Interview With a Muslim


Q: Charlie Hebdo. Muslims go in, shoot up the place, yell Allahu Akbar.

A: I’m a humorist. I’m a satirist. I’m a journalist. I’m a writer. It’s terrible.


Q: Have you condemned the attack?

A: I’m sorry, what?


Q: Do you as a Muslim condemn this attack?

A: Well yes. But.


Q: Why do you hesitate?

A: If I condemn the attack I could make it seem like I’m justifying a collective guilt. That worries me.


Q: CNN is asking Muslims to condemn the attack. It’s not just me.

A: I didn’t see CNN ask anyone to condemn the bombing of the NAACP office in Colorado. But that happened too.  I guess it didn’t matter as much. #FrenchLivesMatter more than #BlackLivesMatter.


Q: It’s not the same thing.

A: Three mosques were attacked in Sweden in the last three weeks. One was set on fire, with people inside. Just recently thousands of Germans gathered against ‘Islamization.’ Somehow I don’t think they mean a handful of radicals.


Q: So you’re saying you don’t condemn the attack.

A: I already condemned it. What else do you need to hear?


Q: Well maybe Muslims should go out in the streets, to protest, to show people they don’t agree. To make it clear.

A: I should think when thousands of French are gathering in solidarity and #KillAllMuslims is trending on Twitter that being visibly Muslim in public would not be a good idea.


Q: Well then condemn it in print. On the radio. On TV. Where, for example, are the Muslims condemning ISIS?

A: You mean other than the tens of thousands of Muslims who are fighting them, being killed by them, and trying to stop them? You mean the 140+ children who were slaughtered in Peshawar by the Taliban? Most of the victims of Muslim violence are Muslim.


Q: So you’re saying Muslims are more violent than other people?

A: I never said that.


Q: Well why does it look that way?

A: When’s the last time you saw concentration camps for Muslims on the news? But that’s happening, in Myanmar.


Q: So you’re saying Muslims are innocent?

A: I’m saying the world is a complicated place. And just as I condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo I condemn attacks on all people. I fear what this selectivity means. It betrays a structural bias so powerful we can barely see it.


Q: Are you saying this attack is justified?

A: No. Of course not. I’m saying let’s not make this an occasion to empower still more people with violence on their minds.


Q: Context can be mistaken for justification.

A: It’s a good thing CNN isn’t providing any context right now.


Q: So where does this leave us? Do Muslims condemn terror?

A: If I speak, it is used against me, and if I do not speak, it is used against me. I condemn violence against the innocent. I think what happened in Paris was horrible. Do I need to say more?