What a Muslim wants you to know about extremist groups

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s post is by Huma T. Yasin


Matthew lives in a small town in Mississippi. About eight months ago, the manufacturing plant that supported eighty percent of the town’s jobs shut down. Matt and the rest of his friends have been diligently looking for jobs, but the market is flooded and nothing is available close by. To make matters worse, they graduated from high school several years ago and lack the education or skill set for any jobs that become available. Half of the town has turned to being either on the supply or demand side of meth, while the other half has built a solid church community to develop fellowship in this difficult time.

Matt and a group of friends from church form a club called “The Gospel Brothers.” They regularly go hunting over the weekends to a large parcel of land owned by one of the boy’s grandparents. During one of the trips, the boys begin discussing how they believe God is punishing them for passively watching the moral decline of American civilization. They talk about sexual promiscuity, abortions, and the rise of homosexuality. After discussing the topics over the course of several months, the boys lay out a plan to track LGBT families in a major Mississippi town close by. They decide to abduct the children of same sex families and raise them as proper Christians. They learn of a family LGBT night at a local restaurant and hold up the restaurant and take the children back to the land where they have their hunting expeditions.

Change small town, Mississippi to any place in the Muslim world and The Gospel Brothers to any terrorist organization you’ve heard of and think about how suddenly the change in color and religion of the perpetrators play a much larger role in your analysis. Why is this? What preconceived notions do you have that feed into viewing the Gospel Brothers as a sad and crazy group of individuals while viewing an organization like Boko Haram as a spokesperson for some legitimate interpretation of Islam?

The unfortunate reality is that we keep looking to the Muslim world as Islam being the defining factor in these organizations, though this is far too simplistic view. Boko Haram did not spring up in a vacuum. These terrorist organizations thrive in areas that are economically underdeveloped, have been ravaged by war, or are in states that are either weak or completely failed. Imagine if the above hypothetical actually occurred in the United States, how many days until local and national government would have coordinated efforts to find these children? How long until these children were reunited with their families? It’s possible, with the current level of surveillance and security, the plot would have been foiled before it even came to fruition. Compare this to the government in Nigeria, with the Boko Haram kidnapping, or Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Taliban. These are not apple-to-apple comparisons, where only religion of the assailants is noteworthy. Lawlessness runs rampant in these areas, where there is no hope for social and economic mobility and weapons are more often easily acquired than food.

Media keeps telling us that there isn’t enough of a “Muslim response” (in fact there has been a strong Muslim response, but that’s not really the issue). What do they expect Muslims to say: “Hey, we’re not all psychotic misogynists! We don’t believe that girls should be kidnapped from their homes and sold into slavery or raped!” Does that really need to be publicly stated by 1.2 billion Muslims across the globe? Did the Pope ever come out and say that Catholicism doesn’t stand for pedophilia? Do Baptists need to stand up as a group and condemn an abortion clinic that is bombed? Isn’t this an obvious human tragedy where all of us sit with our hands tied behind our backs because we can’t do a damn thing about it besides feel a gnawing sense of pain and anger?

Lets not convolute the issue by identifying it as a religious issue. Lets call it what it is – it is human trafficking in a state that has no control over its population. If we are really concerned about these girls, then lets work to educate ourselves about the globe and how we may inadvertently contribute to failed states. Lets educate ourselves, so we can educate the world.


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