Editor's Desk

Muslim neighbors

The protesters carried American flags and signs: “America is a Christian Nation. Muslims Are Not Welcome!”

On a recent trip to Dallas I watched on TV as hundreds of Muslims attending a conference were confronted by red-faced protesters carrying American flags and signs: “America Is a Christian Nation. Muslims Are Not Welcome!” “Islamists: Go Back Where You Came From and Take Obama With You!” They were responding to what a tiny cell of Islamic extremists did in Paris—murdering most of the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff, a police officer, and four customers at a kosher grocery store.

Muslims have spoken up in response to the attacks, decrying the violence and distancing themselves from the acts. In Time magazine, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar described how Muslims are required, after a terrorist attack carried out by Islamic extremists, to “disavow and explain—again—how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam.”

Yet it’s not helpful to gloss over the fact that the perpetrators of these acts of violence use the rhetoric, if not the theology, of a form of Islam. As Thomas Friedman wrote, “It is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringes of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.”