It takes courage to stand up publicly to radical Islam, even if you’re Muslim. Maybe especially if you’re Muslim.
Ask Asra Nomani. On Friday she and a dozen of her fellow Muslims went to the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., and posted a declaration on the door denouncing violent jihad, rejecting Islamic statism and opposing the “ideology of violent Islamic extremism.”
The declaration announced the formation of the Muslim Reform Movement, an international organization aimed at countering the beliefs of Middle East terrorist groups like Islamic State in what the document describes as a “battle for the soul of Islam.”
Was Ms. Nomani nervous? No doubt. But the recent bloodshed in Paris and San Bernardino, California, spurred by radical Islam has convinced her the Muslim community needs to confront frankly the connection between terrorism and religion, not deny that it exists.
“Ultimately, the reason why we, as Muslims, stood on Friday and went to the mosque and took the risks on our own lives, is because we’ve had enough,” Ms. Nomani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think the world has had enough.”
Her message comes with others scrambling to place the post-San Bernardino focus on anything but radical Islam. The Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference Friday to denounce “rising Islamophobia in America” and called for a hate crimes investigation into a threat against a Virginia mosque.
The press conference also took a shot at Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson, accusing them of fueling an “unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide” through their “inaccurate and inflammatory statements.”
Hussam Ayloush, Los Angeles chapter executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, condemned the San Bernardino attack — carried out by a Muslim couple — but also said Americans themselves share some of the blame for terrorist violence.
“[W]e complain and say, ‘What are the Muslim people doing to root out terrorism and extremism?’ Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, has fueled that extremism,” Mr. Ayloush said in an interview Friday with CNN.
The FBI is investigating the massacre, which left 14 dead and 21 injured, as an act of terrorism. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack, but Mr. Ayloush refused to blame Islamic extremism, saying that, “Terrorism is a global problem, not a Muslim problem.”