Kristof: "We Really, Really Have To Be Careful Not To Respond To Extraordinary Intolerance of These Jihadis With Our Own Intolerance"

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New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof warns "we have to be very, very careful not to engage in religious profiling and to recognize that one can't blame 1.6 billion adherents of this vast and complex religion."

"One can't blame this event on all of them. One has to acknowledge that the Taliban folks who is shot Malala [Yousafzai] are one element of Islam and Malala herself is another. And this is a religion that contains multitudes," Kristof said Thursday afternoon on CNN.

Kristof also warned of society's tendacy to "otherize" people.

"I think we have a tendency to otherize people, if you will, of a different race, a different religion, a different ethnicity and then to perceive events into a narrative of threat and this is a very natural human thing," Kristof said. "And I must say when I travel around the Mideast, I sit down in mosques and hear clerics concoct these extraordinary sort of paranoid visions of America because every data point that they get plugs into this stereotype that they have and they otherize us. I think we really, really have to be careful not to respond to the extraordinary intolerance of these jihadis with our own intolerance."

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Nicholas, you have covered these conflicts around the world and you wrote so passionately today about the need to not do religious profiling. Let's talk about how Muslims in France and Western Europe have been under fire. There have been reports of actions against mosques, three mosques around France today. What is the message we should be focusing on?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it is two-fold. On the one hand, I think we have to acknowledge, and Muslims indeed do acknowledge it, there is a legitimate problem within Islam. There is a strain of extremism, there is a strain of intolerance and misogyny. And these are real issues and it's characteristic that as soon as this attack happened, even though Charlie Hebdo offends all kinds of people, everything [shows] that this was are extremist Muslims who decided to use AK-47s to resolve that.

But at the same time that we acknowledge there is a real issue here of extremism within this vast religion, I think we have to be very, very careful not to engage in religious profiling and to recognize that one can't blame 1.6 billion adherents of this vast and complex religion. One can't blame this event on all of them. One has to acknowledge that the Taliban folks who is shot Malala [Yousafzai] are one element of Islam and Malala herself is another. And this is a religion that contains multitudes.

MITCHELL: And in fact you wrote today:

So let’s avoid religious profiling. The average Christian had nothing to apologize for when Christian fanatics in the former Yugoslavia engaged in genocide against Muslims. Critics of Islam are not to blame because an anti-Muslim fanatic murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011.

There are violence groups within all religions.

KRISTOF: That's right, and I think we have a tendency to otherize people, if you will, of a different race, a different religion, a different ethnicity and then to perceive events into a narrative of threat and this is a very natural human thing. And I must say when I travel around the Mideast, I sit down in mosques and hear clerics concoct these extraordinary sort of paranoid visions of America because every datapoint that they get plugs into this stereotype that they have and they otherize us. I think we really, really have to be careful not to respond to the extraordinary intolerance of these jihadis with our own intolerance.

MITCHELL: I was talking earlier in the program to Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) who is Muslim and he was praising what George W. Bush did after 9/11. And in trying to bring groups together, it was an ecumenical, you remember an ecumenical service at the National Cathedral.

What does François Hollande have to do now given the fact that France has had already so much division because of the large Muslim community and its anti-immigrant stance in some quarters and the right-wing, of course?

KRISTOF: And Marine Le Pen, the head of one of these right-wing parties, is indeed going to be a great political beneficiary. And I've had some of these more anguished comments from Muslims in Europe who may point out that nobody defames Islam or the prophet more than people who murder cartoonists. I mean, the cartoonists are far less inimical to Islam than people who slaughter those cartoonists. And now on top of that, there is going to be this backlash that is going to affect roughly 8% or 10% of the population of France that is Muslim. One of the things I really admired about Australia after the incident there last month, the hostage taking in the cafe, Andrea, was the way Australians gathered around for that "I will ride with you" Twitter campaign, offering -- I thought it was really kind of beautiful to be able to recognize on the one hand that that attack on that cafe was just brutal, intolerable and just to recognize that ordinary Muslim-Australians in hijab were terrified of the backlash and needed support and to reach out and to help them escort them safely in public transport. I thought that was a tremendous reaction on the part of Australia and I think it is something that we can aspire to at a time when it's very easy for hatred to try to promote more hatred.

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