Opinion: Tens Of Thousands Of Muslims Gathered For Peace — Here's Why You Didn't Hear About It

It was a remarkable event that happens every year.

Boris Johnson's bigoted comments against Muslim women are yet another example of a wealthy, privileged White man targeting already marginalized women of color. But there's a deeper cancer enabling Johnson's hate that cannot go ignored.

On fears built by a massive industry designed to "other-ize" Muslims, western governments have restricted immigration, enforced enhanced screening for Muslim travelers, and sanctioned nations from which some Muslims have migrated. Some western governments have waged war, conventional or via drone strikes, killing thousands of civilians in the process. Currently, the United States and the United Kingdom are bombing eight Muslim majority nations — and also supporting Saudi Arabia to wreak havoc on millions of Yemeni civilians.

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But, as critics object, if only Muslims didn't commit so much terrorism, there wouldn't be a need for such a strong response. In reality, according to Europol, from 2009-2015, less than two percent of terrorist attacks in Europe have been "religiously motivated." In the most recent year's data available, 2016, Europol reports that Muslims committed only nine percent of Europe's terrorist attacks. And yet, a recent study found that terrorism committed by Muslims receives 357 percent more coverage than terrorism committed by any other demographic.

Via: Ahmadiyya gallery

Without reading the above report, how many acts terrorism in Europe can you cite committed by another demographic, let alone the other 91 percent of attacks?

But critics further object, what is preventing Muslims from marching in the public sphere to promote peace and condemn terrorism? Well, notwithstanding that Muslims are under no obligation to do so, consider the deeper cancer that prevents knowledge of Muslims serving humanity from becoming mainstream. 

Last weekend, at the behest of an Islamic Khalifa, 38,510 Muslim women, men, and children from over 100 nations traveled to the United Kingdom. Their mission? A three-day national peace conference dedicated to love of God, love of all humanity, and the need to protect universal freedom of conscience for all people of all faiths and no faith. Inspired by their Khalifa, these tens of thousands of Muslims collaborated on building hospitals and schools worldwide for public use, raised tens of millions to combat hunger and famine, and volunteered millions of hours to offer humanitarian aid, plant trees, and run shelters. Throughout the weeks preceding the conference hundreds of attendees contacted local, regional, and national media to report on the U.K.'s largest and longest running Islamic conference. 

Given the constant and often maniacal calls for Muslims to demonstrate peace with action, not just words, you would expect prime-time coverage of such a remarkable event. After all, why would critics demand Muslims "speak up," but ignore us when we do?

Unfortunately, this hypocritical double standard is precisely the cancer that helps enable Johnson and those like him.

Chances are this article is the first, or among the first, articles you've seen reporting on the 52nd annual Jalsa U.K., held last weekend in Alton. This is Britain's largest and longest running Islamic peace conference, and it is open to the public. Hosted by the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and chaired by the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Jalsa drew 38,510 Muslims from over 100 countries this year. And yes, we met to protect universal human rights, collaborated to build hospitals, schools, and shelters, and championed women's progress. But mass media, and public critics, largely ignored us. Instead, they remain serial in their apathy towards Muslims who fight the Jihad for human rights with our pens. The Jalsa U.K. notwithstanding, what prevented mass cable media from reporting on a similar Jalsa USA last month that drew 12,000 Muslims, or Jalsa Canada that drew 20,000 Muslims, or Jalsa Germany next month that is expected to draw 40,000 people?

Via: Ahmadiyya gallery

Journalism exists to demand accountability of those in power. Instead, the media apathy on how Muslims are reported on is severely damaging. This apathy permits bigoted comments like that of Boris Johnson's to go unchecked. It enables hate crimes against Muslims, particularly against Muslim women, to spike to record highs. And it enables a nation to tolerate or ignore foreign policy that is currently supporting horrific and deadly atrocities against Muslim majority nations. 

Major events like Jalsa U.K., Jalsa Canada, and Jalsa Germany aren't just about Muslims condemning terrorism and promoting peace. Such Jalsas are held in dozens of nations worldwide to promote humanity across faiths and cultures — a humanity currently ignored—and thus foster desperately needed bridges of international justice and peace. 

When media disproportionately ignores such positive contributions by Muslims to humanity, while disproportionately highlights negative acts by Muslims, they enable the discord and terrorism they profess to combat.

Far from holding people like Boris Johnson accountable, they enable him.

Qasim Rashid is a national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and Truman National Security Fellow. Follow him @MuslimIQ.

Cover image via Koca Vehbi / Shutterstock

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