Journal #7 – Challenging the Radical

Posted: March 16, 2011 in Weekly Journal Entries

ABC News:

SF Gate: (Rep. Mike Honda’s piece)


Washington Post: (Japanese American community (incl.  Rep. Mike Honda) opposition)

Freethought Nation: (Muslim reformer in support of hearings)


To say the least on this subject, I am confused.  Prior to Stacy’s request that we read and discuss this current event, I actually did not know what was happening.  Having read through multiple reports and opinions on the matter (though I am evidently wary of a certain view on the subject..), I wouldn’t say that I’m confident in what I’m about to discuss, but this is at least what went on in my mind.

For my journal entry, I will focus on the last link that I posted above from “Freethought Nation”.  The writer, Tawfik Hamid, is a Muslim who supports the congressional hearings on Radical Islam.  Now at first, just the idea of a Muslim supporting these hearings completely confused me.  Why would any person belonging to a religion support specific targeting of their religion? The idea of having a large political discussion targeting only a specific group of people is quite disturbing and reminiscent of historic actions of racial profiling, or even debates over immigration that primarily focuses on the Mexican community.  Alas, I digress.

Going into this, I was wary of Hamid’s view as I already made point not to read more conservative opinions (FOX..) in fear of total anger and frustration overcoming me.  The poignant aspect to this article, though, is that Hamid is himself a Muslim reformer who once was involved in a more “extreme” group of Muslims. The issue I often have with strong opinions over religion is that they are frequently made by those who do not practice that religion, hence my avoiding of articles where White Christians were the main speakers in the subject of Islam.  It’s like asking any random White American to discuss the Southeast Asian refugee experience.  It just doesn’t work.

Hamid, in his article, present reasoning for these hearings on challenging Radical Islam.  Much of it has to do with statistics correlating radical Muslims to large scale incidents.  He argues that there should be more work in addressing the teachings that are influencing Radical Islam in favor of a “new understanding of Islam that challenges values of hatred or violence”.  He ends by calling for greater recognition and admittance of the things that are going on within the Muslim community and to work on addressing it rather than ignoring and defending Islam on a whole.

I have to admit, that I found myself agreeing to much of what Hamid stated.  Many times, I take issues with religious extremists who choose not to see things in different perspectives.  Often viewing their religion as the only right way, they reach the point where they can be downright harassing to other groups.  This is in no way reserved to Muslims, but those of other faiths as well.  I for one have feared extremists within the Christian community for their acts of defamation against those not aligned with their views.  It honestly scares me what some groups who are so fervent in their beliefs will do in order to persuade that others are “wrong”.  In this sense, I agree with Hamid that religious extremism needs to be addressed, however unlike him, I would not exclude it only to Muslim extremists.  But what role does the government play in addressing the practice of religion?  With instances of the Westboro Baptist Church, their actions have been permitted under the First Amendment.  I am unsure if they ever committed actions as extreme as that of certain terrorist groups, but there is no doubt that they are causing psychological damage within some communities.

Where am I going with this? I guess I understand much of Hamid’s argument in that there needs to be acknowledgement and some form of action in addressing Radical Islam, but is the government really the appropriate approach?  I greatly fear that as this continues to be debated in congressional hearings, the public view of Muslims will only continue to become more negative as people will accuse those opposing the hearings to be terrorists and perpetuating the stigma against Muslims and Muslim Americans.  What is the solution then?  I don’t know.  Religion just frustrates me to no end sometimes in how it affects some individuals to act.  I respect religion in its capability of providing those who practice it guidelines to be a more ethical and wholesome person, but some just take interpretations of scriptures far too extreme and lead to the tension and fear that exists today.

  1. stacymarple says:

    your journals are always interesting, and I really appreciate the work you did on this one, particularly finding the article by Hamid. You have touched on one of the great irony’s of this moment, that it is really one religious extremist going after a group of religious extremists! I like the idea of having hearings for none, or across the board for all religious extremists.

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