By Rushdi Siddiqui
13 January 2015
Is Catholicism/the Vatican on trial every time a priest sexually assaults a minor? Or is the Pope ultimately responsible for the deviant acts of lone-wolf priests?
Is Judaism on trial for every illegal settlement expansion and violence against Palestinians?
Is Buddhism, in Sri Lanka or Thailand, on trial every time a monk assaults a person of a different faith or destroys property? Put differently, are the teachings and principles of Buddha revisited based upon violent acts of lone-wolf monks?
It would appear that since the World Trade Center bombing (in the 1990s) and 9/11, every time a lone-wolf act done by a “Muslim” – from shoe (would-be) bomber to underwear (would-be) bomber to Time Square (would-be) bomber – there is debate, led generally by the Western media, about the violence within Islam or questioning the “peacefulness of Islam”.
(To be fair to some of the “fair and balanced” media and those watching it, there are abundant news stories on Boko Haram [kidnapping Nigerian girls], Taliban, al-Qaeda, LET, Isis, Shabab, and others. Many times these organisations are targeting fellow Muslims, as latter are not “Islamic” enough for the former. Thus, there is more Muslim-on-Muslim violence – witness the attempted cold-blooded murder of Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban because she was promoting education for girls in Pakistan.}
Concurrently, there is the rightful denouncement by Muslims, Muslim organisations, Muslim countries (like Malaysia) of heinous acts and heartfelt prayers for the victims. Yet, it seems it is still not enough, as more is expected in the court of public opinion! But what is that more?
Quotes from a recent AP story on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in France:
"We denounce the odious crimes committed by the terrorists, whose criminal action endangers our willingness to live together," said the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur.
"The people who carried out that attack in the name of Islam are not Muslims... The Prophet did not advocate violence against non-Muslims," Abdel Qader Achour, of the conservative Omar Ibn Al Khattab mosque.
"To a cartoon you reply with a cartoon, to a drawing with a drawing, to a newspaper article with a newspaper article... But you don't reply with guns," said Mustafa Riad of the Union mosque in the southern city of Montpellier.
Muslim theologian Tareq Oubrou, an imam in Bordeaux, in the southwest, said Muslims were furious that their religion had been "confiscated by crazies... and uneducated, unbalanced people."
There will no doubt be the following expected set reactions, including:
– There will be fear among the Muslim communities residing in non-Muslim countries.
– Muslims will rightfully hold interfaith dialogue and rallies/marches and condemn such acts and distance Islam from lone-wolves.
– Some extremist organisation will take responsibility for these criminal acts against humanity.
– The inevitable backlash, where some people will assault Muslims (or those that look like Muslims), damage Muslim property, throw pig blood/heads at mosques and Muslim homes, and so on. They will unintentionally act as a poster child for extremists for recruitment and raising money.
– People like Benjamin Netanyahu will say to French Jews, “Israel is your home” after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, hence escalating the fear-mongering.
– There will be non-Muslims that will provide support, “air-cover” for Muslims against the actions of Islamophobes. For example, the tragedy in Australia, where a “Muslim” took hostages during the siege last month near the Lindt cafe, and solidarity campaign of hashtag #Iwillridewithyou. The tragedy brought people together and undermined the objective of all extremists of “divide and chaos”.
The irony of the situation is that the “Muslim” extremists cause more backlash and damage to Islam than the anti-Shariah, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim movement of positioning Islam as a violent religion or Islam as a “violent country”. The latter organisation’s cost of their anti-Islam campaign is cheap and includes news video clips of the events like Lindt Café (Sydney), Charlie Hebdo (Paris), 9/11 (NY), 7/7 (London), etc.
The anti-Islam/-Muslim movement, politicians and media will temporarily succeed in positioning Muslims as outsiders, as part of the bigger anti-immigration movement, as repressing women (Hijab), and so on. For example, Marine Le Pen, leader of the extreme-right/anti-immigrant National Front Party, stated after Hebdo, “… Islamist declared war on France… we must deprive these people of French nationality if they have dual citizenship…”
Such people and organisations are trying to “stone to death Islam/Muslims” by words, hence becoming what they have historically condemned.
The reality of the situation, be it in France, US or Australia, is that Muslims identify themselves as say American, Australian or French citizens, assimilated secularly and expressing their rights spiritually. Yes, there are disenchanted Muslim youths in, say, France, and provocative comments by the likes of Le Pen become the ideal recruiting slogan for extremist organisations, whose objective is to create chaos.
This creates the inevitable extremist-versus-extremist atmosphere, which causes a “cold chill” amongst communities and people and can give rise to foreign policy tensions.
So, what is on trial? Islam? Muslims? Disenchanted youths? Selected host country politicians and policies towards immigrants? Events in other countries? The full moon?
The phrase the “perfect storm” comes to mind, which is a confluence of concurrent happenings resulting in a spark that causes a mushroom cloud of violence. The dust from the cloud will eventually settle, but a lot of (irreparable) damage is done by the fallout.
What is required is a dialogue amongst and between civilised people to be civil for civilisation.
The Muslims have to look within and understand “submission” and “peace be upon you”.
The non-Muslims must read the text of Quran within context.
Thus, people are on trial for showing understanding, compassion, and mercy towards each other.
It was reported that a Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, of the kosher grocery store in Paris, Hyper Cacher, saved several customers by hiding them in the store’s freezer from the terrorist gunman Amedy Coulibaly.
The jury, court of public opinion, will say the good of Lassana Bathily drowns the evil of the terrorists.
That’s what’s on trial!