does not force or comment on other religion.It tells the fact- believing it or accepting it is upto us depends on the faith we have..." so people indulging in murders,terrorisim etc holding banner saying that they are protecting islam is rubbish, no they arent they are creating their own way for hell..

August 18, 2006
11:00 AM

Guys I am not pro muslim or anything for that sort. In fact I do not like Islam as being practiced.

But I do think Quran deserves due respect.A lot of people cite verses from Quran saying kill/hate non muslims e.t.c. That is because Quaran like any other professional,legal document,law relies on definitions of words described earlier to its actual usage.
I think who ever wrote Quran meant All good and God fearing and humanity loving people are muslims and those not are non muslims.
Many of those quoting Quran(Muslims and non muslims inclusive) think Muslim means those following a particular religion and non muslims means those following religions other than Islam and quote Quran in that context.

The original intent of Quran was not to identify people based on religion but on faith. Thus according to whoever first wrote Quran all hindus, christans, humanity loving, God fearing people, e.t.c are muslims and those who do not are non-muslims. All those Quranic verses where it preaches hate towards non muslims means hate people who are inhumane, cheats e.t.c.

August 24, 2006
11:46 PM

In fact if you look at the number of deaths in the world in the last 4 years, most of them, by any count
9/11 : 3000 non-muslims
Katrine: 1500 non-muslims
soldiers deaths: 3000
Iraq: countless muslims

and is this due to terrorism? Islamic terrorists? how do you square all these in your mind. Its all too easy to look at the western deaths and say "thats terrorism!" whats happening in the middle east? did they have it coming? Did everyone that died in Iraq a terrorist?

West has to understand things better than being reactive with words. as if words don't mean anything.

August 25, 2006
02:14 AM

The self-centred community should consider the idea that Extremism breeds "Islamophobia"

As if opposing medeivalist theocratic fundamentalism is a "phobia". I'm arguing with a closed mutual admiration society.

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