When I first heard about the shootings last Thursday at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas in which 13 people were killed and 30 were wounded, to be honest my initial reaction was, “God help us, not another mass shooting in America.” After all, I hate to say it, but these shootings are becoming increasingly and disturbingly common. I’ll spare you my thoughts on gun control.
However, as the story developed, so did my opinions and fears. The incident has no shortage of shock factors. For one, Major Nidal Hasan, 39 years old, was an army psychiatrist. You would think as a doctor, he would have sought or given himself some sort of professional help. But perhaps the one factoid which stuck with me is the fact that Hasan is Muslim. Once I read that, my heart dropped. The story immediately changed from potentially being just another “lone, crazy gunman on a shooting spree,” to “crazy Islamic fundamentalist, terrorist on a shooting spree.”
It did not take too long for the media to unleash hints of Islamaphobia in its suggestive headlines. But to be fair, those assumptions were and are justified I suppose. There were and are definitely some worrying leads. Reports indicate that Hasan was growing increasingly opposed to the US’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, becoming more anti-American. Apparently there were witnesses who even heard Hasan shout “Allahu Akhbar” before he opened fire. Clear indicator that his shooting was in the name of God?
Now there is talk of a serious backlash not only against ordinary Muslims in America, but against the estimated 3,500 Muslims serving in the US military, “prized for their cultural and linguistic knowledge.”
I have to say I was impressed by major Muslim- American organizations not missing the beat, condemning this act of violence right away, and saying it has nothing to do with the teachings of Islam. Hey, at least we are getting better and faster at getting these statements out!
But should Muslims in America be doing more? With every act of violence done in the name of Islam, we bow our heads in shame, brace for the backlash, and hope it will be over soon.
To a large extent, moderate Muslims around the world are just as victimized, if not more, by the fanatical Islamic minority who have done a tremendous job of becoming the mainstream and misconstrued image of Islam. Is it time for moderate Muslims to be more proactive?
I am writing this post after reading this article by Rob Asghar. Asghar asks for deeds, not words from the Muslim community. Though he makes some valid suggestions in his piece, such as setting up charities for communities “hurt by extremists who have hijacked Islam,” I want to know what else can we do? How can Muslims in America, around the world, take a real stand against radical Islam, and not just play the silent victim role?
This story is still very raw, still developing. We do not know all the facts yet. What we do know is that the chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security committee, Joe Lieberman, has already labeled the shooting as “an act of Islamist extremism.”
I think that it is time for Muslims around the world, especially young Muslims, to start being proactive about what our religion stands for now, and what it will stand for in the future. Think of what the Islam that our children inherit will look like. Our silence condones the violence.
We cannot just continue to brace ourselves for backlash attack after attack. We need to start putting our heads together and come up with tangible solutions. There are only so many statements one can read. After awhile, people need to start seeing the action to match those fancy, official statements.