Nolan Finley’s Jan. 11 column, “Coddling of Islam fueled Paris attack,” has three problematic propositions that are inflammatory, not corrective.

The two al-Qaida affiliated French extremists who attacked Charlie Hebdo over a disdainful portrayal of the prophet Muhammad do not even constitute .00001 percent of France’s Muslim population, which exceeds 5 million. Likewise, the extremists who attempted to assassinate a Danish cartoonist in 2006 over a similar caricature constitute a ridiculously low percentage of Danish Muslims.

The millions of European Muslims who reacted with peaceful disdain to these cartoons continue to be ignored. Surely, Finley would never make the leap to paint Christianity as having a problem with intolerance despite the fact that domestic terrorism and hate crimes have always taken place in America by white males motivated by perverse political agendas cloaked in Christianity.

Also Islam is not treated like other religions by France, as Finley falsely opined. In 2009, Maurice Sinet faced charges of “inciting racial hatred” and was fired from Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon that he drew which was insulting to Jewish people. To question the statistics or facts surrounding the Holocaust in France is done under the threat of criminal prosecution in France as well. As much as I am against anti-Semitic cartoons and Holocaust denial, I am also against hypocrisy. There should be a universal standard of civility and sensitivity applied to all, instead of the French model, in which it is socially repugnant and even illegal to mock certain people while it is acceptable to defame Islam and draw racist cartoons about Africans and Arabs.

Furthermore, the majority of victims of extremists since our misguided foray into Iraq have been Muslims. These victims also include Muslim journalists. The murders in France were tragic indeed, but the subtle implication or erasure in Finley’s commentary is that the lives of Westerners hold more value than others. For instance, in recent days a reported 2,000 persons, mainly Muslims, were killed in Northern Nigeria. This was Nigeria’s 9/11, yet I have not seen calls for solidarity with Nigeria and its Muslim victims.

Muslims in France are not compelled to assimilate to the dominant culture’s views, as American Muslims are not obligated by law to assimilate into the social construct of American whiteness. Muslims, however, must obey the laws of the lands which we reside in. Obeying laws means that we also have the right to peacefully protest against Islamophobia and racism, which we have and will continue to do.

To say that increasing insults toward French Muslims, who are a marginalized group and subjected to double standards, is the proper response to the Paris attack was simply irresponsible.

Dawud Walid, executive director, Council

on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan

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