I don’t know how to ‘own’ this problem of ISIS.

And the simple reason is that ISIS has not, does not, will never own my allegiance. This is stating the obvious but there are people too thick to figure this out by themselves.
ISIS has killed more Muslims than non-Muslims. Some were killed for refusing to swear loyalty to them. Female Muslim doctors were killed for refusing to wear veils when treating patients. There is a whole catalogue of horrors that they have perpetrated, including the rapes of women and the killing of children. I can’t even bring myself to watch any of their execution videos because just the description sickens me to the core of my being.

I don’t know how to ‘own’ a problem in which there is every possibility that I will be one of those executed. Why is it so hard to understand that these people are as remote to me as they are to you, that I have absolutely no access to nor influence over them, that I will be considered as much of an enemy to them as you are?

And as much as I don’t go around blaming the West and saying that it is all one big Zionist conspiracy, I do want to say that ISIS is not merely a problem that is only theological. It is geopolitical. Proxy wars are being waged, between the US and Russia, between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is sociological. Radicalisation targets many who feel alienated in or oppressed by their host communities. To insist that only Muslims ‘own the problem’ is to let all the other contributing agents off the hook.

So those of you who insist on telling Muslims to ‘own the problem’, do ask yourself why you are doing it. Does it give you the bully’s pleasure to associate someone with the very worst of (in)humanity? Do you think that there is not enough self-criticism within the Muslim community and having a discussion about ISIS will force some soul-searching? (In which case you really haven’t hung out with enough Muslims.) Or do you just need some ‘moderate Muslims’ to ‘apologise’ so that you can seize the opening to go off on one of your Islamophobic rants?

I keep hearing all these demands about ‘moderate Muslims’ needing to publicly denounce what the extremist ones are doing. And very often these platforms are subsequently hijacked by those who go on to denounce Islam. So it’s not surprising that many of us would prefer to keep our thoughts–the sorrow at the senseless murder of innocents, the anguish at how verses are interpreted into an ideology we can’t even recognise–private.

If you know of anyone who endorses what ISIS is doing, then go ahead and ask them to ‘own the problem’.

Leave the other Muslims alone. We don’t owe you any explanation or statement on something which we can even barely imagine or comprehend, much less condone or justify.

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