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Attacks on U.S. Sites Again Tarnish Image of Muslims, Experts Say

Attacks on U.S. Sites Again Tarnish Image of Muslims, Experts Say

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Editor's Note: Duke provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. We are also equipped with ISDN connectivity for radio interviews. Broadcast reporters should contact Scott Wells at (919) 660-1741 or James Todd at (919) 681-8061 to arrange an interview.

Duke University experts on Islam and national security are available to comment on violence against U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt.

Ebrahim Moosa
Professor of religion and Islamic studies, Duke University

Moosa specializes in law, moral philosophy, ethics and critical Islamic thought. 

"The orchestrators of the violent protests in Cairo and Benghazi have viciously exploited the religious sensitivities of unsuspecting Muslims and rallied mobs to their cause. Their reprehensible demagoguery in using a film trailer designed to inflame Muslim religious sensitivities with the resultant loss of life has once again tarnished the image of Islam and Muslims. 

"This is no coincidence, and I suspect the work of the public relations units of sophisticated terrorist groups who have been spoiling for a fight. The provocative movie trailer became a pretext for them to further cultural strife between Islamic societies and the West, by deluding innocent Muslims into theological warfare. It might be time that religious leaders in the Muslim world desist from playing the blasphemy card if they do not wish to hand a victory to provocateurs who are hell-bent on destabilizing their societies. 

"The senseless deaths of the U.S. ambassador and embassy staff might endanger Muslims living in the West, especially in the U.S., since some hate groups could retaliate against Muslims here."  

David Schanzer Associate professor of the practice 
Sanford School of Public Policy  

Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, specializes in homeland security, civil liberties and strategies for combatting terrorism. 

"Incidents like these demonstrate the chasm between militants in the Muslim world and anti-Islamic fundamentalists here at home. Pastor Terry Jones and the sponsors of this repugnant film reject the legitimacy of Islam and refuse to distinguish between radical extremists and a religion followed by 1.2 billion people around the globe.  

"The extremists also equate the acts of a few Americans with the country as a whole, lashing out in unacceptable violence against us. Leaders in the U.S. and the Middle East face enormous challenges to ensure that the center holds firm, especially in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, where Islamist parties have gained power and the Islamic identity of the governments in power is increasing.   

"Both sides must ensure that the long-term interests dictate our tone, rhetoric and actions –- not anger -- even though anger over the outrageous violence in Libya is absolutely justified, and Muslims have every right to be offended by the inflammatory and insulting film." 

Abdeslam Maghraoui 
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Political Science, Duke University

Maghraoui specializes in political identity, political culture, and Islam and politics, with a focus on North Africa and the Middle East.  

"The killing of the U.S. envoy in Libya following the armed mob attack is a worrisome and tragic development. It is part of the unmistakable, rising influence of the Salafis, which are extremist religious groups in several countries in the region. 

"Recently, we have seen attacks on shrines and mosques in Libya and sub-Saharan Africa of Suffi, a more tolerant branch of Islam. In Tunisia, Salafis have attacked secular artists, writers and women for undermining Islam. In Egypt, the Salafi Nour Party, which advocates a very conservative interpretation of Islam, has won an astonishing 25 percent of the vote.  

"Notwithstanding the particular circumstances of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Cairo and Benghazi, these incidents are part of a wider and troubling ideological trend."

More Information

Contact: Steve Hartsoe
Affiliation: Office of News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-4515

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More Information

Contact: Steve Hartsoe
Affiliation: Office of News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-4515