Exclusive - Dalia Mogahed Extended Interview Pt. 2

January 7, 2016 - Dalia Mogahed 01/07/2016 Views: 58,257

Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding Dalia Mogahed weighs in on how Muslims are represented in the American media. (5:54)

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Chatting to Dalia Mogahed.

Is that... Am I saying itcorrectly? Mogahed?

-Yes, Mogahed. That's right.-Mogahed. Mogahed. Okay.

-Mogahed. I never wantto oversay it. -Mm-hmm.

'Cause sometimes you say itlike...

Like, Hasan Minhaj works here,

and then I always call himHa-san Min-haj.

-'Cause I'm like, "I'm justgonna say it like that." -Yeah.

Uh... when you first cameto America,

uh, you came,obviously, as a Muslim person

coming to a country wherethe religion is not... wasn't,

I guess, widely practiced,in-in the strongest sense.

-Right. -Did you findthat it was difficult

for you to observe your religionto the fullest extent?

Well, I was only five years old,

so, uh, no,I thought it was fine.

You know, I-I thinkit's really exciting

-that we have so much in common.-Oh, we do?

-Can I talk about that? Yeah.-Yeah, for sure.

-We were both born in Africa.-Oh, okay.

-Where were you born?-Yeah. Egypt.

-Oh. It's not really.But whatever. -Yeah?

I mean, that's...it's just, like,

-sort of where the continentsplit and then, like... -No.

Egyptians... I... Egyptiansaren't like, "I'm African."

They're like, "No, we're not.We're..."

-But okay. Okay. Yes, yes, yes.-Yeah. We both have dimples.

-Ah. We-we do. We both...we both have dimples. -Yeah?

That is true.We both have dimples.

That's the thing.To find-find the things

-we have in common. I-I...You know what, -Yeah, that's it.

I struggle... It's such adifficult conversation to have,

-because people get so emotionalabout it. -That's true.

You see people online.You see the comments.

You see the discussionsthat people have

in and around terrorism.

Every time they see a faceon the news,

it's terrorism,and Islam is related to it.

People go, "It's Muslims.I-It's Muslims.

"We don't have...It's a war on terror

-and a war on Muslims."-Yeah.

And then I read somethingabout ISIS,

and the-the big questionthat was asked is,

would ISIS existif it wasn't for Islam?

And my answer to that question--

"Would ISIS existwithout Islam?--

is, they would exist.

And the reason I say that is

because when you lookaround the world,

as well as historicallyin the same region,

when you have those conditions

of a state that's broken down,of a terrible civil war,

you have groupslike ISIS emerge.

So in that same region,in the Middle East,

about 40, 50 years ago,there was violence.


And it was in the nameof Arab nationalism.

So even in that region,when violent groups emerge,

they are always goingto take on the flavor

of the currentsocial currency.

Today it's Islam.People are more religious.

40 years ago,they were Arab nationalists,

so terrorists would speakin that language.

If you look internationally,

anytime, again,those same conditions exist,

terrorist groups emerge,

but they will speakin the language

of their local community.

Um, the Lord's Resistance Armyis an example.

-NOAH: Yes.-In Africa.

And they claim to be Christian.

So, ISIS is the productof complex geopolitics,

and they take on the cultural

and social currencyof their region.

NOAH:It's interesting

that you saythey claim to be Christian,

because would you say

that these men claimto be Muslims?

They claim to be Muslims,as well.

I'm not in a position to saythey are Muslims or they're not.

What I know is their actions aredefinitely deviant.

NOAH:Oh, it's interesting.

So you... That's-that's...

You can be part of the religion,

but your actions do not reflectthe views of that religion?

Absolutely, and actually,there's a very important letter

I thinkeveryone should know about.

It's called"Letter to Baghdadi."

It is a very detailed rebuttalof their ideology

by the most prominentMuslim scholars in the world,

and it's an open letterto their leader.

It's very clearthat what they are doing

is againstnormative teachings of Islam.

Every time there's an attack,

do you find your world changing?

Do you see people...?

Do you have to, like,type something on Facebook?

U.S.A.? U.S.A.?


See, I didn't wear my...my flag hijab to this interview.


(applause and cheering)

-Oh. But do you...?-When I have it.

Do you find that you haveto reassure people

when this happens?

They expect me to reassure them.

And I think Muslims have beenreassuring people

-for the past 14 years.-NOAH: Yeah.

But at some point,we have to call out the demand

for the reassuranceas pretty offensive, frankly,

because if, you know,

if we look at the statistics,

the majorityof terrorists are not Muslim.

Yet, only Muslims are expectedto apologize

on behalf of, um, you know,criminals among them.


And when someone asks me, "Hey,you know, I'm not really sure.

Do you condemn it,or are you kind of...?,"

what they're really saying is,

"Are you coolwith the killing

of innocent women and children?"

And that's pretty offensivethat someone would even need

for me to tell them that,

yeah, I'm against the murderof children, really.

Um, I think it's timethat we afford Muslims

and everyone else, uh,people of color, generally,

the same assumption of innocencethat we afford the majority.

-(applause and cheering)-It's amazing.

I, uh...

I would love to have youback on the show to chat more.

-I mean, uh, not whenthere's an attack. -Okay.

I mean, you've got other placesto be, I know that.

-(laughter)-But, uh, just a chat in general

and to getinto the conversation.

It really is a...

It really isa tough conversation to have

because there's so much emotionaround it,

but one that needs to be had,so thank you very much...

-Thank you. Thank you.-...for your time.

-Dahlia Mogahed once again,everybody. -(applause)

Thank you so much for tuning in.

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