Why Should I apologize for ISIS?

After the recent Islamophobic attack on two Muslim women on bus in London where they were called “ISIS B*****s” by a fellow passenger, I realized there needs to be a discussion about the generalization of all Muslims being somehow connected to ISIS (Islamic State) and having to apologize for their actions. It is clearly unfair to label roughly two billion Muslims, with the actions of a minority extremist group. A group nonetheless that justify their terrorist actions on the pretext of religion but are also influenced by the political environment in the Middle East.

To apologize for something is to admit that it is something you have been a part of, and something that you are responsible for. But I am not responsible for the politics that occur in the Middle East, nor am I a part of it.

Tony Blair recently admitted that the foreign invasion led by the West actually helped the rise of ISIS in the Middle East because it destabilized the region even further, which is proof that it has to do more with politics than religion. For argument’s sake, let’s say ISIS was only driven by religious motives and no political aims, even then, there are so many different sects in Islam, and ISIS is just one of them. In fact, many of the victims killed by ISIS’s atrocious attacks are Muslim civilians, as a United Nations report stated . This shows that the vast majority of Muslims too, are the victims of fundamentalists like ISIS who are driven by their own selfish agendas which they hide behind ‘religious reasoning’. Also, a lot of Muslims have spoken out publicly against ISIS, such as the Secretary General for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which is an organisation that represents 57 countries and 1.4 billion Muslims, who blatantly mentioned that ISIS have got nothing to do with Islam .

So to stereotype the whole Muslim community is not just unfair, but inaccurate.

But unfortunately that is what has been happening, as the bus passenger who accused the two Muslim women of being part of ISIS made this mistaken assumption. Do all Christians have to apologize for the Ku Klux Klan’s racist assaults on black people because they declared themselves to be a Christian group? Do all Jews have to apologize for Israel’s occupation in Palestine? Do all American citizens have to apologize for the American invasion of Iraq that led to thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties? No, they don’t because they did not all collectively commit those crimes. The crimes do not reflect them as a whole, but only a defected fraction of them. The same should be applied to Muslims when one hears of terrorist attacks committed by extremist groups. In these cases, those particular groups are to be blamed for it, not all the followers of Islam because that is an unjust generalization that has led to countless Islamophobic attacks and racial slurs towards moderate Muslims living peacefully in the West. In fact, there has been a 70% rise in Islamophobic attacks in Britain in the past year.

This has affected me too as I am a Muslim, born and bred in Tanzania. One day, whilst I was walking down the street in my hometown, one stranger just called me “Al-Shabab” referring to a Somalian extremist group that has threatened some parts of East Africa . I was so shocked because this was my hometown where my family and I have lived all our lives without any troubles. But that day, I was no longer seen as a fellow country-person, but affiliated with a terrorist organization which I clearly have nothing to do with. This made me question as to why I should feel guilty about seeing a news story about an extremist group that killed people when I am not in any way involved with or in support of them. It does not relate to me just because I am Muslim. Otherwise that would mean every time a Christian, Jew or Atheist committed a crime, then the whole community should apologize for it.

To apologize for something is to admit that it is something you have been a part of, and something that you are responsible for. But I am not responsible for the politics that occur in the Middle East, nor am I a part of it. Yes, I am against all acts of terror, whether committed by a Muslim or a Non-Muslim. But I do not have to be put to trial and generalized for the acts of others, acts that I always condemn and despise because I believe it is in no way a part of my religion.

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