The clinging to easy stereotypes is a reflexive response to a traumatic event. But to be governed by such preconceived notions and monochromatic generalizations leads to xenophobia and a distorted reality. Inter-marriages between Muslims, Christians, and Jews are commonplace in the Muslim world, and there are sizeable Christian populations throughout the Middle East that have lived in harmony with their Muslim neighbors for generations. But we hear and see only the violent images, and this misperception shapes our worldview. Consider another example. Over the past 25 years, Muslim majorities have elected five women as heads of state in the Muslim world (Tansu Ciller in Turkey, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia in Bangladesh, and Megawati Sukarnoputri in Indonesia). Notwithstanding our verbiage of female empowerment and liberation, we have yet to elect a single woman as president in the US. The Quran is the only sacred text that devotes an entire chapter to the rights of women. In fact, women in Europe could not inherit property independent of their husbands up until the 18th century. Islam over 1,400 years ago gave women the rights of inheritance, work, and hold public office. But the misperception of a Muslim woman that is veiled and oppressed guides our thinking.
— Reflections on Good and Evil
by Ali M. Nizamuddin at the ISPU