DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was greeted on social media by Muslims around the world for their response to two white-nationalist mosque shootings that killed 50 worshipers. At the funerals she wore a headscarf in line with Islamic custom and rapidly reformed gun laws.
A picture of the prime minister hugging a grieving woman was projected onto the highest tower in the world in Dubai this weekend with the Arabic word for "peace".
For many Muslims, Ardern refers to the attack as an act of terrorism.
This is in contrast to numerous ideologically motivated mass shootings in North America by white, non-Muslim armed men called terrorist acts, say Muslim leaders and terrorism experts.
For too long, terrorist attacks have been portrayed as a clearly Muslim problem, with acts of violence labeled as "terrorists only if they apply to Muslims," said Abbas Barzegar of the Council for American Islamic Relations. He works on documenting and combating anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia.
"We have a problem in this country, where whenever a Muslim commits a violent act, the media start with terrorism and work backwards from there." added Colin Clarke, senior research associate at The Soufan Center, a think tank in New York.
It is the opposite, if the shooter is not Muslim and white, said Clarke, who has spent his career studying terrorism, especially Muslim extremism
The attacks on the New Zealand mosques on 1
The gunman in the New Zealand massacre called himself a White Nationalist and described President Donald Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity." 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder.
Trump expressed his sympathy for the victims, but downplayed the rise of white nationalism throughout the world, saying that despite the data, he did not see any great danger to him growing it.
The Anti-Defamation League found that right-wing extremism was associated with every extremist murder in the United States last year, killing at least 50 people. The group said that since the 1970s, nearly three out of four extremist motivated killings in the United States have been associated with domestic right-wing extremists and almost all others with Muslim extremists.
"It's really important that this attack is not the case as a crazy lonely wolf dismissed an isolated incident," said Dalia Mogahed, who directs research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, an organization that focuses on the Concentrated research of American Muslims.
"I think it has to be understood that way – a symptom of a broader problem, a transnational increasing threat of white supremist violence where anti-Muslim rhetoric is the oxygen for this movement," she said.
An ISPU study found that failed conspiracies involving Muslims were suspect In the name of Islam, the press received 770% more coverage than perpetrators acting in the name of white supremacy. Another study by Georgia State University found that Muslims had averaged 12.5 percent of attacks over 136 terrorist attacks in the US over a 10-year period, but received more than half of the coverage.
Mehdi Hasan, a commentator, television presenter, columnist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, said the public has been forced since the 9/11 attacks to "accuse terrorists" of having large beards, tan skin and loud voices see who scream in Arabic. "
"I do not think anybody can dispute that the entire war on terrorism has been a threat to this idea of Muslims, as 'the other' is by nature violent," Hasan said.
In addition, if he does not know Muslim Hasan are violent offenders, often attempts are made to examine their mental health or their childhood in a way that is not always offered to others, Hasan said.
Some of the best-known attacks by white assailants with racist or extremist views – Pittsburgh Synagogue shootings, which killed 11 people in October, and the church that killed nine black worshipers in Charleston in 2015 were not labeled as terrorists and the attackers were not brought to justice as terrorists. The shooting of a white assailant in a mosque in Quebec, Canada, in 2017, which killed six Muslims, was unmitigated.
Terrorism expert Clarke said he has been told three times about jihadist terrorism on Capitol Hill over the past two years. "Where are the hearings on right-wing violence?" asked he.
Meanwhile, the confessional, cultural, and ideological differences between Muslims around the world are making it harder to consistently push aside negative stereotypes – including the perception of some that Islam endorses or promotes violence.
Such prejudices have been exacerbated by the multiple attacks of Islamic extremists in European capitals and years of conflict in which Sunni and Shiite Muslims seem to play off against each other. In the Middle East, victims of extremist violence have often been targeted by groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda because they do not share their hard ideologies.
The Islamic State group that promoted an extremist version of Sunni Islam terrorized millions of people during a five-year reign in parts of Syria and Iraq that ended on Saturday, with the loss of their self-proclaimed caliphate's last landlord.
Some leaders of the majority of Muslim countries have been accused of exploiting the debate.
During the week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hotly debated as he politicized New Zealand's attacks to set Islamist followers on fire during a pre-municipal election campaign. The attacker had broadcasted the shootings live on social media and Erdogan showed clips of the attack – despite New Zealand's efforts to prevent the spread of the video.
Mogahed, co-author of a book entitled "Who Speaks for Islam: What Really Think a Billion Muslims" based on interviews with tens of thousands of Muslims around the world, said it was important to ask whether someone would have to speak for Islam, especially if other groups of people would have given the presumption of innocence if terrible acts were committed in their country.
Some Muslim community leaders, such as Dawud Walid, an Imam in Detroit, said they are worried that Muslims are condemning extremists who were perpetrated in the name of Islam. This suggests that Muslims share a kind of collective responsibility for the actions of extremists.
Hasan says that "the idea that terrorism is a Muslim problem is subliminally affirmed."
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