maher arar: muslims have nothing to apologize for

Maher Arar writing in the Ottawa Citizen:
Since the events of 9/11, imams and prominent members of the Muslim community have increasingly felt compelled to apologize for and condemn the acts of some Muslims who are arrested under anti-terrorism laws. They have usually done so even before finding out all the facts about the cases in question, and have mostly relied upon early information which, at best, has been selectively filtered by the security apparatus, or at worst, maliciously leaked to the media by "unknown sources." I see two clear problems with this apologetic reaction.

First, these apologies imply that the arrested individuals are guilty, not just before a fair trial, but before any clear details of the case are released, exchanging the presumption of innocence for the attitudes of a lynch mob.

Secondly, even if you were to accept guilt without a trial, what message is being sent by Muslims apologizing for such a terrible crime? Do Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, or Buddhists apologize for the actions of adherents who are alleged to have committed serious crimes? An apology suggests that there is fault to be found simply in being Muslim, when in fact, Muslims are no different than any other people: Muslims value the same peace and security, and have the same worries about the safety and well-being of their families.

So what is the motivation for these apologies? In a word: fear. Not just the broad fear that all Canadians feel when terrorism occurs, but the specific fear that affects just Muslims, the fear of being held personally responsible for the actions of others, due to a shared religious identity.

. . .

Another example that comes to mind is the coverage of the many priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of children. Despite the fact that these accusations are widespread, do we see terms such as "Catholic pedophilia" or "Christian pedophilia" used in the media to describe this crime? Of course to do so would be outrageous, since Christianity does not condone this heinous act. But time and time again, Muslims are compelled to immediately condemn any fellow Muslim who is accused of terrorism or security-related crime, in what seems to be a desperate, and perhaps even frightened, attempt to avoid being painted with the same brush. . . .

Read it here.

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