CAIR: MEDIA LENS DISTORTS IMAGE OF MUSLIM AMERICANS
A friend recently asked me a question familiar to many Muslim Americans: "Why don't I hear anything from American Muslims denouncing terrorism?"
Muslim Americans are, in fact, constantly condemning terrorism. Muslim leaders and groups throughout the country, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have repeatedly and unequivocally denounced all forms of it.
There is no justification in Islam for terrorism, and those who perpetrate terrorist attacks, such as 9/11, are not martyrs. Terrorists are murderers who distort Islam to serve their own political and ideological agendas.
The latest study of American Muslim public opinion, released by the Pew Research Center two weeks ago and widely covered by media, revealed that American Muslims are very well integrated into society.
It says that "with the exception of very recent immigrants, most (Muslims) report that a large proportion of their closest friends are non-Muslims. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try to adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society.
And by nearly 2 to 1, Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
To the dismay of most Muslim Americans, the study was also the subject of sensationalism and misrepresentation. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin attempts to increase the level of paranoia and suspicion, citing statistics in the Pew study that indicate there are some apologists for suicide bombing among the American Muslim population.
A reading of the full report indicates that Malkin and the other critics are completely missing the larger picture. As noted in the report, "Very few Muslim Americans -- fewer than 1 percent -- believe that suicide bombings against civilians are often justified to defend Islam; another 7 percent say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances."
Asking a parallel question to the entire American public, the University of Maryland's Program on International Public Attitudes found that 24 percent believe that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "often or sometimes justified." More than half of all Americans believe that the bombing of civilians can be justified in at least rare cases.