Whenever some violent lunatic snaps and claims some kind of warped justification for his murderous acts as a so-called Muslim warrior, it’s not his damaged childhood or the flood of assault weapons in America or the climate of unrelenting violence in our country that gets blamed – it’s Islam, an ancient, Abrahamic religion.” -- Arsalan Iftikhar
Arsalan Iftikhar’s life changed radically on September 11, 2001 when, as a law student at Washington University, he simultaneously felt outrage over having his country attacked as well as the weight of being one of 1.7 billion members of the same religion as the terrorists. Overnight, he became a member of a little-understood group perceived to be a threat to Americans’ safety and security.
Since then Iftikhar, now a human rights lawyer best known for the astute insights he posts on his website, TheMuslimGuy.com, along with other prominent Muslims, has borne the brunt of trying to counter the global narrative that conflates followers of the Muslim religion with terrorists who use Islam as a tool for political gain.
Towards that aim, Iftikhar has written a book that explains how this narrative has turned Muslims into the latest group of scapegoats. Fittingly called “Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms,” it has been heralded by President Jimmy Carter as “an important book that shows Islamophobia must be addressed urgently.”
It also serves as the title of his Assembly Series address on Thursday, October 20 which he delivered for the Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman Memorial Lecture. The program began at 4:30 p.m. in Anheuser-Busch Hall’s Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom.
Like every decent human being who decries the senseless violence visited upon the long and growing list of cities across the globe, the native Chicagoan not only feels their pain but then is called upon by the media to decry the tragedies and repeat ad nauseum that Muslims are not all wanton murderers.
Iftikhar is a graduate of both Arts & Sciences and the School of Law at Washington University. This is his second appearance on the Assembly Series; in 2010 Iftikhar presented a talk on the First Year Reading Program selection, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid.
His interviews, commentaries and news analyses are a staple of major news outlets. He also serves as senior editor for “The Islamic Monthly.” In addition, he serves as a consultant for Cook, Ross, Inc., a Washington DC firm.