An interview with an author who criticised negative stereotypes about Islam is being widely shared online again after the Paris attacks. Reza Aslan’s interview on CNN, in which he was asked ‘Does Islam promote violence?’, initially made headlines in September last year.
He was asked to appear on the news channel after comedian Bill Maher made controversial comments about Islam. On his chat show, Maher claimed that “vast numbers of Muslims around the world believe that humans deserve to die for merely holding a different idea, or drawing a cartoon, or writing a book, or eloping with the wrong person”. He added: “Not only does the Muslim world have something in common with Isis, it has too much in common with Isis.”
Iranian-American academic Aslan, who released best-selling book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth in 2013, was questioned about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries during the CNN interview.
“This is the problem. These conversations that we’re having aren’t really being had in any kind of legitimate way. We’re not talking about women in the Muslim world, we’re using two or three examples to justify a generalisation. That’s actually the definition of bigotry,” he replied. “The problem is that you’re talking about a religion of 1.5billion people and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, ‘Well in Saudi Arabia women can’t drive,’ and saying that’s representative of Islam. That’s representative of Saudi Arabia.”