Green River Star -

Our View: We should not fear Islam

 


We have to take a stand against statements designed to make us a fearful and paranoid electorate.

Such are the statements made by Republican congressional hopeful Darin Smith, who claims 10 percent of all Muslims are “radicalized.” Smith works for the Christian Broadcasting Network and helps plan and conduct humanitarian projects throughout the world. Humanitarian work should always be commended, though Smith readily admits that his work helps combat Saudi Arabia and “big mosque” money he believes are aimed at spreading Islamic beliefs and Sharia Law.

His claim that 10 percent of those following the Islamic faith are radicalized is based on comments previously stated by conservative pundits like Glenn Beck and Ben Shapiro. Beck first started using his 10 percent figure in 2003, saying 10 percent of Muslims are terrorists. Some basic math makes the claim a bit unbelievable itself. As of 2010, 1.6 billion people were recorded as followers of Islam, 10 percent of which makes 160 million people. If 160 million people were terrorists, they would be utilizing more sophisticated attacks, using more than a few people to carry out. The world would have a huge problem on its hands.

Shapiro’s figures claim the number of radicals is much higher, using broad interpretations of statistics from the Pew Research Center. His number, which totals more than 800 million people, comes from claims that a radical Muslim is one who supports Sharia Law.

Sharia Law is a set of laws that govern aspects of public and private life in legal systems based on Islam. According to Politifact.com, experts they contacted while researching Shapiro’s claims were quick to say Muslims’ opinions on what Sharia Law is and how they want it implemented differ. James Bell, director of International Survey Research at Pew, told Politifact many Muslims would support the use of religious judges in deciding disputes involving property or family issues, but support for other aspects of Sharia Law such as use of corporal punishment for criminals or a death sentence for those renouncing their faith drops significantly.

Like any other population, the views Muslims have are more nuanced than the black-and-white interpretations people like Beck and Shapiro would have us believe. Admittedly the residents of Green River, like those living in other small towns across Wyoming, don’t have a lot of experience regarding the Islamic faith. However, our ignorance is no reason to believe someone who tells us an Islamic boogyman is coming to get us.

 

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