Good news from the Muslim world, at least in the USA. The number of Muslim men and women of different ages who publicly dare to expose and to confront the radicals preaching a corrupt ideology is making its voice heard.
I received the confirmation from Zainab Al-Suwaij (pictured above), co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC) after a cuttingly direct speech delivered at the European Institute of Peace at a conference organized in partnership with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.
«The number of people who are speaking out and addressing the issues related to radicalization is definitely increasing» she said. «They are becoming very visible. We cannot put numbers on the table, but you can see there is a growing trend. Years ago they stayed on the defensive. This new attitude is due to the fact that the radicalization process people are experiencing and its consequences have started hitting the homes of normal American Muslims. They are behind the corner».
According to Mrs. Al - Suwaij, the situation just after September 11th was very depressing. «Nobody spoke out. People kept things private. The twin towers attack was perceived by American Muslim as an act against US foreign policy».
Unfortunately, Europe is not experiencing the same trend. «I think European Muslim are not fully aware of the situation. It will take some years before people start to comprehend these kind of things, and lay out the right solutions to address the problem. In the meantime, we have to vet all these imams who come to Europe; we have to look into the mosques and into the Islamic schools, making sure we know what European children of second generation are being taught. We also have to vet the humanitarian organizations and find out if the financial recourses they raised go directly to Syrian women and children and not to the wrong people».
Walking the talk with #voicesagainstradicalim
In 2007 Zainab Al-Suwaij launched Project Nur: a student-led initiative advocating for social justice by empowering responsible leaders to cultivate an environment of acceptance and mutual respect between Muslims and all other communities. Project Nur achieves this mission by fulfilling the following five goals:
Lead a movement to promote principles of human rights and civil rights in the United States and around the world by raising awareness through programs and events.
Engage student leaders in civic and entrepreneurial initiatives by actively participating in projects in local communities and abroad.
Provide a space for every one of different cultural backgrounds and experiences to celebrate the diversity in our nation.
Build the next generation of leaders to remedy the challenges facing the American Muslim community through action-based initiatives focused on promoting coexistence of all communities.
Create the ground for voices of pluralism of American Muslims and American non-Muslims by working with students who are progressive, reformist, liberal, secular, moderate or conservative, without proselytizing and judging Muslims of different thought.
In October 2014, Project Nur officially launched its anti-radicalism campaign, “Voices Against Radicalism, a powerful campaign aimed at encouraging our members to stand up to radical and extremist behaviors and speech aimed at violating the rights of others. Through this campaign, PN chapters provided awareness and education on matters related to the causes of radicalism, victims of radical groups, prevention efforts and case studies discussing groups such as the Islamic State (alternatively known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, and Da’ash), Boko Haram, etc. They did so by holding events, blogging, writing articles and utilizing social media to spread the message that radical groups violating the rights of others will not be tolerated and is never representative of any religious group.