Moving past black-and-white caricatures of one another.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has repeatedly poised the question, “Where are the moderate Muslims?” and concluded that the very concept of a moderate Muslim majority was merely wishful thinking. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s assertions are not hers alone. They are shared by many prominent commentators, such as those found on Fox News. It is also a widespread belief among average Americans. But the popular idea that mainstream Muslims do nothing to condemn, or worse, even secretly applaud, the outrages perpetrated in the name of Islam is a misinformed notion. Sometimes error of this belief is demonstrated in dramatic ways.
In the aftermath of the recent violent attacks by Islamist Extremists against Coptic Churches in Egypt, Egyptian Muslim clerics and intellectuals have called on ordinary Muslims to stand outside Christian Churches during their Christmas celebrations both as an act of solidarity and to function as “human shields” against further violence. (More information can be found here, here, and here.) Word was passed around using Twitter and Facebook, and apparently many Egyptian Muslims even changed their profile picture to that of a cross, or a cross and a crescent together to show their solidarity with the Christian minority that were being victimized by the extremists.
It seems that in our current age of sound bites and one-liners, strident if uninformed criticism will always outperform calm, reasoned inquiry. We must move past black-and-white caricatures of one another. They serve the best interests of no one.