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Reza Aslan mocks Islamophobia at EPL speaker series

If you didnt manage to get tickets to Reza Aslans speech at the Chateau Lacombe Hotel last Wednesday, then you missed what felt like a perfect cross between a university lecture and a stand-up comedy routine.

Edmonton Public Library hosted Aslan as part of their Forward Thinking Speaker Series, which will feature other public intellectuals like Timothy Beatley and Sir Salman Rushdie. There was no lack of enthusiasm at the event, as Chateau Lacombe’s ballroom was packed with people eager to see Aslan in person.

Amongst those who manage to pay attention to the disparaging follies of U.S. cable news channels like Fox or CNN, Aslan is a favourite guest commentator. His fans treasure his ability to be both articulate and funny, encapsulated in moments such as his appearance on Fox News where he defended himself against the interviewers Islamophobia in which all her questions were a variation ofwhy is a Muslim writing a book about Jesus?

As well  his multiple appearances on Bill Mahers show, where Aslan outmaneuvers Mahers overly obstinate and borderline bigoted atheism. For his fans, Aslan is one of the leading public intellectuals in the fight against the irrational fear of Islam which seems to have taken off following 9/11.

Aslan’s humour immediately sets him apart from other pundits. Right away, he joked that he was in Edmonton looking for real estate in preparation of Donald Trumps presidency and he truthfully claimed that he used to live in Vulcan Alberta, not the planet. He mocked how religion is often the focal point of pundits when discussing the latest terrorist attack, joking that the media portrays terrorism as if it were the side effects of “sudden jihad syndrome” where someone reads the Qur’an and yells “jihad!”

Part of his message was that even though we shouldnt ignore the role of religion in religious violence, we also shouldnt make it the dominant point of discussion and obsess over it to the point where we associate terrorism with a particular faith.

Aslan also touched on the medias hypocrisy: only violent acts committed by Muslims can be labeled “terrorism,” whereas other violent acts committed by non-Muslims are merely deemed shootings. He referenced Dylann Roof, a 22-year-old white supremacist who shot nine African-Americans, and Wade Michael Page, who attacked a Sikh temple and killed seven people, including himself. Because of this, the word terrorism is a largely meaningless phrase that speaks more about whoever uses it.

The way he sees it, the media is a consumer enterprise that perpetuates a correlation of Islam with terrorism, covering terrorism in a way that meets viewersdemands. In other words, fear sells. I asked the question of whether or not the media could be a force for social change, to which he answered yes but through pop culture and not news media.

In a country that tends to pretend Islamophobia doesnt exist, this discussion should be encouraged. Aslans speech exemplified this, and he insightfully prompted this necessary conversation.

2 Comments

  1. The term “Islamophobia” was created by the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that promotes violence in furtherance of Islam. It was designed to stop dead in its tracks (pun intended) any discussion of Islamic violence and its source the “holy” Islamic texts. Fear of Islam is perfectly rational because Islam calls for jihad, the deaths of of all kafirs. Jihad, of course, is holy war. The truly religious aspects of Islam are of no interest to non-Muslims; it is political Islam that is the threat, i.e. the aspect of Islam that deals with non-believers. The use of the term “terrorism” to describe jihad is misleading and inaccurate. Resa Azlan is an expert at taqiyya, Islamic lying for the faith. We are in a war declared 1400 years ago by Mo and his followers, but few want to face it. No one can win a war when they don’t know the enemy, and refuse to face facts.

  2. Islam exists – along with its lies, blasphemies against Jesus Christ and its assorted terror-castings – 9/11 being the signature event – but so much easier to focus on ‘islamophobia’ and pretend that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by ‘misunderstanders’ and ‘extremists’.

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