Within hours of the attacks in Paris, the familiar ritual began: the calls for Muslims to denounce ISIS rolled in, as they inevitably do after a terrorist attack by a group claiming to act in the name of Islam.
This is a common occurrence, and Muslims — myself included — are tired of it. We're tired of being held responsible for the atrocities committed by individuals whose actions and beliefs are abhorrent to us and completely at odds with our values and our understanding of our religion. We're also tired of people acting as if we haven't already condemned ISIS, al-Qaeda, and terrorism over and over and over, loudly, publicly, "unreservedly," and in great detail.
It just starts to get old after a while.
Which is why when people on social media began echoing politicians in the UK who demanded that Muslims denounce ISIS, one British Muslim teenager decided he'd had just about enough of that nonsense, and posted this on his Facebook page:
His post went viral. J.K. Rowling and Stephen King even retweeted his post once it made its way to Twitter. So did a member of the European parliament:
I got in touch with Kash over Facebook to ask what motived him to write that post. Kash — who consistently addressed me as "Miss Williams" — told me:
It wasnt the views or opinions of politicians that made me respond but the views of the general public
when fridays terror attacks happened which were extremely unfortunate there were only 2 opinions on my twitter time line
the first was of people demanding an apology for what happened which was met by either muslims apologising for the acts that occured or the other view, which was my view of muslims asking why we should apologise as ISIS has nothing to do with Islam?
This isn't the first time Muslims have used social media to express irritation at being told to "do more" to counter extremist ideology and to apologize for the actions of strangers who have perverted our beliefs and who actually kill way more Muslims than they do any other group. The Twitter hashtag #MuslimApologies went viral a while back (with some unanticipated consequences for yours truly), with Muslims using the hashtag to point out the absurdity of being asked to apologize for things well beyond our control. Some were serious, emphasizing the various contributions Islam has made to the world:
And some were just downright hilarious:
There's also the "Muslims Condemning Things" Tumblr blog, and my all-time favorite is Daniel Haqiqatjou's brilliant satirical piece for Muslim Matters in which he unveiled "the world's first Muslim denunciation app: the iCondemn®!"
With the iCondemn®, Muslims can say 'not in my name' at the speed of life!™ And non-Muslims no longer need to wonder whether 1.6 billion Muslims around the world feel the guilt and sincerely apologize for that latest reprehensible crime some idiot carried out while shouting 'Allahu Akbar!' ... It even issues condemnations of events in the past, like the source of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and British imperialism.
But wait, there's more! "With a $4.99 upgrade, the app comes with the Guilt-O-Meter®, which accurately gauges how nervous Western Muslims are feeling right about now."
But it's not all fun and games. Anti-Islam rhetoric has real consequences. A Pew survey conducted in September 2014 found that 50 percent of Americans polled believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions. The Huffington Post has compiled "A Running List Of Shameful Islamophobic Acts Since The Paris Attacks" that includes some truly disturbing and violent incidents.
On Wednesday, in an interview with Yahoo News, Donald Trump was asked if he would consider implementing security measures such as registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion if he were to become president. According to the article, Trump said he "wouldn't rule it out."
And there's a real irony to all this: The much-demanded Muslim denunciations might not even hurt ISIS. As William McCants, the director of the Project on US Relations With the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution and an expert on jihadist groups, pointed out in my recent interview with him, ISIS thrives on denunciations by mainstream Muslims, as it plays into their narrative that we're all deluded or corrupt and that they represent the "true" interpretation of Islam. So every time we denounce them, it just proves their point.
But there is some good news. For those of you who empathized with Kash's relationship struggles, he posted an update:
Best of luck to you, Kash.