Muslims and Islamophobia
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Despite all efforts by the civil society, Islamophobia in the West is on the increase, partly fuelled by continuing terrorist attacks, exclusivist attitudes and xenophobia among Muslims and mistreatment of religious and sectarian minorities in the Islamic world on spurious grounds like blasphemy.
Last year we had to suffer the killings of 77 innocent people in Norway. Now comes a report from Finish Intelligence, warning us that Islamophobic extremist groups exist with agendas and ideologies akin to those of the Norwegian mass murderer. SUPO has found that there is an “ideological preparedness to commit violent acts” and that the manifestos of these groups are specifically focussed on Islam as a culture.”
While the civil society and governments in the West must refrain from strengthening Jihadis, installing them in power in place of secular Muslim governments, and protecting the ideological founts of Jihadism in Saudi Arabia, we Muslims too need to introspect. What are we as people and our governments in the Islamic world doing to fuel this growing fear of Islam? If news emanating from Islamic countries consistently tells a tale of hatred and killing and forced conversion, how can it NOT lead to growing Islamophobia in the world?
While several Muslim countries like Egypt, Libya, Iran and Iraq are constant sources of such bad news, the worst case scenario is in Pakistan. Christian, Hindu, Shia, Ahmadi, all religious and sectarian minorities, are facing atrocities. Hapless Hindus have even begun to leave the country following a wave of abductions and forced conversions. Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has found that hate content has grown further in school text books.
Deliberate misinterpretation of selected portions of Islamic scriptures and their propagation to foment hatred against all minorities has grown manifold. Mainstream Muslims who see Islam as a blessing to mankind have no option but to rise against this misuse of Islam by exclusivist Wahhabi terrorist groups supported by Pakistan Army’s intelligence agency, the infamous ISI. Indeed Muslims everywhere must oppose the exclusivist-literalist interpretation of the Holy Quran that claims that all its verses are of universal application regardless of context. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, addressing the United Nations, 21st session of Human Rights Council, Geneva on 14 September, 2012
To be a prominent Muslim means suffering a daily diet of bigotry and even outright hatred. This week, Mehdi Hasan – who, other than my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, is Britain's only prominent Muslim journalist – wrote of how, every day, he is attacked as a "jihadist" and a "terrorist". He has been described as a "dangerous Muslim shithead", a "moderate cockroach", and worse. I beg fellow non-Muslims – stand with them too, before this hatred spirals further out of control....
The Moscow court made its position clear by imprisoning the three women band members, a verdict supported by the offended parties, Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church; though one member of the band has won her appeal. In regard to the anti-Islam film, those offended by and protesting against it (Salafists in the main) demand nothing less that the death penalty for the makers of the film...
Munir Sami: Look, the same thing is coming to the fore. The freedom of expression and freedom of religion are interlinked. We say whatever we like during our speeches in mosques here. Have you ever heard that the government of Canada has arrested an imam of a mosque? Similarly, we abuse Jews every day. In the verses of the Quran ‘fansurna ala qaumil kafireen’ is said constantly. Isn’t it? All our prayers end with ‘fansurna ala qaumil kafireen’ (Allah, give us victory over the infidels). Has anyone ever asked you what are you doing, brother? So on the one hand you are constantly using the freedom of expression and freedom of religion and as a result the number of mosques is increasing in Canada and in Europe. You are not looking at it from an ethical point of view. Aren’t they allowing you to build mosques under the freedom of religion? …
Munir Sami: Geopolitics has come into the play. It’s all hypocrisy and when you demand your right on the basis of hypocrisy the world will know that you are lying. The lie will appear on your forehead. Whoever says that there is no Shia-Sunni divide is the greatest liar and God’s curse is on him. They are shamelessly telling a lie every day. In Pakistan Shias are killed every day, Ahmadis are killed, Christians are killed. Why don’t they stand by their side? Go and do all this in front of the American consulate here and say, “O Americans, you continue to give aid to Pakistan and violence is unleashed against those sects. We request you to come and help us.’ But they do not do it and call it a Jewish conspiracy. They know that the American government can’t do anything about the freedom of expression even if it is filled with filth and vulgarity. But we do not go and protest because we do not want to in the first place. …
Munir Sami: I have a point. First if it is a hate (crime) in Canada, in entire Europe and in America, wherever these demonstrations are being held, all have hate crime laws. I advised someone that the world’s wealthiest Muslim country Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries should collectively establish a Anti Hate Crime and Anti Islam hate crime Fund and put hundred million dollars in it and then file an ideal suit in Canada and in America. We will use the best lawyers in the US. The lawyers here are ever ready to accept money. Pay them $400-500 according to their demand. We shall file a case through them and pursue the case up to the Supreme Court. We will challenge it and see if it can be done or not. But nobody is coming forward. One question is being raised. Why is not all this demonstrations and violent protests being held in Saudi Arabia? It is happening in Pakistan but this time no noticeable demonstration is being held in Iran. You have seen that they are good at gathering millions on Fridays. But this time they did not do that. Why did not they do it in Saudi Arabia? Because the right to freedom of speech does not exist there in the first place.
Transcript and Translation from Urdu by: New Age Islam Edit Desk
Shantanu Bhagwat, blogger
Events of the last few weeks have once again thrown into sharp relief why numerous commentators across the political divide, ideologies & cultures worry greatly about Islam. Some do not just worry; they fear.
They worry about and fear an ideology that apparently condones killing of “followers” who may have second thoughts[i]; they fear an ideology which justifies war and violence against the “infidels” and enemies as long as it is for a “just” cause[ii]. They fear an ideology that shows no qualms in killing and maiming fellow believers simply because they have a difference of opinion or interpretation.
They worry about an ideology that considers half of humanity somehow “lesser” than the other half[iii]; that condemns young girls to a lifetime of ignorance and servitude[iv] and that justifies people getting into a paroxysm of rage over perceived or real “insults” to their sacred texts, symbols or figures.
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By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
In the following article translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi of New Age Islam, the author Shakeel Rasheed laments the large-scale conversion of Muslims to Christianity. 20, 000 Muslims already have, though many seem to retain their Muslim names. He blames Christian evangelists for this and, like Muslims world over, accuses them of making use of immoral techniques, taking advantage of problems facing Muslims to covert them to Christianity. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that Muslims leaving Islam in large numbers, not necessarily converting to Christianity, but becoming just ex-Muslims, is a worldwide trend.
Talking about the trend in Africa a prominent Islamic scholar of Libya Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani told Al-Jazeera recently: “Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa’s main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non-Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people.”
The Libyan Sheikh goes on: “When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, the number of Catholics has increased from one million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let us round off that number to 330 million in the year 2000. … There are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.”
The stories which “Maulana” Mohammad Rahmatullah Mir Quasmi, administrator of a large madrasa in the Bandipura region of Kashmir told Mr. Rasheed of the spread of Christianity in the valley of Kashmir shocked the author. The “Maulana”, he reports, is fighting a lone battle against the Christian preachers of Kashmir.
But there is not the slightest hint of introspection among Muslims in Kashmir or elsewhere why Muslims are leaving Islam in droves. Most Muslims are just happy at the lie spread by Islamophibic media in the West that “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world”. Muslim numbers may be growing in some countries due to immigration and large-scale reproduction among Muslims in a bid to perpetuate our poverty and illiteracy. The Islamophobes in the West, however, have their own agenda: spreading the fear of Islam. But Muslims and our media in particular love to lap up this lie and keep repeating this a thousand times, thus further spreading the Islamophobic lie.
Time we gave some serious thought to what is really going on in the world. Why are Muslims everywhere, not just in Kashmir or Africa, leaving Islam in droves is a question that should engage our minds, if Islam has to survive on this planet. Another question that needs to engage our minds is: does it matter to the world or Allah if the number of Muslims is diminishing. Is there any reason for us as a humanity to be worried? From all accounts Muslims are only as bad or good as other religious communities. If anything, we may actually be worse, judged from several social parameters of human behaviour as much as the parameters of taqwa that God set for us. God has promised that He will destroy Muslims and bring a better community on earth if Muslims fail to keep their covenant, so why should we as humans worry? – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Anger is the five-letter word that brews, spills over and cascades into the hearts of both the malicious instigator and the violent reactionary. It is a viral emotion and, once embedded, replicates within the individual, fed by the memories of injustice, persecution, and moral righteousness. Anger is present in much of the news cycle these days, especially when the media turns its eyes to the Muslim world....
C. M Naim
I have huge respect for Javed Anand and the work he has been doing for a few decades. But I would like to raise some caveats concerning his piece ‘On the other side of fear’ These are acts of personal piety, and one must be thankful for them. But the same boxed space — actually there is nothing special or prominent about it — in Sahafat (Delhi) that carried Yahya’s letter contained on September 29 a letter on the same subject of the video from a Muhammad Ziaur Rahman, department of Urdu, Delhi University, under the title: “Yahud wa Nasara Musalmanon ke Khullamkhulla Dushman (Jews and Christians are blatant enemies of the Muslims)”...
A gutter quality amateurish video “Innocence of Muslims” made by some dedicated anti-Islam goons had gone un-noticed by almost all Americans and almost every human being on earth. The makers of the video would have been rotting with boredom in their Californian holes, if true to traditions; some among us had not resurrected their piece of excretion and brought it into the lime light. Inevitably, Muslims all over the world took to the streets and went on a rampage....
In the piercing aftermath of 9/11, Fareed Zakaria pointed out that "there are billions of poor and weak and oppressed people around the world. They don't turn planes into bombs. They don't blow themselves up to kill thousands of civilians... There is something stronger at work here than deprivation and jealousy. Something that can move men to kill but also to die". Zakaria did not blame Islam per se; his scorn was focused on its Arab heartland....
The mainstream political rhetoric concerning Islam in Norway has undoubtedly changed for the better in the past year. The number of ordinary citizens willing to contest Islamophobic discourse publicly has risen. But popular attitudes often remain stubbornly unchanged. A 2012 survey indicates that Norwegians hold more negative attitudes towards Muslims than towards any other minority group, except the Roma. Such negative attitudes are more prevalent among Norwegians who profess adherence to rightwing political parties.
A hybrid-theocracy is known for a minute liberal space, accompanied with a huge space where Sharia is informally implemented or not resisted. After all, with all the fascination that a lot of people have about revolutionary Iran, Pakistan may end up becoming a theocracy through a slow and gradual process. The liberal-secular population, which can now be counted on finger tips, was upset by what it considered as the government’s capitulation....
Saif Shahin, New Age Islam
Calling the US gurdwara attack an instance of Islamophobia masks a deeper reality. It restricts the larger phenomenon of White Racism to anti-Muslim bigotry, which can be explained away by 9/11 and other acts of Islamist extremism. Islamophobia, while deplorable, can be shown to be the result of political causes, a manifestation of “zealots seeking revenge”. The charge of White Racism strikes deeper into the heart of Western civilisation. It tears down the façade of ‘Enlightenment’ that the West prides itself in, which in fact loops back to feed the racial supremacism that drives people like Page.
In political terms, the affair can be analyzed from two angles: from the tactical perspective as an anti-U.S. manipulation; or from a strategic one, as an anti-Muslim psychological attack. The film was produced by a Zionist group composed of Jews of double Israeli-American nationality and by an Egyptian Copt. It was completed several months ago but was released at a calculated moment to provoke riots targeting the United States....
He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News....
I hope our party leaders wake up now, and rescue the party by purging the gratuitous allegations and gossip from the party. These men and women have no shame in denigrating Muslims. Let these guys say similar things to Jews and the African Americans; they will be hounded and chased down like wild pigs. Shamelessly, they feel that they have a free ride on Muslims, Mexicans, Gays and Lesbians. That is not only unpatriotic, but downright immoral to treat a fellow Americans in that fashion. They are an embarrassment to our civil society. In fact, they are not tearing Muslims, they are tearing America apart; shame on them. No group of Americans need to be targeted, we should always nail the bad guys and not their affiliations, consider the following scenario;...
There's a call to dialogue, from a small Muslim community to law enforcement officials, echoing across Florida. It's a call for understanding, tolerance and education, to cross cultural boundary lines and request leaders on both sides to ask questions, share a meal and discuss concerns. Teaching cops to get inside the mind of a terrorist has become his full-time job....
It's a standard debating technique. Your opponent offers a counter-argument. You respond with a smile, saying, "You make my point for me." It often works but only rarely is it completely true. One of those rare occasions has arisen right here on Comment is Free – via the thread below Mehdi Hasan's valedictory piece for this site....
Even in polite society, fear-mongering, negative stereotyping and abuse are now out of control – as I know from bitter experience. Have you ever been called an Islamist? How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction. Whether it's tweets, blog posts or comment threads, the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious. "Get out of my country, goatfucker." How many other political columnists have to deal with such "feedback"?...
To Shave or Not To Shave
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
What is it about Muslim beard that pricks non-Muslims where it hurts the most? Psychologists call it “conditioning”. People learn from their experiences and behave on that basis. And “Muslims with beards” have, over the past few decades, given some rather rude lessons to non-Muslims. Virtually every terrorist attack, be it in New York, Bali, Madrid or London, has been carried out by bearded Muslims. The most prominent faces of Islamist extremism, from Osama bin Laden to Omar Bakri Mohammad, sport long, flowing beards. This has “conditioned” non-Muslims to link bearded Muslims, if not all Muslims, with terror. …
Demographics Unit dispatched “mosque crawlers” (informants) and “rakers” (undercover police officers) to engage in the “human mapping” of mosques, cafes, bookstores and other hangouts within “communities of interest.” These communities consisted—or still consist, as officials have not denied that the program is ongoing—of people with roots in twenty-eight predominantly Muslim countries as well as those designated “American Black Muslim.” Imams—including those reputed to be close to law enforcement Cabdrivers, food-cart vendors and college students were all fair game, and not a single detail of their lives seemed too small to record….
Mitt Romney declared that Park51 had “the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda.” Rudy Giuliani called it “a desecration.” And Sarah Palin famously tweeted, “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate [sic].” A month later, a cabdriver in New York was asked, “Are you Muslim?” When he said yes, he was stabbed in the neck....
Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists. On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X, he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive - all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage....
A colleague from Hyderabad office came to meet me. He said he has come to Mumbai for his wife’s treatment. She is to be operated in a few days. Blood will be needed for the operation. I told him there is a list of blood donors in the office. ... He nodded but said that the blood should be that of a Muslim. ... We, the Muslims, are busy proving that all the Islamophobic propaganda and misunderstandings created after 9/11 are true. Because of our foolish actions people get excuses to propagate that Islam is not fit for a pluralistic society and that it treats every religion with hatred. And that Islam wishes its followers to be detached from all others. All this is only because of our stupidity. On the other hand, enemies of Islam wish to separate it from all other religions under a pre-planned scheme. ...