Related to a previous post, here is an interesting and thought-provoking discussion with the editor and co-author of the 2008 book Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Gallup Press, 2008). Dalia Mogahed, co-author and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and editor Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013), speak with the host Ray Suarez and respond to a number of online and video questions from viewers.
I thought this discussion was a very good one. I think Dalia Mogahed and Reza Aslan did a very good job explaining the views of the majority of Muslims, particularly the ”Danish Cartoon incident.” I found Mogahed's comparison between these dramatic and violent riots which occurred across the Muslim world and race riots from the 1960's to be convincing. She argues that a particular race riot that caused several deaths and millions in damage was caused by a simple traffic stop. But it was not the traffic stop that caused the riots. She argues that there is a difference between the “trigger” and the “fuel.” In the case of the race riots, the “fuel” was the constant harassment and second-class status felt by many African Americans and the “trigger” which set off an explosion of anger and violence was a simple traffic stop by a white police officer of two African American teens. Similarly, the decades long invasions and support of brutal dictatorships by the US and Eastern countries was the “fuel” in this case, and mere cartoons was the “trigger” which caused all of the chaos.
I am, however, skeptical of her comparison between someone feeling offended by being called a racial epithet and Muslim's becoming enraged over an insult of Muhammad. She claims that both are examples of attacking someone's identity. But I don't see how a Muslim's belief that Muhammad is god's prophet is the same as someone's race. One is a belief about a person, the other is something intrinsic to them that is a part of them. Their argument about Muslims' feelings of powerlessness in the face of oppression seem more reasonable to me, though.
Regardless, I thought most of the author's and editor's explanations seemed reasonable on most other topics. I've recently bought their book, Who Speaks for Islam, and I'm looking forward to reading the entirety of their findings.