By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
February 07, 2017
Of the many accusations that its critics accentuate, the US’ hypocrisy is arguably the most cited: bolstering dictatorships while claiming to champion democracy – imposing tariffs to shield local industries while selling free trade around the world – quelling many nationalist movements while peddling the ‘American dream’ – nuclear policing as the only state to have used nuclear weapons, so on and so forth.
In this regard, US President Donald Trump should be credited with undoing this longstanding criticism of the state not putting the money where its mouth is. Even so, Trump’s unprecedented displays as the US head of state, of following through with his words – no matter how revolting and disparaging they might be – seem to have made both him and the country he heads even more unpopular among the aforementioned critics, while simultaneously endearing his predecessors.
The former is understandable, the latter not quite.
Trump’s executive order, temporarily blocking the entrance of refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority states, commonly known as the ‘Muslim ban’, epitomises this duplicity. The ban, which has since been lifted by a US federal court, has two principle grounds on which it can be legally challenged. One is the violation of the right to due process, and the second that it ‘sets an unconstitutional religious test’.
Last year 37,521 Christian and 38,901 Muslim refugees were accepted by the US. Over the past decade and a half, the US has accepted almost 400,000 Christians and 279,000 Muslims as refugees.
With the source of these immigrants being predominantly Muslims majority countries, the only way Christian refugees can outnumber their Muslim counterparts is if a ‘religious test’ was already in place.
Granted that Obama’s 2011 ‘ban on Iraqis’ is gross exaggeration on the Trump administration’s part and that the previous government handpicked the seven countries that are to be banned blatant misrepresentation, where are the chants of ‘Islamophobia’ against a discriminatory screening process against Muslims?
This ‘religious test’, which is now being deemed ‘unconstitutional’, was the filter that separated persecuted minorities under the Obama regime. But if who we Muslims persecute the most climbs the pecking order, surely Muslims should be top of the priority list?
Muslims are currently doing to other Muslims in the Muslim world what the right-wing anti-Muslim bigots in the rest of the world haven’t even begun to suggest.
As the right-wing surge across the West topples one domino after the other, many liberal Muslim voices are hitting the ‘told you so’ jackpot. For ages we’ve had to depend on the Israeli Defence Force, and its orthodox Jewish apologists, to highlight how the Islamists in our midst aren’t the only nut-heads. Now we have the Hindutva tide in India, radical Buddhists in Myanmar, Trump in the US, a crumbling EU following Brexit that could formally collapse if Geert Wilders wins next month’s Dutch elections.
At this pace, we might never have to talk about everything that’s wrong with us.
For, why talk about violence against women or legal barbarism in Saudi Arabia or Iran, when the hijab and Sharia law are glorified as ostensible resistance to Trump?
What better place to sell Islamism than at rallies organised in support of Muslims?
This fuels the false dichotomy and allows those donning the stereotype to represent all Muslims. It’s the same stereotype that anti-Muslim bigots choose to paint us all as.
Why the conflict then, one wonders.
The West finally is bearing resemblance to what we have always claimed it was: a group organised against Islam, with its only goal being obliteration of Muslims. We now have bona fide anti-Muslim bigots taking over the reins, setting the stage. We finally have the Dar-ul-Harb versus Dar-ul-Islam showdown that we’ve been preparing for ages. And yet we’re upset that the West won’t let some of us in?
Or are we?
Because whenever we are upset, we damage our own property, kill our own people. When we’re better organised an embassy or two is torched, or at the very least flags and effigies are burnt.
But of course no one drew cartoons or made videos. They’re only targeting fellow Muslims who are trying to escape the horrors of war. No one has insulted Islam.
Shouldn’t we then be upset that the US is limiting the influx of Islam? Isn’t that how we see Muslims: vessels containing Islam, without any space for other ingredients?
Those refusing to be monolithic containers are disowned or destroyed by us.
When the West demonstrates against its own leaders’ discrimination against us, the onus for us Muslims to look inwards becomes more vital.
When both non-Muslims and Muslims speak for the latter, the divides we are seemingly endeavouring to overcome only become more glaring, eventually vindicating the horseshoe theory.
Let’s protest against all Muslim states and groups that refuse to allow Ahmadis their right to self-identify.
Let’s overcome our wretched record in gender equality before underscoring the misogyny of the US president.
Let’s first bring the human rights situation remotely close to the countries we so vociferously condemn.
Let’s strive to bolster our legal system such that it’s strong enough to forestall abuses of our leaders as well.
It’s time the moderate/progressive/liberal Muslims proved what we’ve claimed for so long: that most Muslims are tolerant and peace-loving individuals that believe in universal equality. The Islamists seeping in Muslim supremacy should logically never be expected to do so.
But while their liberals are doing their job, ours are balancing their scorecard. We’re currently high on false equivalence.
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a member of staff.