In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the Pacifica Institute, Portland organized a panel discussion among scholars and prominent Muslim leaders from the Northwest on 19th January, 2016. The event was convened at Portland State University and aimed to light a fruitful discussion from Muslims as being one voice against the extremism.
The panel was moderated by Professor Samuel Henry from School of Education at the Portland State University. Panelists were:
- Abdullah Polovina: Imam at the Bosniak Educational and Cultural Organization
- Salma Ahmad: President of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland
- Abdul’Hadeedh bin Abdullah: Assistant Imam at the Muslim Community Center of Portland
- Etga Ugur: Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington – Tacoma, who studies religion and politics in the Middle East
- Mohamed Jawad Khaki: President Emeritus of the Ithna-asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest, Kirkland, Washington
Panelists addressed different questions from the large audience that attended the event. In summary, panelists answered questions around the root causes of extremism, what can be done to prevent and discourage from extremist thoughts and lastly what everyone (muslims as well as non-muslims) should do. Panelists stated that sociological, psychologic and economic factors might contribute more than religious ones. Bosniak Imam Polovina said extremists use religion for their criminal purpose and take words from scriptures out of context to justify their actions. Assistant Professor Ugur stated that extremists like ISIS are sophisticated recruiters and easily spend hundreds of hours on one individual. As a result, isolated youngsters, ones with family issues or such fall victim to their nets. Professor Ugur also emphasied social, art, literature and tolerance to other thoughts and beliefs should be taught next to religious education. He added that coaching and peer mentorship should also be important part of their education. Salma Ahmad of Islamic Society of Greater Portland said community should be more active in rallying against the extremism. She added Fethullah Gulen’s teachings are very good remedies in preventing extremism.