Muslims: Keep calm and carry on

Spencer Platt GETTY IMAGES NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 27: People walk by a controversial ad, which has already been … Continued

Spencer Platt


NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 27: People walk by a controversial ad, which has already been defaced, that condemns radical Islam in a New York subway station on September 27, 2012 in New York City. The ads, which are appearing in New York after a court case ruled in their favor, are being funded by Pamela Geller, who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack site. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Thirty-seconds on Google is all it takes to find material that would be offensive to a particular race, religion, or ethnicity. This makes the last several weeks very interesting as someone who is Muslim. For all the nonsense that can be found, a poorly produced, almost comical movie denigrating prophet Muhammad became the center of controversy in the Muslim world.

Some (not all, but some) Muslims chose to react violently, leading to the death of many innocent individuals, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The riots have also continued to perpetuate a narrative about Muslims generally; that we are crazy, violent, and uncivilized. Thankfully, a number of individuals and Muslim organizations, especially in the United States, denounced the violence swiftly and outright.

Fast-forward about a week later, and move halfway across the globe—in New York City where advertisements are going up on subway train cars that say: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Muslims in New York and throughout the country are outraged, many voicing their opinions to the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the group responsible for the ad.

People are offended. But why? It depends on how you read the sign. If you read it to mean, “Defeat Radical Islam” or “Defeat Terrorism,” then there shouldn’t really be a problem. And it’s true that “savage” is a strong word, but what better way to describe terrorism than “savage?” The argument, of course, is that the sign doesn’t say those things; it simply says “Jihad,” which is meant to imply Islam, not simply radical terrorist organizations.

While the outcry against the sign can be justified, there might be more to gain by remaining apathetic to the sign. More pointedly, Muslims should not to be angered by the sign. It may very well be the case that the motivation behind the sign is not to spread a message, but to provoke a response by Muslims in America. To give naysayers something concrete to point to and say “look at those Muslims, there they go again.” Why give the sign more free press, why turn this into a “debate,” why dignify ignorance with a measured, educated response?

American Muslims have an opportunity to show the world how to handle offensive speech. By ignoring it or making fun of it—not by getting upset over it. We should save our energy, our passion, and our dedication for the fight that really matters: the battle for the soul of Islam. Who speaks for Islam? Is it the millions of peaceful adherents, or the radicals who turn to violence? Because if we don’t win that battle, a subway poster here and a juvenile movie there, will be the least of our problems.

We will never be able to protest against every single piece of bigoted or religiously offensive material. But what we can do is continue to make such claims so absurd, that they cease to have any real value. Every time a Muslim befriends someone, that sign has less influence. Every time a Muslim doctor saves a life, that sign has less influence. Every time a Muslim just lives their life, as any other person would, the narrative sought to be bolstered through ads and movies like we’ve seen over the last few weeks, becomes less powerful.

So in the meantime, keep calm and carry on.

Khurram Dara is the author of “The Crescent Directive: An essay on improving the image of Islam in America.” Follow him on Twitter @KhurramDara.

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  • Kingofkings1

    Mr. Dara,
    What I would like to know is why is there a rush on a multitude of essays teaching muslims how to be grin and bear it? Why not produce a few essays that show the real savages such as Pam Geller that if you want to live in a decent society, you need to respect your neighbors?

  • AbdurRahmanX

    If you call a black person a n_gg_r or a gay person a f_g, nobody is going to “ignore it.” The real problem we are having in America is the system that generates these kinds of articles. It’s nonsense and the only reason this Muslim gets a hearing is because he is not representing Muslims worldwide. There are levels of hate speech that are outlawed in all countries. In Germany, you can’t deny the Holocaust. And you can’t go into a group of black Americans (not be black) and use the N-word. You can’t threaten the President of the United States, not even on the internet. So the premise and call to action of this article (ignore it) are un-American and not even Western. What’s going on here is an attempt to establish special rules that make it okay to conduct hate speech against Muslims only, while the entire rest of Western world is protected and fights with all its might against the same speech when it is conducted against them. Is there an anti Jewish ad in the NY subways? Would they be silent and “ignore it” if someone attempted to post signs on government property that called Jews savages? Case closed…

  • Geo34

    The writer is advising American Muslims against anti-Islamic speech and ads by ‘ignoring it or making fun of it’. He asks them to ‘battle for the soul of Islam’.

    By saying such things, obviously he has proved that he is one of the millions of those silent Muslims who are still living under the delusion that the soul of Islam is peace/surrender to Allah, not hatred. But if that is so, why does he have to advise for repression of anger to his brethren?

    Today, if somebody says that the earth is flat, an educated person simply laughs at him; he does not demand that the person who made such false statement should be put to death or put behind bars.

    If Muslims are so sure of the eternal truth of Islam, why do they not laugh away any statement to the contrary? Why do the heads of Organization of Islamic Conference demand a global ban on free speech against their religion?

    The reason is much deeper. Deep down, all Muslims know that Islam is false; that Jihad is hate speech and incompatible with modern moral values. Can, for example, any non-Islamic society today, accept this Quranic sanction of violence like this:
    9.29 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

    Or, can a science-educated society accept such outdated theory of the origin of the universe as Quran gives:
    21.30 “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before We clove them asunder?”

    The truth is that Islam is false and violent. Muhammad was a false prophet. And that hurts Muslims. Such apologetics are only expressions of that hurt feeling. But they are not cures of the deep malaise Islam suffers from. Islam cannot survive science, cannot survive man’s aspiration for love and peace. It is doomed to die. The

  • paterik

    it’s not the Muslims, in America, you need to worry about so much as it is that black one in Our White House, who wants/needs four more years to continue his incremental, to completion, destruction of America!

  • Kingofkings1

    holo wrote:
    Are Jewish people doing terror,banditry and vandalism everyday and everyday in many places in the world ?
    Yes they are:
    1. Israel is the worst in practicing state terrorism among any group since the cavemen.
    2. Pam Geller has set up a cult on islamophobia which she believes is the responsibility of those who love zionism

  • the_ANTIDRUG

    Hey, Geo33. I agree with the hate speech jihadist stuff; bad news it’s in the Koran.
    But this savage thing; that kinda crossed the line.
    All men can be savage; and the Koran does direct the death of the infidels like me who prays to false gods like Jesus and St. Anthony and St Michael.
    But we gotta talk about this stuff in free speech or people are gonna die- I dont think God wants children to be killed.

    How about you American Muslims, (met many of you in N.Y. during training- wonderful people). Maybe you can say the old stuff dosent apply anymore. You can say that in America.

    Don’t matter to me; live in the country with lots of food, water and weapons.
    But if this crap isnt settled, you big city Jews, Muslims and Christian, Buddists, and atheists will have hell to pay.

  • the_ANTIDRUG

    I forgot my Hindu friends.

  • MitchL

    The bombers were wonderful people???

  • MitchL

    Amen brother!

  • DJWinMassachusetts

    The controversy is over what? One billboard in a city of ten million people? If there hadn’t been a protest against the billboard, it never even would have been noticed, and the bigot who paid for it would be back in her little hole now a few dollars poorer for her spending on useless billboards. Unfortunately, every group (ethnic, religious, whatever) has a small percentage of hot-headed offense-takers who can’t just shrug off insults but must make a federal case about them.

    We have free speech in tis country, folks. This is America, where the Nazis are allowed to march in Skokie. Get used to it. If the racist speech doesn’t incite violence, then ignore it. But, that’s exactly what the author says, isn’t it? I agree with him.

  • Mohamed

    Are you actually suggesting that we Muslims, in the freest nation on Earth where freedom of speech is a pillar of our national rights, say NOTHING about this? That they speak out and we do nothing? Should we attack, protest, kill, by God no, but we can’t do NOTHING; apathy is NEVER the answer, it is our role as everyday, moderate Muslims to go out, to educate, to help, not to sit by and let extremists of other faiths insult us. The vast vast majority of Muslims despise extremism, and the way it wrongfully represents us, but for you to make some call to Muslims to do nothing is almost as bad. Never counter one extreme (rioting, murder, etc.) with another (doing nothing at all).

  • Mohamed

    I am a Muslim. I do not think we should be utterly silent, nor do I think we should hurt others who disagree with us, and I know hundreds upon hundreds of everyday Muslims just like me here in America. These people on here who have clearly read very little (and that they have read has very likely been biased, out-of-context material) and assume they know more about Islam from reading a few passages of the Qur’an than Muslims themselves who recite the Qur’an daily from memory. That’s like trying to claim you know a book better than someone who has read it all, when you’ve only read the first page.
    Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist factions do not represent Islam no more than the Ku Klux Klan represent Christianity. Don’t give in to the anti-Islamic propaganda that seeks to denounce and make savages of over a billion and a half people; 99% of us are caring, giving people, just like you. Peace and love everywhere, thank you!

  • aby

    you want to live in a decent society, you need to respect your neighbors?..
    No one should disagree with this. Yet the truth that in the Arab countries during the Ottoman rule if a Muslim coveted his non-Muslim neighbor’s property would simply accuse his neighbor of “Cursing the Muslim prophet”.This would almost always lead to a conviction of the defendant since his testimony counts as half that of the Muslim. The verdict would be pouring molten lead in the accused mouth and confisicating his property. If that is not neighborly I don’t know what is?

  • edbyronadams

    Making a big fuss about either reinforces the old Hollywood adage.”There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

  • ex-Navy

    Of course these ads are offensive and they were intended to offend. they were also intended to divert attention form israel’s atrocities by essentially saying “don’t look at us, look how bad these guys are” No sale, typical israel propaganda and false choices. Dislike of israel’s apartheid theocratic regime doesn’t mean you support terrorists or terrorism.

  • Kingofkings1

    This is the first time I have read anything similar to what’s in the 2 paragraphs you have written. I believe there are shreds of truth in those 2 paragraphs; however, that’s like saying a molehill is a mountain.
    Extremists exist in all groups. And they do like to make mountains out of molehills. Just read a few postings on this board to confirm

  • longleveler

    When I was a kid there were subway signs with a picture of Nikita Khrushchev and his famous mis-translated, out-of-context quote “We will bury you”.
    Who are the people that make money from hate mongering? Weapons manufacturers? Megalomaniacs? Pudgy pill popping radio talk show hosts?

  • Kingofkings1

    If the KKK submitted its perceptions of jews and blacks in writing and caricatures next week to the WAPO and other media, how many outlets do you think will feel compelled to publish or air their opinions citing respect for free speech?

  • cjride

    What I still don’t understand is why Muslims make caritures of Jews but when it come to them one is not allowed to do the same. The only way I can figure it is that they don’t think Judaism is a true religion so they can make these statements. But them should be allowed feel that Islam teaches death to others and make fun of them.

  • cococo

    Where do we draw the line on basic editorial discretion and total free speech if you have enough money?

    I think the subways are used by enough people that we shouldn’t have to look at offensive stuff every day. Draw up an editorial policy. Insults should not be part of subway ride.

    I remember when I used to have to look at photos of scantily clad women every day in the subways. Despite the porn kings of the period whining about free speech, a lot of people said enough is enough. And I’m speaking as an artist who deals with naked people a LOT. But it was another story with some of the creeps on the subway leering at that stuff and then getting on YOUR car.

  • wranglerrob

    The very fact that a blog thread like this exists is evidence that some folks have their heads in the sand.

    I met a woman from Persia the other day. She asked if that scared me.

    I said no. If she came to escape Mohammadanism and Sharia, she was welcome in the USA.

    If she came to import Mohammadanism and Sharia, we needed to talk.

    Those who want to make America a Sharia-compliant nation will soon be playing cowboys and Muslims.

    Mohammad and Sharia: just plain un-American. We have a Bill of Rights and it is a criminal offense (the Smith Act) to advocate the forceful overthrow of the US Government. By this standard, you tell me how Jihadis should not be tried for treason.

    Mohammad’s followers have been fighting Western Civilization for 1400 years; it is NOT an insult to Mohammad or his “Allah-god” when we FINALLY fight back.

  • jljec

    ex-Navy – Maybe it has something to do with Moslems flying airplanes into our buildings?

  • ramlah

    did u ever read the book the bible the quarun and science and the quarun
    by morris bucaille
    that might help u think about the old caveman beliefs of of islam and how the world was created
    also did u ever read the bibles view of how the universe created
    or yet the torah
    be open mined and soon the world wiill be in ur hands

  • Thehermit

    We need,as a nation of free thinkers, to help replace the culture of Islam with something more worth while. They have to be board to tears with the whole angry zealot thing. Lets try teaching them reason and critical thinking. Surely they will see the error of their ways. I would pray for them if only that type of thing worked. I will instead just ask them to join the real world. Maybe try farming, then work up to plumber, or bricklayer. Propper bricklayer,not that stacking mud thing you do over there. It might take importance from that horrible religion. Good luck.

  • dcrswm

    What? maybe google translate will make your comments less vapid halozcel, give it a try.

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