It all started when nineteen-year old college student Heraa Hashmi was studying the crusades in history class at the University of Colorado and the discussion turned to terrorism. One student remarked: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” When Hashmi push backed, the student asked: “Why don’t Muslims condemn violence?” Hashmi protested, telling him you could Google many examples of Muslims condemning violence, but she left the class saddened. “I felt like I had to do something to answer not just him, but the media and people online whose perceptions of Muslims are wrong,” she told Seventeen magazine.
So she decided to do something about it and for the next three weeks developed a 712-page list of Muslims condemning things complete with sources. The document included nearly six thousand examples of Muslim individuals and organizations speaking out against ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Pulse nightclub shooting. The spreadsheet also documented examples of Muslims speaking out against climate change, discrimination against women, and important social issues like domestic violence.
“I wanted to show people how weak the argument [that Muslims don’t care about terrorism] is,” she recently explained to the Guardian.
On the night of November 12th, Hashmi tweeted the spreadsheet out and went to bed. The next morning, she woke up to thousands of approving responses. According to the Guardian, “Her stats struck a chord. Within 24 hours, Hashmi’s tweet had been retweeted 15,000 times. A couple of her followers volunteered to help her turn her spreadsheet into an interactive website and, within a week of the tweet, muslimscondemn.com was born. The website has grown considerably since then and, sadly, flickers into prominence whenever a new attack takes place.”
Hashmi says she made the website to demonstrate how ridiculous it is that Muslims are constantly expected to offer apologies for terrorist acts. Hashmi says that Muslilms are “held to a different standard than other minorities: 1.6 billion people are expected to apologize and condemn [terrorism] on behalf of a couple of dozen lunatics. It makes no sense…. I don’t view the KKK or the Westboro Baptist church or the Lord’s Resistance Army as accurate representations of Christianity. I know that they’re on the fringe. So it gets very frustrating having to defend myself and having to apologize on behalf of some crazy people.”
“When you’re a minority, everything you say and do isn’t just a reflection of you; it’s a reflection of your entire community,” she told Seventeen last November. “The best thing we can do right now is educate people and show them that this is who Muslims are.”