Radicalism’s Hollow Inspiration

April 26, 2013

In the aftermath of the tragic events in Boston, the hot topic once again is the conversation around countering violent extremism and the role the American Muslim community can play in ensuring that our nation remains safe. Though Muslim organizations, institutions and leaders sent out messages of unity and solidarity in response to the tragedy, we must continue to show leadership in approaching and eliminating the scourge of violent extremism.

We are not new to this work; we have been leaders for more than a decade in fighting the ideologies, and we have called out bankrupt ideologies over and over again.

For years, American Muslim institutions, such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, have worked to reject extremist ideology that imposes the cult of death on its followers, and they have strived to promote the mainstream theology of life based on the Islamic values of mercy, peace and justice. In MPAC’s Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice video campaign, influential American Muslim scholars speak on the use of violence as a means to impact change and its contrary nature to Islam’s teachings.

Once again we have to amplify our voices against this hollow inspiration and affirm that injustice cannot defeat injustice.

“We are determined to win the ideological battle to discredit and isolate the fringe extremist voices,” said Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC Senior Adviser.

Indeed, according to Salam Al-Marayati in Lawfare Blog, “If the 99.9% [of American Muslims] is to become more relevant, then it must challenge extremists in areas where they expend their resources.” Al-Marayati goes on to explain that the status quo must change in that the American public must realize the relevance of the mainstream in order to discredit the .1%. That realization will ultimately enhance the security of our nation.

While the American Muslim community has been successful in immunizing mosques from al-Qaeda-linked ideology, the danger we’ve all been alerted to this past week is the shift to cyberspace’s extreme and hateful messages luring susceptible lone-wolf types to their twisted versions of Islam.

There is a solution to pushing back against online radicalism and its recruitment tools such as al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine.

A commitment to civic and political engagement and intervention at the earliest stages is key to counteracting the disease. Additionally, we have hope in a better future because of the outstanding collective talent of young Muslim leaders.

The model of engaging our youth, building partnerships with law enforcement and guiding policy-makers elevates the American Muslim community as to being part of the solution.

We cannot give up. American Muslim institutions and scholars need to continue to work in developing a well-rounded American Muslim identity.

We can work in a united front with other Americans in leading our country out of the scourge of cyberspace inspired violence. Time and truth are on our side; those who lead from empty thrones of self-righteousness will not succeed.  American Muslims, united with our fellow Americans, will prevail in the ideological battle against violent extremism.

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