Sunday, January 30, 2011

Silence from American Muslims

Pakistani civil society activists protest in Lahore against the killing of late Punjab Governer Salman Taseer. 

Pakistani civil society activists protest in Lahore against the killing of late Punjab Governer Salman Taseer. (Arif Ali/ AFP/ Getty Images)

AMID THE uproar earlier this month over the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the secularist governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab, Muslim-American organizations have been largely silent. At a time when mainstream Muslim leaders have been trying to demonstrate their embrace of religious tolerance and pluralism to their fellow Americans, few have had a word to say about this People’s Party leader whose denunciation of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law led to his death at the hands of a Muslim zealot — a zealot who has since been celebrated by fundamentalists around the globe.

The most notable silence is on the part of the Islamic Circle of North America. Operating in this country for about 40 years, this organization has ideological ties to the Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan’s main Islamist political parties. The Jamaat explained away the assassination of Taseer on the grounds that it could have been avoided if the government had simply removed him from office. Though the Islamic Circle of North America does not necessarily take orders from its Pakistani parent, it appears unwilling to challenge the views of its overwhelmingly immigrant membership from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh — many of whom seem to have little sympathy for the slain politician’s secularist views.

Nor is this the first instance of such silence. Last May, when the Pakistani Taliban slaughtered 93 members of a persecuted Muslim sect, the Ahmadiyya, the Islamic Circle of North America held its annual convention in Hartford. Speakers continually reminded the several thousand attendees that “Islam is a religion of peace,’’ yet one of us in attendance heard not a word about the killings all weekend. Other Muslim-American organizations, none of which has such direct and exclusive ties to Pakistan and the region, had even less excuse for their silence.
While Muslim-American leaders are constantly reminding their followers to exercise their rights as Americans, they also embrace the view that Muslims here are part of the worldwide community of fellow believers — the ummah. As such, these organizations are riven by numberless fissures that run along linguistic, ethnic, racial, and doctrinal lines. Their leaders are preoccupied with not saying or doing anything that would cause such fissures to develop into major ruptures.
So while many Muslim-Americans may abhor what happened in Pakistan, others may agree with friends and relatives back home that Taseer’s killing was justified, or at least to be tolerated. In between are Muslims who are conflicted about such events but who get little guidance from leaders who seem to lack either the wisdom or the courage to speak with moral clarity. Some of these leaders are not the pluralists they claim to be. Others have simply grown accustomed to avoiding the difficult choices facing them and instead, especially since 9/11, would rather mobilize and unify their fractious members by pointing to a common enemy — whether it is the FBI, the Patriot Act, or Islamophobes.
The situation is not hopeless, however. It is certainly noteworthy that all the leaders and organizations that have been silent about Taseer’s assassination have been equally vocal and explicit in their denunciation of the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt on Jan. 1. They clearly understood that the killing of Christians by Muslims is not something about which they could remain silent. Now these leaders must confront the reality that in contemporary America, genuine religious pluralism requires them to be just as outraged when Muslims kill Muslims.
In the name of Muslim unity, many Muslim-American leaders and organizations have been less than coherent when it comes to violent extremism. As a result, they have confused their members as to what true religious toleration and pluralism require, and consequently feed the very suspicions of those inclined to doubt the possibility of Muslims fully assimilating to the American way of life. This is a profound disservice to the many Muslim-Americans who are doing just that.
Peter Skerry is professor of political science at Boston College and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Gary Schmitt is resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


Damien said...


I'll see if I can find any.

Damien said...


I haven't found anything on American Muslims speaking out on this guy's murder so far, but I did find a Time/CNN article, on it, where John Kerry of all people spoke out against what happened to him. That said, I don't think he understands the origin of Pakistan.

The Martyrdom of Pakistan's Advocate of Tolerance

Unknown said...

Hi Pastorius.
As far as i know the Ahmadiyya is the ONLY Muslim group who condems violence in the Name of Islam,hence why they are killed and threatened by the other followers of "The Religion of Peace".

A place to start is their newspaper.

Pastorius said...

Thanks, Damien.

Damien said...


You're Welcome.

ACE(india) said...

Ha Ha Ha , That Mother Fucker taseer deserved to Die. No its not schedenfreude.Its quite an irony..
Before Independence, a book about the pedo-prophet was published in India.The book was titled "Rangeela rasul"( info: in reaction to muslims labeling our goddess sita as a prostitute.
Anyway, Taseer's Father facilitated and encouraged the murder of the publisher.After the murderer was hanged, he arranged for his funeral, hailed him the title of "Gazi" ( conqueror).
So the son was killed for criticizing the blasphemy law his father defended. He was killed in the fashion his father facilitated. Oh, the divine stage of karma. As they say in Hinduism "no heaven , no hell just an eternal balance sheet."
Moral of the story:
"Karma: Respect it bitches"
These pedo-worshipers are gonna get their due soon. Until they pay the price of their intolerance with their blood all this will continue.their countries will never see prosperity and happiness. and ironically it will happen with their own hands.

ACE(india) said...

Oh yeah and go to any muslim tolerance lecture, the only tolerance they preach is regarding other sects/ethnicities. They would never say don't proscute other religions.
Ohh and about the ahmedias , they dont believe in pedo-Mo's finality and have an additional prophet. so out of the religion of peace they go. Ironically an ahmedi encouraged Jinnah to form the pakistan where ahmadies get prosecuted the most.
Kar--wait for it-ma.

Anonymous said...

Ahmedis believe in Jihad. THey are just waiting for a caliph to start it. They believe people shouldn't act independently but as a whole ISLAMIC NATION!