Stop Asking Muslims To Apologise

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From top: Zainab Heaney from Ireland during a protest over France’s ban on women wearing the Islamic Niqad, Hijab, Abaya and Burqa; Dr Julien Mercille

Anti-extremism statements and pledges are not the way to go. They are against freedom of speech and implemented in a biased fashion against specific groups but not others.

Dr Julien Mercille writes:

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Brussels, Muslims are often asked the question, “Do you reject the acts of terrorism committed in Europe?”

However, Muslims shouldn’t have to apologise every time a Muslim does something wrong.

To repeat the obvious: an act of terrorism committed by a Muslim has nothing to do with the 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. Terrorism is almost always a political act, not a religious act.

Sure, religion may or may not be used to wrap terrorist acts into some kind of ideological garment, but the roots are political.

In any case, it’s easy to see the double standards at play when we ask Muslims “to apologise for terrorism”.

For example, when it was revealed that the Irish Catholic Church had been involved in the mass abuse of Irish children, did we drag every Irish person in front of the cameras to ask them, “As a Catholic, do you unequivocally reject those actions?”

Or imagine that in Africa or Asia, a news presenter had asked a Christian, “As a Christian, do you dissociate yourself from the abuses committed by the Irish Catholic Church?”

And since terrorism is very often committed by men, why not ask every man on the planet, “As a man, do you reject in all your manliness those acts of terrorism?”

And why not require that customs officials of all countries ask Irish travellers, “As an Irish person, do you reject all acts of violence ever committed by the IRA and all its splinter groups?”

Of course, that would be laughable and demeaning and we would never think about doing this.

Yet, for Muslims, it seems to be different.

Two dangerous developments in Belgium and in Ireland are related to this.

Belgium just announced a plan to make all non-European visitors to sign a pledge to accept “European values” if they stay longer than three months in the country. If they don’t sign the pledge they won’t be allowed in Belgium.

This is because the Belgian government said that many people are coming “from countries with other values”. “If they want to build a life here in Europe [we have] no problem with that but they have to sign this statement that they accept our values”. Among other things, the statement will include a pledge to prevent and report any attempts to commit “acts of terrorism”.

In Ireland, leaders of the Irish Muslim community introduced an “anti-Extremism Declaration”  that should be signed by any foreign Muslim speakers who come here to give speeches. It was even suggested that the Irish government should incorporate the signing of this declaration as part of the visa application process to visit Ireland.

Such policies are very misguided. They are against freedom of speech and will only serve as another tool for excluding immigrants and whoever governments don’t want to see in their countries. They will reinforce the demonization of immigrants and Muslims.

Just consider the Belgian proposal and see how absurd it is.

If the Belgians are worried about expelling violent extremists, the first thing they should do is to expel NATO—the military alliance of Western governments that has its headquarters in Belgium.

NATO has unleashed so much destruction in Afghanistan and Libya, let alone the destruction caused by the military forces of its individual member states, notably the US. If this doesn’t qualify as violent extremism, nothing does. Remember that perhaps one million people died in the Iraq War.

Next in line, they should expel all politicians who have supported those military adventures, and that includes a lot of European politicians. And while at it, why not expel anybody who votes for the political parties of those politicians.

Then, if the worry is to protect values of tolerance, why not expel members of far-right groups, including the National Front in France, UKIP, Pegida, etc.?

And why not expel members of the clergy who oppose gay rights, abortion, etc.?

In short, it is clear that none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

Therefore, anti-extremism statements and pledges are not the way to go. They are against freedom of speech; they are implemented in a biased fashion against specific groups but not others; and even if they were implemented objectively, they would be absurd..

The way to fight extremism is by enabling more freedom of speech and more democracy. Those who are scared of that are usually those who seek to prevent others from speaking.

Julien Mercille specialises in US foreign policy and terrorism and is a lecturer at University College Dublin.  Follow him on Twitter: @JulienMercille

Yesterday: Declare And Present Danger

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82 thoughts on “Stop Asking Muslims To Apologise

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            Yeah, save your energy for positive stuff. Balloons, sunshine, a nice glass of wine…

  1. Tish Mahorey

    Well how ridiculous would it have been for Irish people to apologise for the IRA bombings in London when the vast majority didn’t support them.

    Same thing.

    Asking Muslims to apologise for the terrorist activities of a few power seekers who use the religion as a front is the mindset of an uneducated idiot.

    1. Owen C

      Asking all Muslims to apologize is indeed ridiculous. Asking Muslim clerics or lecturers to pledge/sign anti-extremist statements (you know, the thing which has actually happened rather than the thing which hasn’t) seems fairly reasonable.

  2. Baz

    Julienne,

    Let it go, you’re twisting the request, it’s not about 1.6b it’s a proposal for visiting preachers.

    Your self hate is immense, I’d suggest reaching out to a MHP

    Increasingly thinking that your hatred of ‘the west’ is a masked jealousy of The USA, perhaps if surrender monkey French were dictating western policies we wouldn’t have to listen to your whining

    Grow up Julienne, you had your chance on Newstalk and you failed, cringe full stuff.

    Might be time to start shlocking your twisted message in pastures new, we are wise to you now.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Riiiiight. You call him Julienne but it’s HIM that needs to grow up. I bet everyone takes you really seriously in real life.

  3. ZeligIsJaded

    “In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Brussels, Muslims are often asked the question, “Do you reject the acts of terrorism committed in Europe?”

    Some opening line!

    Gibberish

  4. Owen C

    Look, Julien clearly knows more about whats right for Muslims than the Muslims themselves…

    “The way to fight extremism is by enabling more freedom of speech and more democracy. Those who are scared of that are usually those who seek to prevent others from speaking.”

    So we’re all ok with hate speech and are dismissive of the issue of incitement of hatred yeah?

    “And since terrorism is very often committed by men, why not ask every man on the planet, “As a man, do you reject in all your manliness those acts of terrorism?”

    Why are we still taking this man seriously?

      1. han solo's carbonite dream

        it should though…
        let people see the hate and judge for themselves.
        often people on a campaign soften their real stance and people fall for it.
        Be better if we all saw the truth…

        1. Nigel

          While I am not a supporter of restrictions necessarily, this is easy to say so long as you are not the direct target of the hate speech.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            No, implying Irish Muslims support terrorism because an anti terrorism match got a low turnout was hateful. You were merely served a dose of your own medicine.

          2. ahjayzis

            They’ve not to my knowledge ever marched bigots and buffoons into camps and gas chambers.

            Unless you identify as an out and proud practising bigot and/or buffoon, that ain’t hate speech.

    1. J

      Student: Dr. Mercille
      Subject :How to stand out on the Leftie lineup
      Report: Could do better. Dr. Mercille needs to work on polishing his feminist halo by rejecting the concept of hegemonic masculinity . No radio station in thrall to his arch nemesis would entertain such a statement “As a man, do you reject in all your manliness those acts of terrorism?”
      Result: Fail

      1. Dara

        Juliene has encouraged me, a female working class writer, for no benefit to himself, just being sound.

        It’s how people used to treat each other before all social relations were monetised.

    2. pedeyw

      “And since terrorism is very often committed by men, why not ask every man on the planet, “As a man, do you reject in all your manliness those acts of terrorism?”-it makes as much sense as asking a Muslim person to explain or apologise for terrorist acts.

  5. Owen O'F

    Most people are not that twit in Croydon who went on about the ‘mealy mouthed reply’ of a poor randomer who he accosted with the ‘do you reject’ line. This is just more strawmanship.

  6. J

    “The way to fight extremism is by enabling more freedom of speech and more democracy”.
    Is Julien advocating a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR to support his puppy fight against terrorism?

    I can never manage to erode the image of a disgrunted toddler from my mind when I read Mercille’s musings.

  7. J

    “In short, it is clear that none of this makes any sense whatsoever”
    First time ever.I agree with Mercille. #virginagreement
    *applauds*

  8. han solo's carbonite dream

    he is completely incorrect after the catholic church scandals many church going catholics have been accosted and almost accused of permitting the abuse of children by virtue of not having rejected their faith.
    This was modern ireland so spare me the hand wringing over upsetting muslims.

    the irish muslim community had a march in dublin a “not in my name” kinda thing against IS …led by Baz of tv fame…about 50 showed up.
    make of that what you will…

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      I’ll make nothing of it. Did YOU go on any marches when the IRA were shooting dead pizza delivery drivers a couple of years ago?

      1. han solo's carbonite dream

        no because we rejected that poo in the referenda (held on both sides) ….you do recall we did actually go out and vote on that….
        overwhelmingly.

        make of that what you will.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          So you’ve said nothing about the real IRA murders a couple of years back. Well I can speculate that you might be an ira supporter then just like you can speculate aboit Muslims.

          1. Baz

            You’re not capable of understanding what a group of Muslims asked of visiting preachers are you? Clearly not.

            Run off with your own off topic diatribe, we are used to it by now.

      2. Harry Molloy

        there were huge marches and every second car had an “I’m for peace ” bumper sticker

        1. han solo's carbonite dream

          maybe moyes was too busy in their student bedsit drinking cider raging at the “man” at the time or down the lighthouse cinema watching films in Lebanese about one armed lesbian cyborgs cast into space by racist oppressors.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Right. I think you’re a clown for trying to imply Irish Muslims support terrorists so obviously I’m a an alcoholic lesbiam student who likes art films. You are a laughable buffoon.

          2. han solo's carbonite dream

            moyes.
            Whatever you think about me we know this.

            you have no humour and have questionable reading skills .
            because i wrote none of what you actually said I said.
            the cyborgs were lesbian…i’ve no idea what your preferences are…..
            as for the rest….lord have mercy.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            True. You bigots do tend to use all the same clichés so they usually blend in together when I’m reading them and the odd reading mistake can happen.

          4. han solo's carbonite dream

            bigot? eh…
            ah shure I’ve been called worse…
            by my hurt was lessened once I checked my privilege

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          Not after the real IRA murders of 3 or 4 years ago there wasn’t. So most Irish people probably support the real IRA. That’s obviously the only conclusion we can come to.

          1. han solo's carbonite dream

            i think the widespread condemnation and mockery of the carry-ons at Alan Ryan’s funeral disproves that point.

  9. lolly

    Dr. J is right this time. I do not think we should be making people sign declarations although I think the Islamic leaders here just wanted to look like they were doing SOMETHING.. No harm in asking people their opinion but we can’t be asking people to sign things like this.
    On another issue – When I opened the page and saw the image I thought – oh “IRA story – there’s a bloke in a balaclava”. To qualify – I’m completely in favour of more immigration and would happily double or treble the number of refugees we are taking in, also think we should make sure the new arrivals are mixed in with different communities, not just dumped out in Blanchardstown or Ballymun. My only tiny caveat for new immigrants is that a portion should be encouraged to open restaurants and cafés so we can have better quality middle-eastern food!
    I confess however that I remain uncomfortable with niqabs (and burqas although I’ve never seen one in Ireland). THey make me think of IRA lads, burglars, armed robbers, love-hate etc. covering your face like that in our culture seems unduly provocative given the cultural significance of masks here and their association with criminality. No problem at all with Hijabs or the other forms of Islamic dress. Should I feel guilty about this? Anyone want to call me racist or culturally insensitive?

  10. Clampers Outside!

    “Terrorism is almost always a political act, not a religious act.”

    “almost”

    But when the like of ISIS do it in order to create a religious state, then it IS religious.

    So, let’s keep to what it is being discussed, radicalised muslims for the creation of a religious state. So, for all intents and purposes. This is one of those cases where is IS a religious act.

    Whether one believes the persons in ISIS to be true ‘muslims’ or not does not really matter. They believe it themselves. That’s how they recruit. And they kill in the name of Islam.
    So, just because one is of that religion and one does not believe the same tenets as those committing atrocities in that religions name, does not mean it is not religiously driven. It’s still religion that drives the violence.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      It’s not religion that drives the violence. Do you seriously think a sane, well adjusted, fulfilled and non violent person is going to turn into a psychopathic murderer after reading a book? People kill because they feel hate or rage? Why do they feel hate or rage? Is it because people think Jesus is the son of God? Or is it because Spanish, American, French soldiers killed Muslims in the middle east? Is it because they think white westerners hate them and their culture when they see the likes of France banning headscarves and Belgium banning burqas? There are plenty of videos of young Muslims being recruited by Isis or radicalised imams in the UK. The messages are all the same. ‘The west hates you ate are killing muslims.’

      1. Isallimsaying

        Obviously a typo in the last quoted line, Moyes, but I’ve read it ten times and still can’t figure out how it’s supposed to read.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        So, you admit in the last line that they are being driven by religious difference and by Imams convincing the recruits that it is a religious war but you say it is not religious.

        Will ya get off that nonsense.

        All in your list would carry a ‘yes’ to some degree, and the one thing tying it all together? Religion.

        I am not saying, all people of any religion should take responsibility for others doing wrong around the globe in the name of their religion, but to deny religion plays a part is stupid. Of course it does, religion provides a unifying motivator for the perpetrators.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          I don’t “admit” anything. This is not about religion, it’s about culture and identity. None of them are killing for theological reasons. To believe that is just naive. There are plenty of videos online of leaders talking to respective recruits and Koran verses don’t come into it. The message, every time, is that the west hates you and is killing people who share your identity. That the identity was formed around a religion does not mean their motivation for killing is religious. They kill because they feel hate and anger, not because a book told them to.

      3. Owen O'F

        “It’s not religion that drives the violence.”

        The Lahore bombers clearly targeted Christians at Easter (though Muslims were also victims of the blast.) Reason given by nutters in question was that sharia wasn’t coming fast enough. I know you want to be questioning and analytical as to the geopolitical reasons for events like this, and that’s fine and good, but to dismiss religion as not being a driving negative force in the modernn world is equally as risible as blaming everything on de mussulmans.

        Your point clearly applies to our recent history in the North, sure, but I didn’t see any ‘volunteers’ waving bibles around or P O Neill statements banging on about the coming apocalypse.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          I’m not saying some of the people at the very top aren’t thinking about religious domination and sectarianism in the Middle East but when they attack the west it’s about perceived revenge. Also, Kingsmills, where they asked who the Protestant ones on the bus were before shooting them all didn’t make the IRA a religious group.

          1. Mike Oxlong

            The indiscriminate killing of Shia muslims/Yezidi, if not driven by a religious motive…..what else?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            What made the IRA flag down a bus, ask all the Catholics to get off and then murdered tge remaining Protestants? Was it because of theology? That they don’t revere Mary enough? Or was it because of ‘themmuns’?

          3. Owen O'F

            There’s yards of difference there. Religion was a handy us vs them up north covering the underlying lack of civil rights for Taigs, and keep-the-overbreeding-underclass-down mindset of the Prods. But religion was never used as recruitment tool for its own sake – bomb the RUC station and you go to heaven-style. This is another level entirely. Saudi-funded madrassa schools in Pakistan are pumping poor brainwashed lads out, primed for action in retaliation for injustices perpetrated by the West.

    2. Nigel

      Building a state through violence is a political project. That the ideology behind the putative state is religious in nature merely a detail, albeit an important one.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        I disagree. The politics is second to the religion in such a state. Secular laws are wiped, and religious ones put to the fore. That’s not political, that’s religous.

  11. John John Burke

    Wish this guy would go away what a clown he really is terrible analogy to use whinge whinge whinge he just spouts out leftist garbage a la chomsky and greenwald over and over. This man is becoming a hack of the most irritating kind. Why is the left for the mistreatment of women, honour killings, underage marriage, forced marriage, lack of education female genital mutilation not being allowed to drive a car for christs sake in Saudi Arabia. Its baffling wake up you leftist freaks!

    1. pedeyw

      Isn’t it just possible that Muslims living in western countries disagree with “the mistreatment of women, honour killings, underage marriage, forced marriage, lack of education female genital mutilation not being allowed to drive a car?”

  12. Tired old refrain

    I want to be sick in my mouth

    If there’s anything worse than a concern troll it’s an outrage troll

    FOAD Mercille you male genital

  13. Owen C

    “To repeat the obvious: an act of terrorism committed by a Muslim has nothing to do with the 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. Terrorism is almost always a political act, not a religious act.”

    Much of Islamic religion & politics (and the two are interrelated given the quasi-theological government’s in place in many of them) is similar to the structure of middle-age Christianity (ie which gave way to various religious wars and the Crusades). It is close to impossible to say where the religion ends and the politics starts. One fuels the other: religion is used as a justification to pursue political goals (social policy based on religious beliefs, inter-state rivalries dominated by religo-ethnic differences), and religion itself is part of the political infrastructure (official state religions often with a monopoly, Islam a core building block of the state – ISIS, Saudi, Iran). It is naive in the extreme to think that politics is not hugely interrelated with religion in the Islamic world and at least somewhat the “cause” of the violent events. Christianity was once like that but has moved on in the centuries since, albeit with some countries (Ireland included) slower to separate religion and politics.

  14. Joe

    Irish folk have been asked about supporting IRA terrorist acts in the name of Ireland for decades. Asking Muslims if they support terrorists acts committed in the name of their God is the same thing. It’s sad that it happens but it’s just the way it is. Being generalised isn’t a unique thing that happens to Muslims it happens to lots of groups. The bigger the deal made by those being generalised the happy it makes the folk doing it. Act likes it’s water off a ducks back even if it isn’t and you’ll take away the impact. Make a massive deal about it and they will latch on like a leech.

  15. Twunt

    How can a seemingly intelligent man like Julien, be so stupid.

    Is it deliberate, is he trolling?

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