Ellen Inggrid Dengah–Staff Writer
I remember my brother’s 9th birthday better than any of his other birthdays. It’s not because of how especially annoying he was on that day, but because it fell on Dec. 26, the day of the 2002 Bali Bombing. My family was travelling while TVs were airing news about the devastating Muslim extremist suicide bomb attack that killed over 200 people.
I am not going to claim that I understand how Americans feel about Muslim extremists, so I’m only speaking of what I know.
I know if my Christian identity is ever associated with terror, I would want my friends to speak out for me, to bear witness of who I truly am. Matthew 7:12 states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” .Yes, I am defending a group of people whose extremist member just bombed a London Subway last Friday Sept 15th. Because to do otherwise–despite my expectancy of what others should do to me—would be hypocrisy.
Still, by no means am I justifying what the bomber did last Friday as I write this. What he did was awful. Terror holds us captive in our own homes, and my heart goes out to London where people are trying their best not to give in to fear. My heart also goes out to Syria and Myanmar, not as an immediate repercussion of what happened in London, but in retrospect of the Muslim terrorist image that allows the powers of the world to turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing and the refugee crisis.
I have to state the obvious because some people might misinterpret “defending Muslims from harmful public opinion” as “defending Muslim extremists from being served justice.” I find it has been helpful if Americans draw a parallel between local Christian’s religious extremists such as KKK and the Muslim extremists. Although this parallel is a pathetic analogy that is insufficient of capturing the vastly different sociopolitical situations surrounding the two terrorist groups, it is enough to distinguish the extremists from moderate men of faith.
I would deem it ridiculous if my chances of making a living were ever threatened by the general associations people make about me being under the same name of “Christian” as some of the racist, extremist KKK. But this is exactly what happens with any Muslims whose rights and livelihood are ever denied because of an ill-informed generalization of who they are.
So here I am, showing my roommate an Instagram story of my high school friend—a Christian—whose bridesmaid is a Muslim wearing hijab. Here I am, trying to normalize Muslims, wanting so badly for people around here to know that they are not all extremist. Just like not all Buddhists are hippie peace lovers—because some of them have allowed a group of Muslim minorities to be killed systematically. And to be honest, not all Christians, including myself, always act out of the love of God and love their neighbor as themselves. I just think it’s time to get past ideological differences and see each other as human beings. All profoundly fallen and needing to receive grace—Muslims and Hindus and Christians alike.