Hey Muslim! Yes you, you with the face. Listen carefully. Another Muslim related atrocity has just been committed, this very minute, probably. All Muslims must therefore, by law, apologise, condemn, and denounce. In that order. You must do your Orwellian-like daily two minutes of condemnation, two minutes spent shouting at yourself despairingly in the mirror for all the atrocities wrongly committed by other Muslims in the name of Islam. You must, because you are so overcome with collective guilt, apologise to random non-Muslim passers by for things that have nothing directly to do with you. Have you done this? You haven’t? How dare you? How very dare you? What a bleeping liberty! Et cetera, et cetera.
When it comes to terrorist related incidents, it is clear from the news that Muslims and Islam are unfortunately involved in a high number of these headline-inducing acts of wanton violence. During Ramadhaan 2015 alone, the month of peace and patience (theologically at least), there was a sickeningly high number of atrocities committed all over the world, as I have mentioned in previous blogs.
Whenever such an incident occurs, there is an all too familiar cycle of media related events:
- a Muslim commits an atrocity in the name of Islam
- the media link him to a mosque or a group or both (Al-Qaeda, Al Shabbab, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Brotherhood, take your pick)
- the media show a video he has posted where he says he hates infidels, death to the west, Islam will rise up, etc
- many parts of the mainstream media will say this is representative of the majority of Muslims, a majority who just don’t condemn enough or apologise enough (Fox News, Bill Maher, American Spectator, Douglas Murray, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Pamela Geller, Franklin Graham, take your pick)
- most of the mainstream media will call this act an act of terrorism, rather than a lone wolf or someone who is ‘mentally unstable’
- the media will also ask just how susceptible other Muslims are in becoming similarly brain washed, and this will increase Islamophobia due to a heightened sense of fear and suspicion of all Muslims everywhere, whilst simultaneously alienating the majority of innocent Muslims everywhere
- to counteract this view you will see in some parts of the media a Muslim or a politician weakly say “This is not Islam…Islam is the religion of peace…‘Islam’ actually means ‘peace’…” (many eyes roll depressingly towards the heavens)
- any Muslim voice that does actually strongly condemn the act is surprisingly not heard in the mainstream media
- media interest will die down after a while…until the next such incident
- repeat ad infinitum
The silent truth is that the vast, vast majority of Muslims all over the world are twice as shocked as non-Muslims when such atrocities occur. Firstly there is shock and condemnation that such a horrific act has taken place, and then there is an even greater shock that this mass murderer (let’s call a spade a spade) is doing all of this in the name of Islam, my Islam, a religion that I consider to be peaceful and truly enlightening (well it is for me). What more can we majority main stream Muslims do? What more can we say? Is it really my fault if some idiot on a beach in Tunisia shoots dozens of holiday makers? At what point in my life have I thought that beheading someone is a really good thing? When was the last time I read about the Taliban and thought to myself “You guys rock! High five! Yaksheemaash!”?
If you watch the news every day you’ll know this situation is extremely fluid, constantly changing on a daily basis. For example, a few days after 60,000 Muslims peacefully celebrated Eid in Birmingham, the British prime minister David Cameron made a speech in Birmingham where he vowed to tackle Islamic extremism and the causes of such extremism. One of the many ways proposed to do this would be to empower “moderate and reforming voices who speak for the vast majority of Muslims that want to reclaim their religion.”
A word of caution: be careful when listening to the news, for it is more reactive than it has ever been. A few examples to illustrate this point:
- a shooting in Norway with 77 dead. Is the perpetrator a Muslim? Nope, not this time, this time it’s a lone Christian wolf who has mental disturbances
- nine worshippers shot dead in a church in Charleston. Muslim to blame? Nope, a lone Christian wolf who has mental disturbances
- twelve people shot dead in a cinema in Aurora. A lone Christian wolf who has mental disturbances, before you ask
- three Muslims shot dead by a non-Muslim in Chapel Hill. A neighbourly dispute that escalated, so move along people, nothing more to see here, aside from another lone wolf
- an Airbus deliberately crashed into the French Alps, killing 150 people. A lone wolf with (and I kid you not) a “psychosomatic illness”
With regards to the Airbus incident, this is how you work out how to react…
With regards to the Norway incident, know that the killer Anders Behring Breivik has referred to himself as ‘Justiciar Knight Commander of the Knights Templar’, which I believe is another way of saying ‘lone wolf’. Here is a quote from an article about the capture of Breivik that highlights this confused way of reacting:
After Breivik’s capture, police brought him ashore in a small boat. “He looked unaffected, quite cold, like it was a normal day,” said Anders Nohre Berg, 34, who lives nearby. “I think a lot of people are happy it’s just one crazy guy, not a terrorist group or al-Qaeda or something like that.” Sigrid Skeie Tjensvoll, who had come out to see the bomb damage in Oslo, agreed. “If Islamic people do something bad, you think, ‘Oh, it’s Muslims,’?” she said. “But if a white Protestant does something bad, you just think he’s mad. That’s something we need to think about.” – Suspect In Norway Attacks Admits Involvement, Denies Responsibility (see also Muslims Feel Sting Of Initial Blame)
And here’s a cartoon to further illustrate this point:
When the New York Times called Breivik a ‘Christian extremist’, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly (a conservative Christian pundit) went to great lengths to point out that this despicable act has nothing to with Christianity, saying: “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”
Would it be acceptable if I reworded this to read: “No one believing in Muhammad commits mass murder…The man might have called himself a Muslim on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”?
Likewise, Mathew N. Schmalz, an associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, said that “Breivik’s vision is a Christianity without Christ.”
Can I also reword this so that, with regards to say ISIS, their vision is an Islam without the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
This reactive double think nature of the news prompted Jack Mirkinson to say, regarding the fake ISIS flag reported by CNN at a gay pride march, that “…everyone in the news business has been driven slightly insane by the madhouse that is our modern media cycle. The pressure to give in, to go with a shaky story, is immense. Everything goes so unbelievably fast, and every second that you don’t have a story it seems like the entire world is leaving you behind. CNN must have felt like it was sitting on a ticking time bomb—what if someone else got to the ISIS Pride flag first? What if some rival tweeted a picture out and took control of the story? How many Facebook links would that be sacrificing? Down that road lies certain doom. All of us in journalism owe it to ourselves to take a few deep breaths now and then. Give yourself a break, media!”
Anyways, before the next Muslim based atrocity occurs, which it no doubt unfortunately will, before we synchronise our condemning watches, before we let the denouncement parade begin, I would like to present a few things below to highlight the fact that we Muslims do indeed condemn all these atrocities, in no uncertain terms. I would also like to highlight a bias in the reporting of incidents, depending on whether or not the perpetrator is Muslim, and whether or not the victims are Muslim. So here are links to relevant articles, quotes, and images, all of which will hopefully present a different angle to what currently exists in the mainstream media. Enjoy!
The following quote, taken from the Daily Show (May 2015), is part of a conversation between author Reza Aslan and host Jon Stewart:
Reza: The thing about religion that people have to understand is that it’s far more a matter of identity than it is just a matter of beliefs and practices. I mean, those things are important but when you say, “I’m a Jew, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Christian,” you’re making an identity statement far more so than a statement of the things that you believe in. I mean, let me put it this way, seven out of 10 Americans call themselves Christians, seven out of 10 Americans. Think about that for a minute. Seven out of 10 Americans. Seven out of 10 Americans!
Jon: Hold on. I don’t do well with this…so you’re saying 135%…wait, hold on. [Laughter]
Reza: That means that seven out of 10 Americans go to church on Sunday, or seven out of 10 Americans read the Bible on a regular basis, or seven out of 10 Americans can tell you anything about Jesus except that he was born in a manger and died on a cross? No, of course, not. The vast majority of that 70% when say they “I’m a Christian” they’re making a statement of their identity that includes their nationality, their ethnicity, their world view, their politics. All of those things are wrapped up. And so religion is about who you are as a person as much as it is about what you believe and the rituals that you practice.
The following quote is taken from a speech by actor Aasif Mandvi, speaking at the 2015 Congressional Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner:
As a Muslim American, I also want you to know that I denounce terrorism, okay? Can we get that off of the table now? I denounce it. It’s done. I denounce it. We’re always denouncing things. Whenever a Muslim does anything that’s bad, all of the other Muslims have to come out and denounce everything that’s bad. I mean, I’m used to it. As a comedian I denounce Carrot Top. As a New Yorker I denounce winter. As an Indian American I denounce the Washington Red Skins, even though they’re not the same kind of Indian. [Laughter] But I’ll denounce them. Whatever. I’m used to it, I’m used to denouncing.
White people never have to denounce anything, right? I mean I’ll make it easy on you. We can start with khaki pants and barber shop quartets, before we work our way up to the big stuff like crystal meth, and depleting the world’s natural resources.
You know when Muslims or people in the Middle East commit violence, it is immediately “Islam!…Islam!…It’s bad!” A white person can write a Christian manifesto, shoot hundreds of people with a sub machine gun, have a bomb in his car, and it’s bad parenting! “He’s mentally unstable…He went off his meds.” Why can’t I be mentally unstable? Why can’t Muslims ever be mentally unstable? I want to be mentally unstable! I would love to be mentally unstable!
Sure, I get it, I get it. Look, having little understanding of other cultures, being giving an AK-47 at 11 years old and told that God is on your side, is part of what it means to be American. But there are people in Afghanistan and Iraq who feel the same way. All I’m saying, white people, is stop hoarding the crazy! And it affects the way even I think about it, you know? A white person ran out of a building the other day in New York city, stole my cab. I thought that guy’s a jerk. If a Muslim person ran out of a building and stole my cab I’d think that building’s going to blow. I see a white person with a beard I want to buy his artisanal honey. [Laughter] I see a Muslim person with a beard I’m hoping he’s getting pulled out of line at JFK. I see three white guys walking into a strip club, I think bachelor party. I see three Muslim guys walking into a strip club, I’m getting the hell out of town!
On a more serious note, Dr Sherman Abdul-Hakim Jackson makes the following two points in a speech entitled Rooted In Faith Growing Through Service:
We have to be very, very careful about being psychologically bullied into this position where we feel that all we can do as Muslims is apologise, is adjust, is accept our status as ‘problem people’…a ‘problem people’ about whom it is said ‘something is wrong with you, and if you would just change that something everything would be alright’. And you know what happens, typically? That something is changed, and then what happens? The goal post moves. And what you end up as is a modern slave, you end up dominated, you have had your story taken away from you and you have been given a supporting role in somebody else’s story…We have to be very careful about this…
Back in 1963…James Baldwin, a famous African American writer, made a very poignant, pungent statement…Baldwin said this…“I am not a nigger, and America needs to figure out why it needs me to be a nigger. Does that make it easier for you to act on your prejudice? Does that make it easier for you to have a higher dignified raised sense of self? Does that make it easier for you to carry out indiscriminate acts of violence? Does that make it easier for you to do that?”…And what we have to do as Muslims is say we are not those people who you say we are, and what you have to figure out is why you need us to be that. Why do you need us to be terrorists? Why do you need us to be security threats? And we have to help America by helping America see that, and when we are constantly trying to appease those prejudices, all we do ultimately is strengthen them.
Yes, I agree, there are a shed load of links below, but the point is to highlight just how much condemnation actually occurs by Muslims, and just how biased media reporting can be:
Two humorous articles:
Some more serious articles that are well worth reading:
- 3 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Ask Muslims To Condemn Terrorism
- Betrayed As A Marine And A Muslim
- Muslims React To Garland Shooting With Strong Condemnation Of Violence
- 7 Questions To Ask Before Asking If Muslims Condemn Terrorism
- Remember – Just 0.02 Per Cent Of The British Muslim Population Go To Join Middle East Conflicts
- Imam Explains Why Muslims Shouldn’t Be Blamed For Chattanooga Shooting
- Charlie Hebdo: Norway’s Christians Didn’t Have To Apologise For Anders Breivik, And It’s The Same For Muslims Now
- The Conservative Double Standard On Christian Terrorism
- This audio clip is only a few minutes long, but well worth a listen: James O’Brien Dismantles Radio Caller Who Demands Muslims Apologise For Paris Massacre
- The Daily Show – Sketch About Condemning
- The Rapper Akala Talking To Frankie Boyle About Racism And The Media…
Muslims are not all the same. You can have a Muslim shoot 4 US marines dead, whilst at the same time you can have other Muslims raise money for burnt black church buildings. That’s why perspective is important, and these two images highlight, at least in numerical terms, why Muslims should not really have to apologise for the actions of a few:
As stated above, real Muslim voices offering strong condemnation are often not listened to:
Here we have double standards regarding the way the Charleston perpetrator was treated by the police, compared to the way Muslims are treated by the police:
And here we have more double standards regarding the movie American Sniper:
Finally, that Chelsea Paris incident…
An incident took place in Paris in February 2015. A small group of Chelsea football fans stopped a black man from getting on an underground train. There is amateur video footage that shows the man being repeatedly pushed from the train while the group of white Chelsea fans chant “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”.
Oh dear, what to do now? If Muslims had done the pushing, then there would be an outbreak of condemning. But in this case the pushers were not Muslim, so…?
Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea football club manager, told his weekly pre-match news conference: “The dressing room reacted as I did, with disappointment. They condemn the situation and support the gentleman involved. They feel ashamed but maybe we shouldn’t because these people involved do not belong to Chelsea football club.”
David Johnstone, a Chelsea fanzine editor, went a step further by telling BBC Radio Five Live “Because of the actions of possibly half a dozen people on a Metro train in Paris all the supporters are going to be labelled as racist.” As a Muslim who is labelled for the actions of others, I know how he feels.
Imam Qari Muhammad Asim provided an Islamic outlook. He made the following interesting comments on Facebook:
It has been an interesting day listening to, observing and reading about condemnation of the racist incident in Paris involving Chelsea fans. Football fans from various clubs, in particular Chelsea, and [football] managers have been at pains to distance themselves from the racist gang of football fans.
Chelsea football club, [and the] Chelsea Supporters’ Association have issued statements. Football’s European governing body, UEFA, has been asked to get involved. Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, football’s world governing body, condemned the fans’ behaviour. Even the retired celebrity footballers, [and] the Prime Minister had to make a comment about this racist incident.
Chelsea today called on its own supporters to turn in a gang of football fans filmed repeatedly pushing a black man off a train and chanting: ‘We’re racist and that’s the way we like it’.
A club spokesman said: ‘Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society.’
When pretty much everyone knows that every football fan, whether a Chelsea fan or otherwise, is not a racist, then why are people condemning it? Why is there an expectation that people must condemn it and distance themselves?
If FIFA, UEFA, [and] Chelsea [football] club had refused to comment or remained silent, what would have been surmised from that?
Would their silence have been taken to mean that they endorse those racists chants? Is that why they are being so vocal in their condemnation or is there some other reason?
When people condemn an action of a group, are they being apologetic for those people or are they distancing themselves from those people’s vile acts?
Here are two comments made by others to the above post:
Julie Siddiqi: …since when has ‘condemning’ something become the same as negatively ‘apologising’ which is the accusation levelled at some Muslims (only by other Muslims though!)
Rahim St John: Interestingly the very city where the Prime Minister marched in support of the freedom to make racist insults only a few weeks ago [after the Charlie Hebdo incident]. Hardly surprising that these Chelsea fans are confused by shifting “British values”.
It was interesting to see how the majority of Chelsea fans, as well as staff working for Chelsea football club, felt the need to condemn the actions of such a small minority of their fans, with some then questioning whether the many should indeed condemn the actions of the few.
When you see non Muslims go through the same struggles us Muslims have to go through, it paints a different picture on this whole issue of whether we should apologise or not.
I am hoping this blog post will, at the very least, get people to think a little differently about this topic, especially those who think that Muslims do not condemn enough, and indeed those who think all Muslims should always apologise whenever any Muslim anywhere commits any act of bloodshed, for whatever reason.
I’ll leave you with these thoughts…
When non-Muslims hear that these atrocities are committed by other lone wolf non-Muslims, does that help you sleep better at night? Do you feel that wee bit safer? In those situations are you filled with sorrow more than anger? If the same atrocity was committed by a Muslim, would you be filled with anger more than sorrow? Is the world a safer place if all killing is done by non-Muslims? Is this more righteous?