Monday, July 18, 2005

Whose problem?

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I read today an article by Thomas L. Friedman from the New York Times where he comments on the London bombings. The headline of his column is If It´s A Muslim Problem, It Needs A Muslim Solution.

I don´t know what to think of the text. He is concerned - and rightly so - of the risk of blaming the entire Muslim population for the attacks and by doing that growing the division to us and them. But at the same time he is calling for Muslim leaders to condemn the bombings more strongly. Friedman states: "Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village."

But which village? The London bombers were British citizens, people who would normally seem like well integrated members of the British society. Is it right to hold the leaders of the Muslim world responsible for this?

I am also slightly worried of the often seen mixup between words Muslim and Arab. They´re often used as synonyms although that is definitely not accurate. In the Dutch integration debate some non-Muslim Arabs who live in the Netherlands have found themselves from an awkward position when they´ve been asked to act as a voice for the Muslim community.

As the Dutch author Geert Mak rightly states in his pamphlet Gedoemd tot kwetsbaarheid (Doomed to vulnerability), we should know more about each other:

"On no account does this mean there can be no internal differences. The point is that people know enough about each other to negotiate, to find a way to work together, to reach a compromise."

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