This is a guest post by Durriya Badani.
The execution style murder of three young North Carolina students, two of whom were hijab wearing Muslim women, raises questions regarding the rise of Islamaphobia in the United States in the form of hate crimes. Some will argue that the motive for the incident has not been clearly established and was simply the unfortunate outcome of a parking dispute, while others will note that this was a tragic, yet isolated incident.
However, for the broader Muslim community, also witnessing the atrocities being committed daily by Boko Haram or ISIS or al-Qaeda in the name of Islam, this incident is part of the larger price which is being exacted as their faith becomes inextricably intertwined in American conscientiousness with war, brutality, and savagery.
It is a message that is underscored and amplified by politicians and personalities seeking to stir the conservative’s hornets nest and asking if there is anything implicitly within Islam which lends itself to conflict and violence. When President Obama noted recently at the National Prayer Breakfast that all faiths can be “twisted and misused in the name of evil” and that terrorists who profess “to stand up for Islam” are, in fact, “betraying it” he was resoundingly criticized.
The chasm between the solace, comfort and meaning Muslims find in their faith with the atrocities we are witnessing daily by terrorist groups has widened into an abyss, enveloping within it consistent Muslim denunciations of the violence. Though Muslim faith leaders and organizations are more vocal, active and engaged within their local communities, this tide will not turn immediately. For Muslim communities, in the United States and beyond, our hope is that the same nuanced understanding that is lent to Christian extremists blowing up abortion clinics to protect the “sanctity of life,” or Jewish extremists who murdered 16 year old Muhammed Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem or Hindu extremists exacting revenge on Muslims and Christians in India, will also be applied to their own faith community. The price of extremism is already too heavy to bear.
Durriya Badani is Director of Near East and South Asia for the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. Prior to that she served as Deputy Director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World for the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. The viewpoints represented are solely her own.