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Leading Muslim cleric says Islamophobia a result of Islamic extremism and not racism


3 April 2019

The senior member of the world’s biggest Muslim organisation has insisted that Islamophobia is not rooted in racism and that the distrust of Muslims in many countries is a result of Islamist extremism and terrorism throughout the world.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary-general of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which claims to have more than 90 million adherents, wrote in an article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph saying that the traditional Muslim mindset needed to change.

He called for a rejection of Islamic orthodoxy, condemning it as “obsolete and problematic” and “fuelling violence on both sides”.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary-general of the world’s largest Muslim movement, believes Islamic extremism based on “obsolete” religious orthodoxy is fuelling Islamophobia
Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary-general of the world’s largest Muslim movement, believes Islamic extremism based on “obsolete” religious orthodoxy is fuelling Islamophobia

The influential cleric wrote that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims was “factually incorrect” in linking the definition of the word “Islamophobia” to racism, and that it was “counter-productive” to do so.

“The truth, we recognise, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of sharia that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict,” he wrote.

Staquf stated that Brenton Tarrant’s murder spree, which killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March, was part of an “ancient cycle of violence” and that the killer shared a “historical framework” with many Muslims that went back almost 1,400 years. He explained the traditional Islamic teaching that Muslims and non-Muslims are and shall remain in a state of permanent conflict, until the end of time (according to Islamists) or the disappearance of Islam (according to advocates of a ‘counter-jihad’).”

“If Muslims do not address the key tenets of Islamic tradition that encourage this violence, anyone – at any time – can harness them to defy what they claim to be illegitimate laws and butcher their fellow citizens, whether they live in the Islamic world or the West. This is what links so many current events, from Syria to the streets of London,” he added.