From the Field

Nashville Muslim leader: Amid disgust over Hebdo shootings, there is hope

Kalia Abiade • Jan 16, 2015

The leader of the Nashville-based American Center for Outreach wrote Thursday that he is disgusted and frustrated after the vicious Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris last week. In an Op-Ed for The Tennessean, Paul Galloway says it is deeply frustrating that despite “American Muslims, along with Islamic scholars around the world, publicly and consistently condemning all forms of terrorism…people still don’t seem to know where we stand.”

Amid the disgust and frustration, Galloway also expresses a sense of hope, and he outlines the importance of recognizing anti-Muslim activists and Muslim terrorists as two sides of the same hateful coin. He writes:

More and more people are starting to see the symbiotic relationship between Muslim terrorists and the anti-Muslim propaganda machine.

Just like our society has done with racism and general bigotry, people are noticing the ridiculous lies and exaggerations in a lot of the coverage of Muslims.

It is becoming increasingly clear that anti-Muslim bigots are the mirror image of Muslim terrorists. More dangerously, the two groups reinforce the claims of the other.

Both Muslim haters and Muslim terrorists promote a clash of civilizations by claiming that Islam and “the West” are in irreconcilable conflict. Both advance extremist views of Islam that are categorically rejected by legitimate Islamic scholarship and the vast majority of Muslims.

Terrorists, like bigots, seek to divide. To survive, they must perpetuate conflict and social strife. Furthermore, both terrorists and bigots are defined by what they are against — not what they have to offer. And perhaps most importantly, terrorists as well as bigots are forced to try and justify their evil means with the values and beliefs of those they seek to recruit.

Galloway says American Muslims deeply value the right to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assembly and the ability to petition our government — all rights that give him hope.

“It is also how we use these rights in the free market of ideas that will help us unite and heal our communities,” he concludes. “Let’s get to work.”

Read the full Op-Ed at The Tennessean.


Paul Galloway is the executive director at the American Center for Outreach, a Muslim civic engagement organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.

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