“If you are painting 1.5 billion people with the same brush of violence and extremism [as al Qaeda], you’re a bigot,” said Reza Aslan, in one of his passionate television appearances discussing the American impressions of al Qaeda, which are frequently transferred onto the Muslim community as a whole.
A popular commentator on a heated controversy in New York – he says that the issue should not be spoken of as “a proposed mosque at ground zero” but rather an “Islamic cultural center (much like the Jewish cultural centers we see across the country) a few blocks away from ground zero” – Aslan aims to expose an unknown side of the Muslim world to the American people.
His intention to reveal the diversity of the Muslim population is apparent in his commentary, including one of his recent columns on The Daily Beast titled “Why Obama Can Be Proud of Indonesia”:
At a time when most Americans believe that Islamic values and democratic ideals cannot be reconciled, Indonesia has proved otherwise. Home to nearly 15 percent of all Muslims on earth, as many Muslims as there are in the entire Arab world, Indonesia is not only the richest, most stable, and most populous county in the Muslim world. It is the Muslim world. While Muslims in the Middle East are still fighting each other over whose vision of Islam will rule them all, Muslims in Indonesia have almost effortlessly fused their Islamic identity with the requirements of a modern constitutional state.”
Aslan is a scholar of religions and a contributing editor at online news site The Daily Beast. He will be speaking Monday, November 29 at the Club office in San Francisco. The Inforum program will begin at 6:30 p.m.