January 22, 2019

As L.A.’s Muslims condemn French attacks, a gap on what’s to blame

Following the recent terror attacks in Paris by Islamic extremists that left 17 dead and 22 wounded at a satirical magazine and kosher market, the debate within the local Muslim community over what to blame and even how to label the ideology behind the attacks has only intensified.

Are the attacks in France, along with the surge of violence and persecution in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, expressions of something called Islamism or Islamic extremism? Or are groups like Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), Al Qaeda and Boko Haram political extremist movements that are exploiting Islam to advance their un-Islamic goals?

Much as they are being discussed in Christian, Jewish and secular worlds, these questions are subjects of debate within the Los Angeles Muslim community, where progressive Muslims and more traditional Muslims coexist, even as they differ when it comes to pinpointing the root problem of terrorism done in the name of Islam.

For Ani Zonneveld, the founder and president of