There’s a certain ritual that each and every one of the world’s billion-plus Muslims, especially those living in Western countries, is expected to go through immediately following any incident of violence involving a Muslim perpetrator. It’s a ritual that is we went through with the Sydney hostage crisis in December, in which a deranged self-styled sheikh took several people hostage in a downtown café, and that is continuing now with the terrorist massacre at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: “As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form.”
This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion.