12/17/2014 04:23 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

Muslims 'Cannot Be Held Responsible' For The Minority Engaging In Terrorism

On Monday the international community was rocked by news that a "deeply disturbed individual” had taken 17 people hostage in a cafe in Sydney, Australia. The attacker and two hostages were killed as the crisis ended Tuesday morning local time.

The man's history with mental illness and crime had pushed him toward extremism, said Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, but to many the attack appeared to be motivated by the man's Islamic religion.

Many in Australia's Muslim community feared the backlash they might face in the days that followed, prompting some to share the hashtag "I'll ride with you" to encourage Muslims not to fear traveling in their religious clothing. Muslim leaders around the world also condemned the attack -- though some wondered why the religion of nearly two billion was yet again being asked to apologize for the acts of a few.

Executive director of the Arab American Association of New York Linda Sarsour spoke with HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani about the pressure placed on Muslims to condemn and take responsibility for fringe terrorists -- a task Sarsour called "draining" and "disempowering."

"I don't think I need to condemn terrorism just like another group, white Christians, don't have to condemn when we have white supremacists, for example, going into a gurdwara two years ago and shooting people in the Sikh community," Sarsour said.

She argued that no other religious community is asked to take the same amount of responsibility for "lone wolf" criminals, and said Muslims have a right to mourn their fellow citizens without needing to apologize for fringe members of their faith.

"I cannot be responsible -- Muslims cannot be responsible," Sarsour said. "We are 1.8 billion people and we cannot be asked to be responsible for the very small percentage minority of people who are engaging in terrorism or criminal acts."

Watch the HuffPost Live segment above.



Muslim Leaders Condemn Terrorism