I was as shocked as any sensible human being would have been when I learned about the senseless, heinous, appalling and cowardly act that took place in Paris this week. This attack is shocking, and offends the conscience of every sane person, regardless of their religious identity. I wish to stress, categorically and unequivocally, our complete solidarity and unwavering support for the French people in their plight and their determination to combat terror. The innocent victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. The whole Muslim community is in a state of mourning, like French people are, since an attack of this magnitude is actually an attack on all humanity, as our Holy Book emphasizes.
Terrorist groups flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up for their cowardly acts of violence. Their ideological fallacy reveal their warped logic and ill-informed and unauthentic sources, which they turn to in order to justify their insatiable desire for power, control and bloodshed. These ideologies of hate and terror must be challenged and expunged.
But where did all this begin? In Islam as well as in other religions, we are witnessing a phenomenon in which people without a sound foundation in religious learning attempt to represent themselves as religious authorities, even though they lack the scholarly qualifications for making valid interpretations of religious law and ethics. It is this unruly and incongruous attitude towards religion that paves the way for extremist interpretations of Islam that are not based in reality.
Furthermore -- and this is very important -- none of these extremists have been educated in Islam in credible centers of Islamic learning. They are, rather, products of troubled environments and have subscribed to distorted and misguided interpretations of Islam that have no basis in traditional Islamic doctrine. Their aim is to create havoc and chaos in the world.
There is, it must be said, another part to this equation. I have been absolutely clear and candid in condemning all acts of terrorism and vigilantism like this one, and I reiterate that Islam stands strongly against extremism of all kinds. If we wish to tackle this problem, however, we must make an effort to properly understand the many factors that drive terrorism and extremism of all kinds in the modern world. Otherwise, we run the risk of never being able to properly address and eradicate this plague. There is no option but to understand this if we are serious about building a better future, one which confronts and ends this serious situation that threatens people in all parts of the globe.
We must remember, however, that as recent events in many parts of the world indicate, violent extremism knows no particular faith. It is rather a perversion of the human condition, and must be dealt with as such. We are all responsible, collectively, to fight against such deviance. Muslims, Europeans, Americans, Asians -- we all have homework to do to eradicate this menace, and the burden must be shared by all of us.
A true spirit of cooperation is indispensable at this critical time -- for that reason, I worry about the exploitation of raw emotions by fanatical groups, who could place the very existence of Muslims in Europe in jeopardy. Blaming an entire religion, and targeting a diverse and overwhelmingly peaceful religious community because of the actions of a few outcasts is not only patently unfair, but also counterproductive with regards to achieving our shared goals of combating terror.
It is important for us at this time of great sadness to stand together and process this horrific incident in a way that is fair and just. It is important that we refrain from demonizing Muslims without cause -- not because that would benefit Muslims, but because our ability to eradicate terror depends on it.
_______________ This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany.
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