I know what Muslims are like

Published: December 1, 2015
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Demonstrators call themselves the "Anti-CAIR". (Council on American-Islamic Relations) PHOTO: TWITTER/ZAHID ARBAB

I haven’t written many articles or newsletters this year. Part of the reason is that I’ve been busy on other fronts, in my personal life as well as working on a couple of new book projects, plus launching a modest book-publishing venture (the website is still a work in progress).

But I also don’t think the world needs a steady stream of op-eds and tweets, opinions and “quick takes”, from me, any more than it needs them from anybody else. Part of our problem these days is that we all have all too much to say.

So I’m writing now to say something I consider important: that the Muslims I know are not like the ones you see on TV. Anyone who knows me either personally or through my writing knows that I’ve said that many times before, in different forms and venues. I really don’t know how to say it differently or better, or to write other than out of my own experience. My personal exposure to Muslim people began in Kashmir in 1994 and continued in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and especially Pakistan, where my extensive travel culminated in a stint living and teaching in Lahore in 2003-04 and the publication of my book “Alive and Well in Pakistan”. Since then I’ve returned to Pakistan twice, in 2009 and 2011.

And since returning to live in the United States in 2006, I’ve put in a lot of time and air miles getting to know Pakistani-American communities from coast to coast. I can say that I haven’t agreed with or even personally liked every Muslim I’ve ever met, but then again I haven’t agreed with or liked every Christian or Jew I’ve met, either. Human nature is what it is.

So we have to deal with each other, and with ourselves. It should go without saying – but I’d better say it anyway – that the carnage perpetrated in Paris by Islamist radicals is appalling and utterly without justification. But I don’t want to live in an America ruled by fear and loathing, bullied by those among us who lack the self-control or self-respect to resist yielding to their lowest animal impulses. At the moment, I’m speaking in particular of the cretins who have been terrorising an Islamic centre in Irving, Texas by showing up there armed with automatic rifles, which unfortunately happens to be legal in Texas. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean they’re not cretins and bullies.

And I take this personally because the same outfit, led by a coward named David Wright, has also published on Facebook the home addresses of Muslims and so-called “Muslim sympathisers” who spoke out at a recent Irving city council meeting against an unnecessary and incendiary “anti-shariah” Texas state law.

Shame on me for the following, but I was especially brought up short by the fact that one of the addresses published was that of an activist named Anthony Bond, i.e. apparently a non-Muslim American just like me. That World War II-era poem about how first they came for the Socialists, then they came for the Jews, etc comes to mind.

You could object that bullies like David Wright don’t represent or lead mainstream America. But if they don’t, who does? And who among us will stand up against large, aggressive men armed with automatic rifles, for the principle that might does not make right? Well, Anthony Bond will, for one.

“We have a right to disagree, but we do not have the right to target and cause … harm just because we differ in our beliefs,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “That is the goal of this post: to put a bulls-eye on the back of all the people that stood up against the so-called anti-Shariah law bill.”

The other crucial principle to stand up for in today’s America is that it’s not all right to judge or punish or intimidate people solely or pre-emptively on the basis of the religion they were born into. Perhaps I have an advantage in this, since I know many Muslims personally. And I know what they’re like: for better or worse, they’re just like you and me.

This post originally appeared here

Ethan Casey

Ethan Casey

Author of "Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time", "Overtaken By Events: A Pakistan Road Trip" and "Bearing the Bruise: A Life Graced by Haiti" among other books, Ethan tweets as @EthanCasey

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Time Is Up

    CAIR is looked upon as a big apologists for the radicals and sympathizers for Muslim brotherhood. In west people who are bringing a positive spin in being Muslims are the Ahmediyyas.Recommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    I thank you Ethan from the bottom of my heart !!!!Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    Lucky for you , you were not caught by Taliban like David Coleman. In that case your opinion to the following afterlife companions would be quite interesting to hear.Recommend

  • IndianDude

    …..Part of the reason is that I’ve been busy on other fronts, in my personal life …
    I am sure..
    Having one of your employee, previously serving US high level state department, being under FBI investigation for spying for a enemy country and currently black listed by the US state department..
    has nothing to with your being free now..Recommend

  • Rabia

    Very well put ….. Felt nice … People should know or research before giving their verdict or propagate hatred about Muslims.. Muslims are not Talibans , brutal killers rather their belief mainly resides on love , peace and prosperity … I’m a proud to be a Muslim and A Pakistani… Peace ….Recommend

  • Time Is Up

    I agreed with you – Muslims are not Talibans, however ALL Taliban are Muslims. Radicals (Taliban) they live among Muslims (in their homes – as sympathizer) and pray in same mosques. It should be community’s job to throw them out in public.Recommend

  • IndianDude

    @Time Is Up • 14 hours ago
    …In west people who are bringing a positive spin in being Muslims are the Ahmediyyas.

    You are absolutely right! The Ahmediyyas community leaders were all over FOX, CNN and other network, claiming their faith is Islam, pretty much proselytizing the Ahmediyyat. While the Ahmediyyas were championing their cause on western tvs like FOX, CNN etc., in Pakistan they were being attacked and their properties were being burned to ground.

    That is the mother of all Ironies, the Ahmediyyas were championing the virtue of their religion/Islam to the west, they were not even considered Muslim (i.e. being killed for blasphemy ) by Pakistani state and its people.Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    When you mix law with religion you get anarchy. My dear Pakistanis will vouch for that. You create different laws for citizens of a country, there will be discontent and later disharmony leading to violence of which we Indians will stand witness.Recommend

  • Aatif Chaudhry

    FYI, Ahmadiyyas are not muslims, they have reverted. Their belief about the last prophet is different than us, so they are not counted as muslims.
    You can judge their outlook as a positive spin or whatever, but for us, they aren’t among us.
    Peace! Recommend

  • Aatif Chaudhry

    Time Is Up, Talibans (Other than Afghani, led by Mullah Umer) are not muslims, if they were muslims, they wouldn’t have bombed mosques and killed innocent children in Pakistan or anywhere. They look like us, same as the paid gangsters named ISIS.
    There time is up in Pakistan as the army has been following and killing these miscreants in their mountainous heaven.
    FYI, Our religion Islam has very strict orders against those who have beards but kill people like a duty. Muslims are warned to stay away from their trap (Islamic Image)
    Peace! Recommend

  • Time Is Up

    When you say they are not muslims, are they non-Muslims, like Jews, Hindus, Christains etc?Recommend

  • Time Is Up

    Thanks, but I asked Ahmadiyyas they say they are Muslims.
    So whom do I trust?Recommend

  • siesmann

    Then also accept that Muslims are counted as terrorists,must be true.It is Muslims like you(so called)that go hunting Ahmadis and other minoroties in Pakistan.You hate in the name of Prophet and Islam and still insist you are Muslim to the exclusion of others..You have the audacity to take over function of Allah upon you.Who are you to decide who stays in Islam or not?Recommend

  • siesmann

    They have no choice.These very Mullahs and their hordes(like Aatif Chaudhary above) are after them for misrepresenting Islam or not speaking for Islam(off course they,Ahmadis, are the ones building schools and hospitals in Islam,s name all over the world ,while these bigots are busy manufacturing and exporting terrorists).Off course,like terrorist in general,they will take there hate upon Ahmadis in Pakistan.You are right though-only followers of Islam kill if someone leaves Islam,and at the same time kill those who wish to stay in it.That is the grandmother of ironies.Recommend

  • siesmann

    People will believe you when you start standing with and speak for the oppressed in Pakistan.Only In the last month factories of Ahmadis were torched(fortunately they themselves managed to escape ,but intent of the Muslim crowd was obvious),the businesses in Lahore were putting up signs ordering Ahmadis to stay away,3 Ahmadis were shot in Karachi,and some Ahmadis were jailed for reading the Quran.Did you or any of the Muslims you claim are different from Taliban ,do anything about that?For Ahmadis and other minorities in Pakistan ,a Muslim/-a like you is worse than Taliban.At least Taliban don’t hide their intent.Recommend

  • Ajay

    Among Hindus also there are Vaishnavs and Shiites while some are Jains and some are Arya Samajis. Some even dont like Idol Worship. But we dont kill each other. We respect each ones view. The Vedas teach us that all religions or sects are different path leading to the same human goal, which is divinity and spirituality. Recommend