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A Muslim group in Columbus, Ohio ran a newspaper ad on Sunday in an effort to get the visibility the local media wasn’t offering them.

After members of the Turkish American Society of Ohio heard criticism that peaceful Muslims weren’t doing enough to condemn acts of violence committed in the name of their faith, the group took a creative approach to making their stance clear: They purchased a sizable block of space in the Columbus Dispatch voicing their dissent.


Dear Columbus

We are a group of Turkish Americans who happen to be Muslims. In the strongest terms, we condemn all acts of violence in the name of any religion and Islam in particular. We deplore the heinous crimes that have been commited in the name of our religion. The people who commit these crimes have an agenda that is alien to our understanding and practice of Islam, it is unrecognizable to us. A Muslim can not be a terrorist, a terrorist can not be a Muslim. We hear the constant refrain of criticism that the Muslim community is not standing strongly enough against terrorism in the name of our religion. The reality is that we do speak up and we do act but we are not heard. We hope that some will see this announcement / press release as we work diligently in our own community to build bridges and educate our children with beauty.

Turkish American Society of OH. Columbus

I reached out to Onder Secen, a spokesperson for TASO, to find out what prompted them to run the ad.

In general our friends would comment that they were not hearing Muslims condemning violence loudly. Partially because of that and partially we have a firm stand against violence and the fact that none of our press releases received any media coverage, we had to pay for our statement to be published in the newspaper.

While being fully supportive of TASO’s efforts to publicly denounce the deplorable acts associated with their religion, the only thing that doesn’t sit right for me is the line, “A Muslim can not be a terrorist, a terrorist can not be a Muslim.” It’s the No true Scotsman fallacy at work.

Dismissing people who worship the same book as you and insisting they’re not “true believers” because they interpret it differently from you isn’t fooling anyone outside of your religion.

Much like the majority of Christians ignore the most heinous rules of the Old Testament and likely haven’t read the book thoroughly enough to know what’s in there, it would be more reassuring if followers of Islam dropped the “religion of peace” mantra and admitted that there are passages in the Qur’an that are uncivil and not worth following.

It’s hard to trust any group that’s not self-correcting or willing to show humility in the face of mistakes. I’d be more apt to accept “Islam hasn’t always been a religion of peace, but we’re trying to get there.”

Still, this ad is a commendable step forward.

(Image via Megan Stacy)