LETTER TO THE EDITOR, 6 August 2016
In his vitriolic anti-Muslim letter published in this column on 27 July 2016, “Millions of Muslims back Islamic State”, Mr. Peter Forsythe accuses me of intellectual dishonesty and yet grossly misrepresented a Pew Research poll misleadingly stating, “63 million Muslims support ISIS”.
The poll available online published in November 17 2015 actually found that Muslim views of ISIS are “overwhelmingly negative across the Muslim world” or the exact opposite of what he deceivingly claimed, stigmatizing a lot of Muslims as extremists while becoming an accomplice of hate and terrorism.
Incidentally Fox News personality and anti-Muslim demagogue Sean Hannity made the same claim citing the same “63 million Muslims” number when this poll was published and was roundly condemned by Media Matters for America for spreading misinformation. Donald Trump too, made a similar claim in a CNN interview on March 9 and not for the first time mocked for his ignorance. SCMP too, published an open-Ed by Niall Ferguson on 2 April 2016 “Brussels bombings make clear terrorist networks cannot be defeated in isolation” in which he too, erroneously cited the same number within the article, adding fuel to fire the misinformation about Islam and Muslims, spreading like wildfire today, thanks in large part to irresponsible reporting and near absent fact-checking by the press.
Just as equally shocking, Mr. Forsythe asserts terrorist barbarities are not linked to foreign policy failures but astoundingly fails to see how the illegal Iraq invasion, war in Afghanistan and Libya, blanket support of hideous allies in the Middle East, the betrayal of Palestine, the complicity in extrajudicial killings and torture and ongoing deep prejudices, kick-started by neo-con opportunists well before 9/11 have made the world inflammable and unsafe today, a fact widely acknowledged by renowned intellectuals the world over such as Noam Chomsky.
In the end however, the false narratives by people like Mr. Forsythe, are not only immoral but also provide ammunition to the terrorists. Worse still, they make us all targets by playing directly into the hands of the propaganda that aims to divide and destroy us.
Instead, it may be worth trying to marginalise this threat now not by framing religion as a threat but as a tool to end terrorism by battling against the incessant culture of falsification and witch-hunt against Islam and ordinary Muslims today, something misinformation, drones and Islamophobia has only made worse.