We’ve all heard it before. In the wake of violence carried out by Muslims, a proverbial echo:
“Why aren’t Muslims speaking out? Why aren’t they condemning these acts, done in the name of their religion?”
It’s a common exhortation, one that is ever the more amplified in the age of ISIS. Begged in earnest by some and demanded in anger by others, the question reveals as much about the person asking it as it does about the assumed absence of Muslim denunciations.
This incessant query supposes that Muslims the world over haven’t publicly rejected the violence of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. More importantly, though, it highlights the inability or refusal on the part of those who ask the question to find out if, in fact, Muslims really haven’t spoken out. But Muslims have spoken out. Loudly. A simple Google search reveals tens of dozens of condemnations. There are lists. There are listicles. There are hashtags. There are even comical Tumblrs. These are great resources that gather together statements from Muslim clergy, organizations, and political leaders. Yet, lists chronicling denunciations of al-Qaeda are hard to navigate, or only provide a smattering of statements from Muslim leaders. Condemnations in other languages are not included. Hashtag campaigns live and die with headlines. Even these resources, which are desperately needed, present a skewed portrait of what’s actually happening, of who is actually speaking out.
As part of an ongoing project that monitors and maps Muslims’ condemnations of terrorism, The Bridge Initiative offers this summary of Muslims’ condemnations of ISIS. It’s the most comprehensive catalog ever compiled.
To date, we’ve identified condemnations from more than 80 religious, civil, and political organizations, from 92 countries on six continents. From Argentina to Canada, from Alaska to Australia, Muslims have denounced ISIS. There are dozens of local student groups, tens of dozens of online campaigns and joint statements, and scores of public demonstrations and protests. Government leaders from the top 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations have condemned the group, as have some 14 Grand Muftis (the highest official of religious law in Sunni Muslim countries).
In the coming weeks, this resource will be fully interactive, allowing site visitors to filter them based on their search preferences, view the specific details, and export info-graphics to social media. This resource will be updated on a regular basis. We also plan to create similar maps of Muslims’ condemnations of other terrorist groups and acts. The aim of this project is the same one that underscores all of The Bridge Initiative’s work: to challenge narratives that contribute to Islamophobia through accessible research that resonates with the public. The assumption that Muslims don’t reject violence carried out in the name of their religion is an incorrect one, but it contributes to the harmful stereotype that Islam, and all Muslims, are inherently violent. By locating, centralizing, and featuring the countless denunciations from around the world, we disrupt that narrative. We hope that this resource will be utilized and disseminated by journalists, politicians, and other thought leaders, so that the question, “Why aren’t Muslims speaking out?” will fade away.