By Mamdouh AlMuhaini
4 February 2017
In 2011, a mosque that was going to be built in the Ground Zero area near the World Trade Centre that witnessed the 9/11 attack, caused a huge controversy. Those who were against constructing it said that the location is inappropriate, while Muslims and their supporters conveyed a correct point of view, stating that they are not responsible for the actions of terrorists, even if the perpetrators were Muslims.
This is a logical argument but the other side of the argument that will always be repeated and echoed was stated by the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Faysal Abdul Raouf, saying that the prevention of the construction will anger Muslims and mobilize them against the West. However, the reality is that a small number of Muslims was interested in this topic or has even heard of it. At the end, the centre was built few miles from the controversial location and we have not heard Muslims objecting in the streets.
The same story was recently repeated on a larger scale. The US administration issued a ban on travellers from seven Muslim countries for security reasons. The decision triggered a wave of anger because it was perceived as being against Muslims despite the repeated denials of the administration. Days after the decision was issued, the infuriated voices calmed down and the administration helped when stating that some of the refugees can enter the US territories. Some objectors reiterated the same excuse warning from “angry Muslims” and the fear of provoking them.
After the last decision and its repercussions, the argument of “angry Muslims” is more than ever humiliating because it puts all the Muslims in one category as if they were just a rigid group of people angered and entertained by the same thing, even if it is a trivial issue. It is even more humiliating because it assumes that it is easy to manipulate the feelings of Muslims and treat them like children who are not incapable of independent thinking and they react about the same thing differently. What hurts me and angers me is different from what angers and hurts my friend or my brother; assuming the opposite would make us some puppets without opinion or core values.
I remember that once a professor said something during his lecture, and then apologized for all Muslim students in the room. That was the most humiliating apology I have ever heard in my life because he put us all in the same basket, as if we were a flock of identical sheep.
What is even more humiliating is that they do not react in the same way about all other religions and cultures; they know that what angers one person will not anger the others, so the same professor did not have to apologize to everybody, formulating an apology that would work for fools.
There is an exploitative mean side. The mosque’s Imam, Abdel Raouf has used “angry Muslims” as an excuse to terrorize and intimidate the opponents from these unrestrained beasts in order to be victorious in his own battle, without thinking for one second that he is hurting our image and reputation. The same applies to those who are against the ban, like famous religious figures who use us at every opportunity as a boogeyman that scares frightened foreigners from our savage anger that can explode at any moment. This is why we have become a valuable tool in the negotiations and conflicts; this tool can end the debate swiftly.
Such argument is repeated in Western press that perceives us with the same amount of inferiority. This argument is used by politicians and journalists who claim to defend Muslims in order to achieve their interests and damage the reputation of other currents under the pretext of distorting the image of Islam and Muslims.
Strangely enough, the rational Muslim figures in the West are under attack from the same press, under the pretext of their alliance with the right-wing radical currents. The situation is weird. They terrorize Muslims who see things from another angle, or even have a different opinion; they label them as racists and fascists.
This issue has a deeper and more dangerous side used by radicals who promote and boost such concerns for obvious reasons.
They want to portray Muslims as if they were a huge bloc so that they would be able to control them and achieve 3 goals. They use them in negotiations with the West, under the pretext that they can control this vicious monster and at the same time isolate this monster and deepen its hostility and isolation from other civilizations, and thirdly they benefit personally on the financial and social level, through detaining the keys to money and power.
Maybe it's time to stop this erroneous and humiliating argument. I am a Muslim and I am not angry and you cannot manipulate my mind and emotions easily. There are millions of Muslims like me.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms.