Commenting on Global Terrorism: RICMA's Policy

The question of when, how, and under what circumstances we should comment on terrible acts carried out by persons with Muslim-sounding names, or who have an ethnicity tied to a majority-Muslim country, or who claim to do their act in the name of Islam, has been a question that the American Muslim community has been grappling with for the past two decades. Here is our position as a humble, local, all-volunteer organization.
 
In summary: RICMA does not comment on global acts of terrorism. Here is the reasoning:
 
Reason 1:

  • We sadly live in a world where terrorist attacks occur multiple times daily. 

  • We feel that any choice to comment on some and not all of those tragedies communicates to the public that RICMA values some humans more than others, and condemns some crimes more than others.

  • Since we simply cannot, as a matter of labor and practical coordination, comment on all acts of terror worldwide, and because we would rather not have to make the hard choices of selecting which tragedies to publicly mourn, we have decided to refrain from publicly commenting on acts that do not occur on some local level.

Reason 2: 

  • Experience has shown that such statements are ineffective; no matter how much Muslims publicly condemn acts of terror, we still receive complaints that Muslims do not do enough to speak out. 

  • As a matter of humanity, however, Muslims do speak out all the time. To see many thousands of cases of Muslims condemning such acts, please visit the website: www.muslimscondemn.com

Reason 3:

  • We challenge and disagree with the premise of those who ask after an act of terrorism, "where are the Muslims? Why aren't they publicly condemning this?" 

  • Those who wonder this assume that by not commenting on these acts, Muslims are tacitly condoning them. There is a terrible premise underlying this assumption, which is that Muslims are okay with the killing of innocent people, with suicide bombing, or with terrorism. The assumption, in short, is that of “collectively guilty until proven innocent.”

Reason 4: 

  • In our opinion, it is these premises and assumptions that requires correction. 

  • Our approach has been to work proactively to inform people in Rhode Island about the basic teachings of the religion, including its position on terrorism, violence, and war. For instance:

  • The work of correcting misconceptions and building up the basic humanity of Muslims will not be solved through such statements. In addition, they take time and energy to produce, which detract from other, more proactive efforts we undertake.