Ahmed Tharwat’s commentary contains some truth, but it represents a simplistic view of a complex issue.

Yes, we Muslims are expected to take a stand on the actions of extremists around the globe, as I would expect that the Israeli government must assume some stance regarding the sometimes-violent actions of Orthodox militants in Israel.

Tharwat shirks our responsibility as Muslims to confront this new threat posed by Muslim extremists to the Western world, indeed to everyone, including us. Even now, Somalia, the country of my birth, is torn apart by a radical group affiliated with Al-Qaida that engages in mass killings of innocent people almost every day.

The sooner we Muslims come to terms with this threat wrapped up in Muslim identity and deny them the religious justification for these barbaric acts, the better off everyone will be.

This is our war. Our identity is on the line here — misinterpreted to rationalize the slaughter of innocent people, most recently in Paris.

The perpetrators of Columbine were not wearing the cross and screaming “Jesus” when murdering innocent people; their acts were not linked to Christian dogma. Yet every other act committed by terror groups seems to be linked to our faith. Yes, there is a long-standing, legitimate grievance in the Muslim world concerning Western intrusion in its affairs. However, this injustice in no way justifies the killing of innocent people.

Tharwat insinuates that this act of terror in Paris is much bigger than a cartoon depicting our prophet, but it is rather about the support rendered by the West to monarchies and dictators in Muslim world. It might sound reasonable, but this narrative is often exploited by the radicals to draw the people into their twisted agenda.

We Muslims can get rid of radicals and at the same time deal with our internal political issues without suicide bombers and the slaughter of innocent people in the name of our religion.

Yes, there have been missteps in the war on terror by the U.S. government, from which we are victims. But I will never give up the hopes of good people around the world. I appeal to all Muslims, Christians and Jews to not let a small group of radicals tear the world apart.


Omar Jamal is a Somali community activist in St. Paul and former executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center..