Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Issues in Islam: "Criticism" without Context

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Issues in Islam: "Criticism" without Context

Article excerpt

Issues in Islam: "Criticism" Without Context

By Greg Noakes

The American Muslim community has been in an uproar for weeks about self-described "terrorism expert" Steven Emerson's hour-long documentary "Jihad in America," which aired Nov. 21 on public television. Muslims in this country fear a backlash generated by the negative images, both rhetorical and pictorial, contained within the film, which posits a nationwide network of Islamic radicals bent on waging "holy war" against the United States.

In the wake of the 1992 bombing of the World Trade Center, the subsequent plot to blow up the United Nations and other New York landmarks, and senseless violence directed against innocent civilians around the world, the subject of terrorism in the guise of Islam needs to be addressed. In fact, the estimated five to six million American Muslims have a fundamental interest in addressing the topic, since such violence not only puts them at risk but also perverts and distorts their faith, shared by a fifth of humanity. Still, the notion of "Jihad in America" must be addressed responsibly.

Steven Emerson's documentary failed to place the alleged "terror network" in any kind of context. There were disclaimers that the radicals in the film are only a fringe group, and should not be taken to represent all Muslims, and yet the lack of any substantial alternative images of Islam in America belies this point. The overwhelming majority of American Muslims, who pray, fast and give to charity to meet the obligations of their faith while working, studying and raising families like their non-Muslim neighbors, were nowhere to be found in Mr. …

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