Monday, 8 August 2016

"Anti-Muslim ignorance helps terrorists"

Letter attacking me, in yesterday's South China Morning Post (August 7).
I note that since Bazarwala's first letter, there have been three letters challenging his view about the alleged "tiny minority" of Muslims who are terrorists, but Bazarwala chose to attack only me, since, I guess, I was the only one to put actual figures to the number of Muslims who support the likes of ISIS.  My figures are correct, btw.

Anti-Muslim ignorance helps terrorists
I refer to the vitriolic and anti-Muslim letter by Peter Forsythe ­(“Millions of Muslims back ­Islamic State”, July 27) in reply to my letter (“Vast majority of ­Muslims are peaceful”, July 17).
Your correspondent accuses me of intellectual dishonesty and yet grossly misrepresented a Pew Research poll misleadingly stating that “63 million Muslims” supported IS.
The poll available online published in November, 2015 actually found that Muslim views of IS are “overwhelmingly negative across the Muslim world” or the exact opposite of what your correspondent claimed, stigmatising a lot of Muslims as extremists. Incidentally, Fox News personality and anti-Muslim demagogue Sean Hannity made the same claim citing the same “63 million Muslims” supported IS, and was roundly condemned by Media Matters for America for spreading misinformation.
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump made a similar claim in a CNN interview on March 9 and not for the first time was mocked for his ignorance. You published an article by Niall Ferguson (“Brussels bombings make clear terrorist networks cannot be defeated in isolation”, April 2) in which he, too, erroneously cited the same number.
Misinformation about Islam and Muslims is spreading like wildfire, thanks in large part to irresponsible reporting and near absent fact-checking by the press.
Just as shocking, Mr Forsythe asserts terrorist barbarities are not linked to foreign policy ­failures.
He fails to see how the ­illegal Iraq invasion, war in Afghanistan and Libya, blanket support of hideous allies in the Middle East, the betrayal of ­Palestine, the complicity in extrajudicial killings and torture and ongoing deep prejudices, kickstarted by neo-con opportunists well before 9/11, have made the world inflammable and unsafe today. This is a fact widely acknowledged by ­renowned intellectuals the world over, such as ­Noam Chomsky.
In the end, however, the false narratives by people like your correspondent provide ammunition to the terrorists. We should try to marginalise this threat now. We should do this, not by framing religion as a threat but as a tool to end terrorism by battling against the incessant culture of falsification and witchhunts against ­Islam and ordinary Muslims ­today, something misinformation, drones and Islamophobia have only made worse.
Siddiq Bazarwala, Discovery Bay