One of the things that has confused me somewhat is the amount of Muslims who I see apologising online for the action of others of Muslims. Not in My Name. Not all Muslims. Like you have to apologise. Or conform to some respectability politics so people see that you are not like the other Muslims. As if it was the fault of Muslims that someone who shared their faith or belief committed a crime.
Granted it’s nothing new, that much of Western media and conversations on social media, would love to just label Muslims as terrorists.
Should Christians have apologised when Anders Breivik massacred 77 people?
Should all Jews take responsibility for Yishai Schlissel stabbing people at the LBGT March?
What of Buddhists, considered “the most peaceful of world religions”? Should all apologise for the massacre of Rohingya Muslims by extremists Buddhists in Burma?
The thing is Islam as the number one ‘source of terror’ has just replaced other names and people. In my lifetime it has been the Irish (UK), ANC (South Africa), Black Panthers (USA) and I guess although it wasn’t called terrorism, the West’s terror of Communism in the Cold War.
Yesterday a shop in Bicester, England, declared that they didn’t want Muslims in their shop. The backlash was a tad funny but mostly for me it was sad. Sad that someone could see a whole religion and think that they are all as one. Terrorists.
Most people who protest against Islam probably don’t know the difference between Sunni, Shia and Sufist Islam. Not to mention the varying versions of Islam, such as Ahamadiyya, Nation of Islam and non denominational Muslims. Islam has provided masterful art, literature and banking which is often better than the interest dominant capitalist version of finance we have become accustomed to. Like Christianity across varying cultures it has different flavours, but given our war on terror, it is only defined by the Sharia focused approach of more extreme groups such as Al Quaeda, ISIL and other groups.
It is just a matter of time, like the Charlie Hebdo event before it, that the backlash will go against Muslims as a whole. In France and elsewhere. Where the rhetoric of governments and the scaremongering (and often inaccurate reporting) of media creates a false dichotomy. Us v Them. Muslim against everyone else.
Now I should make it clear. I am agnostic so I don’t really care for religion, but I understand the purpose it serves for many. I also get that for a large majority the stereotypes of religion as a war promoting body of hate is far from the truth. For every bomb carrying jihadist nutter there is the like of my local butcher who has a generous warmth and spirit, knows me by name and is warm to my family. For every gay hating fundamentalist Christian there are those who are inclusive, recognising that they may have different beliefs but still treat others with love and care and open arms. But terror is not limited to the religious.
The thing is if terror was just the premise of the religious we would have to provide an answer for some other terrorists like Stalin, Milosevic, Kim Jong Il, Pol Pot or Mussolini. These guys were hateful and spread terror like you would never believe but were atheist to the core and actually spent a lot of time trying to eradicate religious people from their regimes.
My final point on this reflects on the US, the foghorn of a platform shouting out against the War on Terror. From presidential candidates to influential media voices on the right (and left). The journalist Mehdi Hassan pointed out that acts of terror committed on US soil have in the main been committed by white Americans. From school shootings to church burnings to terror that heinous slaughter of church goers, more people have died at the hands of right wing extremists than Muslims . Of course they would not be framed as terror. Probably just acts of civil disobedience.
In addition in many spaces of poverty in the US, citizens live in fear and terror of black and hispanic gangs, as well as the police. But that’s another essay.
We should be careful about a single narrative as to what Islam, or any other faith group is about. We are complex individuals. Some who are carefree. Some who are angry and have issues. When we make huge assumptions about others the ignorance being highlighted is usually more about ourselves than those we tar with the same brush.