How an Offhanded Comment in a Classroom Spawned a Website in Defense of Islam

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Tweet by Heraa Hashmi
Tweet by Heraa HashmiCredit: Screenshot from Twitter

When Heraa Hashmi, a Muslim student at the University of Colorado, encountered anti-Muslim prejudice from a fellow student, she found a novel but not so simple way of countering it.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” the man sitting next to her in class declared, adding that Muslims are not taking a strong enough stand against it, according to The Guardian's Race Matters columnist Arwa Mahdawi. That prompted Hashmi to compile a list extending over no fewer than 712 pages of Muslim condemnations, Mahdawi wrote in a column on Sunday.

In November, when Hashmi, the Muslim Colorado student, tweeted the list, it was retweeted 15,000 times within 24 hours, Mahdawi wrote. And within a week, it gave birth to a new website,, presenting Muslim condemnation of "wrongdoings done falsely in the name of Islam."

For her part, Mahdawi, the columnist, said Christians are not expected to condemn the extremism of fellow-Christians and it should be no different for Muslims.

"You can see that double standard at play in the aftermath of the London attacks," she wrote in her Race Matters column, in reference to last week's car ramming and stabbing attack near the British parliament, allegedly committed by Khalid Masood, a British-born convert to Islam.

Mahdawi noted that Masood was born Adrian Elms in the southern English county of Kent and was believed to have converted to Islam in prison. "Have we heard Kent natives condemn the actions of the people born in their county?" Mahdawi asked.

But in a different and perhaps controversial take on the issue, Adam Deen, the managing director of the London-based think tank Quilliam, which describes itself a counter-extremism organization, pointed to converts to Islam as being particularly vulnerable to extremism.

"Though it is vital to reiterate that for the vast majority of converts to Islam the motives are rarely political... Converts often know very little about Islam when they first decide to switch over, [and] they are susceptible to brainwashing and propaganda, making them ideal targets for recruiters," Dean wrote in an opinion column on the London-based Independent news site.

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