If Islam needs to be seen through the eyes of the West in order to make sense of itself, how can it find the space for transformation on its own terms?
Zaheer Kazmi in Open Democracy:
Launching a global summit against ‘violent extremism’ in Washington last month, President Obama employed the now familiar language of winning Muslim ‘hearts and minds.’ The meeting was the latest in a long line of similar Western policy initiatives reaching back well over a decade. Calling attention to “a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims” in a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, Obama exhorted the world to “continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam.” This was needed to counter rampant global terror in the name of a perverted vision of Islam, from Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), to Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, and homegrown attacks in North America and Europe.
As if to anticipate the superfluity of Obama’s appeals to amplify the voices of Muslim moderates, Muslims have overwhelmingly stood alongside their fellow citizens to denounce the brutal killings of satirists and Jews in Paris and Copenhagen. Such wanton carnage requires nothing less than unified condemnation from us all. On the day of the Charlie Hebdo murders, Tariq Ramadan, the prominent academic and activist who is often the nub of Islamophobic attacks, immediately took to Twitter with an unequivocalstatement about the assassins’ “betrayal” of Islamic values. His words were accompanied by a now familiar chorus of calls proclaiming that Islam is not extreme but, in fact, quintessentially liberal.