By Ahmed Sahi
May 06 2014
How should I condemn thee? Let me count the ways.
Boko Haram’s rampage of indiscriminate violence and tyranny has been going on for over three years now in Nigeria, but the organization has never grabbed international headlines quite like this before. They’ve bombed churches, killed innocents and done just about everything else in their mad pursuit to establish “Sharia Law,” but the recent kidnapping and potential sale and enslavement of around 200 to 300 schoolgirls has really reverberated across the world.
Naturally, as a common observer, I am saddened. It’s heart-rending to think of those families whose innocent daughters are caught in this sick web of fanaticism, let alone the girls themselves.
But as a devout Ahmadi Muslim, I’m more than sad. I’m shocked. I’m upset. I’m frustrated.
It’s frustrating because here you have this massive group of about 1.8 billion Muslims on earth today, and a handful of twisted extremists have hijacked the whole faith, steering the public discourse on Islam. Every inhumane and ghastly crime they perpetrate leaves a mark on the face of Islam, spread across the international stage in global headlines for all to see. “Boko Haram — Islamic Militants.” That’s how they’re described and viewed. The “militant” part is true. The “Islamic” part? Not so much.
It reminds me of an interesting conversation I had with an RCMP officer last year, just before the prime minister officially announced the highly controversial Office of Religious Freedom, a ceremony I attended in person.
Waiting for the PM, I started talking to one of the RCMP officers assigned to the PM’s security detail. Around that time last year, the RCMP had come under fire for corruption, so I asked him flat out: “What’s going on with the RCMP? Whatever happened to the noble ideal of the legendary Sam Steele? All we hear about now is corruption and scandal. What’s that all about?”
He replied succinctly: “Look, you know how many RCMP officers there are in Canada? Almost 70,000. All of them do their job day in and day out with honour, integrity and courage, but when one rotten apple does something stupid, the whole RCMP gets a bad rap. It’s like what Muslims go through; a few bad guys spoil it for everybody.”
It was a funny parallel, but one that aptly illustrates how Muslims have come to be so misrepresented and perceived so wrongly.
Ahmed Sahi is a GTA-based journalist. He also serves as chairman and chief editor of Muslim Writers of Canada, the largest Muslim writer’s guild in the country.