It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.
Hashmi was perplexed by this analysis. Muslims are constantly denouncing atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet many people seem to think Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough. So Hashmi decided to put the notion to the test. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11.
“I wanted to show people how weak the argument [that Muslims don’t care about terrorism] is,” she explained.
Her stats struck a chord. Within 24 hours, Hashmi’s tweet had been retweeted 15,000 times. A couple of her followers volunteered to help her turn her spreadsheet into an interactive website and, within a week of the tweet,muslimscondemn.com was born. This was last November, but the website has grown considerably since then and, sadly, flickers into prominence whenever a new attack takes place.
Hashmi’s project isn’t just designed to prove that Muslims are constantly condemning terrorism; she made it to demonstrate how ridiculous it is that Muslims are constantly expected to offer apologies for terrorist acts. Muslims, notes Hashmi, are “held to a different standard than other minorities: 1.6 billion people are expected to apologise and condemn [terrorism] on behalf of a couple of dozen lunatics. It makes no sense.” After all, Hashmi, says, “I don’t view the KKK or the Westboro Baptist church or the Lord’s Resistance Army as accurate representations of Christianity. I know that they’re on the fringe. So it gets very frustrating having to defend myself and having to apologise on behalf of some crazy people.”
You can see that double standard at play in the aftermath of the London attacks.Khalid Masood, the London attacker, was born Adrian Elms in Dartford, Kent and is believed to have converted to Islam in prison. Have we heard Kent natives –hello Nigel Farage! – condemn the actions of the people born in their county? (“I hope my Kentish brothers and sisters will reach out to fellow Britons in solidarity to demonstrate that such hatred will not defeat the inherent bonhomie of the home counties?”) No, we haven’t, because that would be ridiculous. And yet Muslims have often been expected to apologise for the actions of someone on the very fringes of their community, and have done so.
Thanks to Hashmi, all these condemnations are now carefully recorded at muslimscondemn.com. So for anyone asking why more Muslims don’t denounce terrorism, you know where to go.