Terminology is seldom neutral or innocent. In a polarized environment, it is heavy with agenda and rife with hidden meaning.

The term “Judeo-Christian heritage” has come into fashionable usage in the West as if it is inseparable from core European values.

It connotes an exclusivist agenda and serves also to stigmatize and marginalize the Muslim community by attempting to convey that Islam is somehow outside the pale. So, “Judeo-Christian” becomes a tool of exclusion and depicts the Western world as under siege and barricading itself against the barbarians at the gates. The mentality it has created has led to a neo-fascist surge of anti-immigrant xenophobia in Europe.

The frequent usage of “Judeo-Christian” falsely suggests that, historically, Christianity and Judaism have been on the same page enjoying amity and common interests. It is one of the canards of the modern era. By not countering this with truth, the Muslim intelligentsia has surrendered ground to the obscurantist extreme.

70 years ago, European Jewry was nearly exterminated in the Christian West. That much is well-known. What is not well-known is that, amidst this bleak twilight, gleamed heroic deeds of humanitarian compassion and empathy from Muslim individuals arose.

In mid-February, there was a world premiere in Washington of a new movie called “Enemy of the Reich: the Noor Inayat Khan Story.” It was a true story of Noor – a descendant of Tipu Sultan – who volunteered to be the first female covert teletype operator to be infiltrated by the British into German-occupied France during World War II, at severe risk to her life. Noor was betrayed, and was captured and executed by the Nazis. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross – the highest gallantry award for civilians.

Earlier, in World War I, Chakwal-born Subedar Khudadad Khan became, in 1914, the first South Asian recipient of the Victoria Cross – the highest military award for bravery in battle – while fighting Germans in Belgium.

There are other sterling examples of Muslim valor, which are not well-acknowledged. In the early 1940’s, an Iranian diplomat in Paris, Abdol-Hossein Sardari, termed the “Iranian Schindler” by the BBC in a news report by Brian Wheeler on December 20, 2011, was able to get more than 2,000 French Iranian Jews exempted from Nazi race laws by arguing that they were not related to European Jews. He then helped them escape from Nazi-occupied France. Similarly, the award-winning 2012 documentary, “Besa: The Promise,” depicts a true and untold history of how Muslim families in Nazi-occupied Albania heroically saved and sheltered Albanian Jews when, in contrast, the Dutch and the French were eagerly collaborating with their German occupiers.

Washington’s record was no better. In June 1939, US President Franklin Roosevelt displayed moral indifference and even barred from the shores of Miami, the ship St Louis that carried 937 German Jewish refugees seeking sanctuary. The book, “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,” by Rafael Medoff reveals how, when it really mattered, the American elite was unmoved by the human plight of that brutal war.

A spurious narrative, unless countered, becomes entrenched and accepted as truth. It underscores the famous saying: “I have already made up my mind; please don’t confuse me with the facts.”

 The writer is an attorney-at-law and policy  analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar.

Email:mowahid@aol.com