‘Islamic terrorists’ are thugs, not theologians


There have been several recent examples cited as evidence that Islam has a violent belief system and that Muslims, therefore, are a scourge that need eradication. Many saw the killing of three innocent Israeli teens through this filter of a violent Islam.

Iraq is allegedly in the midst of centuries-old violence involving Sunni and Shia Muslims, which has been described as a clash of religions. However, if we follow the idea that the faith of the perpetrators is the problem then we will be looking in the wrong place for a solution. In reality, these are examples not of faith teachings being the source of conflict but instead being the tool for criminal acts and political actors using faith to excuse illegal activity or galvanize the masses.

The narrative that religious teachings are the problem distracts us from the more obvious societal ills such as lack of education, employment, security, resources and hope.

Look closely at Boko Haram. The belief that Boko Haram of Nigeria is an Islamic terrorist organization has tainted what is otherwise a much-needed awakening about human-rights violations occurring every day in many parts of the world. Instead of focusing on the massive criminal enterprises that purvey humans and weapons almost without consequence in Nigeria and many other countries, we misplace focus on going after a religion and using the term “Islamic terrorism.” This distracts us from ever solving the real issues at play.

The International Organization for Migration estimates global human trafficking at between a $7 billion and $12 billion industry. This makes the slave trade third behind drugs and weapons. Instead of some pretend religious motivation, is it not more likely that Boko Haram’s motivation is money? Its demand shortly after taking more 200 innocent children was to release their comrades held by the Nigerian government. This included an infamous arms dealer known as “the Human Butcher” who was arrested just a few weeks before this set of kidnappings. The Butcher possessed grenades and AK-47s. This is what we should be discussing and trying to solve. Weapons and human trafficking are lucrative industries for thugs. Boko Haram are thugs, not theologians.

Boko Haram’s leader cannot Cite to any religious reason to kidnap children and forcibly convert them to Islam. In fact, the Islamic holy book, the Quran, states the opposite — that there is no compulsion to believe in God. Everyone who cites religious motivation for criminal conduct is quickly denounced by those of that religious ideology as not speaking for the religion.

Christians, Jews, Hindus and others have all committed criminal acts and cited their faith as a catalyst. It is not the religious doctrine that truly drives them; it is either some other agenda or being misguided about their own faith. This is no different in the case of Muslims.

Muslim organizations in America have issued statements condemning the acts of Boko Haram as criminal, the killings of innocent children in Israel as disgusting and the violence by both Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq as not in line with Islamic theology.

There is opportunity in today’s world of technology and resources to address real problems. However instead of being able to come together and solve an immediate crisis and place a spotlight on the real issue, instead of recognizing thugs want to make money and don’t care how they do it, we are calling thugs “Islamic terrorists” as if they are driven by some well-thought-out theological position.

If you want to hear Muslims denouncing criminal acts in the name of Islam, just listen to them. By focusing our efforts and debate on solutions to poverty, illiteracy and basic human rights we can do more together than separately.

Khurrum Wahid is a Miami-based criminal-defense attorney and co-chair of Emerge USA, a national civic engagement and youth leadership development non profit founded in South Florida.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

Tony Lesesne


    Tony Lesesne: Overkill, and an apology

    Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.

Delrish Moss


    Delrish Moss: Out after dark

    “I was walking up Seventh Avenue, just shy of 14th street. I was about 17 and going home from my job. I worked at Biscayne Federal Bank after school. The bank had a kitchen, and I washed the dishes. A police officer gets out of his car. He didn’t say anything. He came up and pushed me against a wall, frisked me, then asked what I was doing walking over here after dark. Then he got into his car and left. I never got a chance to respond. I remember standing there feeling like my dignity had been taken with no explanation. I would have felt better about that incident had I gotten some sort of dialogue. I had not had any encounters with police.


    Bill Diggs: Hurt officer’s feelings

    “I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, and if I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to make my mom happy. I was living for my parents, I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to go to work and not have to put on steel-toe boots. And here I am in Atlanta, I have finally grown to a particular level of affluence. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was a college kid, wearing a suit, driving a nice BMW going to work everyday. Can’t beat that. I would leave my house, drive up Highway 78, the Stone Mountain area, grab some coffee, go to work. So on this particular morning, there’s a cop who’s rustling up this homeless guy outside the gas station where I was filling up. I’m shaking my head, the cop looks at me. This homeless guy is there every morning. I get in my car and on to the expressway. The police officer comes shooting up behind me. I doing 65, 70. He gets up behind me, I notice he’s following me. I get in one lane, he gets in the lane, I get in another lane, he gets in that lane. He finally flips his lights on, he comes up to the car. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before, I know the drill. Got my hands up here, don’t want to get shot, and I think he’s going to say what I’ve heard before: ‘License and registration, please.’ He says ‘Get out of the car!’ and he reaches in and grabs me by my shirt. He says, ‘So you’re a smart ass, huh?’ Finally he says, ‘License and registration.’ I tell him it’s in the car. He says, ‘Get it for me!’ He goes back to his car, comes back and asks, ‘So where did you get the car from?’ I say ‘It’s a friend of mine’s.” He says, ‘Is it stolen? What are you doing driving your friend’s car?’ I finally asked, ‘Is there a reason you stopped me? You followed me, what’s up, man?’ He says, ‘I’m going to let you go with a warning, but if you see me doing what I’ve got to do for my job, don’t you ever f---ing worry about it.”

Miami Herald

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