After Christchurch, how to beat Islamophobia and hate

19694ac8dae7c878b957cfa3ec3f2ada9b41f314Racists and bigots believe that diverse societies don’t work. Frustrated that their howling at the moon wasn’t enough, they’re now picking up weapons in an attempt to prove themselves right. We can’t keep expressing shock and then moving on until the next outrage. We watched in astonished horror last year when a Nazi entered a US synagogue and shot dead 11 worshippers. And yet after the initial alarm, the world carried on like before.

These haters are destabilising our societies and concerted action needs to be taken before things get even worse.

To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities. Let’s take a whistle-stop world tour from east to west.

To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities.

In Myanmar, decades of hate speech and persecution culminated in 2017 with over 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya having to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. The implicated military in Myanmar has been given plenty of diplomatic cover by China, whose authorities are currently holding up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups  in euphemistically titled “transformation-through-education” camps in Xinjiang. It’s one of the stories of our age, subjugation on an epic scale.

India’s historic multi-faith character has taken a hit under the leadership of Narendra Modi, a man who was chief minister during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims. His brand of Hindu nationalism has led to divisiveness rather than unity, leading to growing phenomena such as “cow-related violence”.

Many politicians across Europe have been gaining ground by peddling anti-Muslim messages. France’s Marine Le Pen compared Muslims spilling onto pavements from packed mosques after Friday prayers to Nazi occupiers. A key message of the Brexit campaign was the “threat” of Turkey joining the EU. Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage once accused British Muslims of having “split loyalties”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE 

I wanted to kill Muslims, too. But then I saw the light.

cbb0caf2-1a98-46f1-8dab-02ce26762196-Richard_MacKinney_1When news broke about the attacks at mosques in New Zealand, it felt horribly familiar to me. That’s because several years ago, I aspired to bomb a mosque, and I came close to doing it.

I’m a white American. I grew up in the rust belt, attended church camp, joined the Marine Corp after high school, and ultimately retired from the Army. I fought around the globe, including in the Middle East and Somalia. I decided my enemy was Islam. I’m proud of my service, but I’m not proud of everything I did. There comes a time when you’ve seen and done too much to let it go. After my final deployment, it seemed like vodka and my hatred for Muslims were what was keeping me alive.

So I devised a plan: Build a homemade bomb and set it off outside the Islamic center in my hometown of Muncie. In my hate-fueled mind, this was the final thing I would do for my country. I knew I would face the death penalty, but I didn’t care.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDY STAR

The White Nationalist Fantasy of Ancient Christian-Muslim Conflict Would Get an ‘F’ in History Class

downloadWhen I first heard the tragic news of the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was preparing a lecture for my Introduction to Western Religions course on Jesus in the Qur’an. This lecture asks a deceptively simple question: How was Islam different from Christianity in the 7th century? As a historian of religion, I like to use questions like this to challenge my students to interrogate the definitions of religion that we use and how we understand the borders between religions like Christianity and Islam. Who built these borders, and when did they first appear?

The terrorist charged with waging a calculated, hateful attack on Muslims in their place of worship fancies himself a historian, but it will come as little shock to learn that, given his writings, it’s clear that he’s never really read the texts of ancient Muslims and Christians or studied the artifacts they left behind.

His 74-page manifesto, “The Great Replacement,” parrots the deeply flawed historical claims of white nationalist pseudo-intellectuals and their trolling internet henchmen. The manifesto smacks of white fragility. It spews vitriolic rhetoric about the malleable Other who seeks to invade and replace; the non-white bogeyman who threatens white identity. In this case, the Other takes the shape of Muslims, with devastating consequences.

FULL ARTICLE FROM REWIRE NEWS 

Group highlights civil rights abuses against Muslims

An elementary school student who received threatening notes in her classroom. A congressional candidate who dealt with anti-Islam political flyers during her campaign. And a mother who was subjected to an invasive airport search.

Those and many other cases from 2018 are highlighted in a new report released Wednesday by the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the state’s largest Islamic advocacy organization.

The goal of the report is to educate the public about the abuses local Muslims are facing while also encouraging people to step forward if they’re dealing with similar issues, said Barbara Dougan, the group’s civil rights director.

“The perpetrators and haters are emboldened,” she said. “The level of aggression toward women is especially troubling. Muslim women who wear hijabs are shouldering the greatest burden of the physical violence and harassment.”

Among the prominent cases highlighted was one involving a fifth-grader at Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham who received two notes in her classroom storage bin — one calling her a terrorist and the other threatening her with death. The incident prompted an outpouring of support from across the country as some 500 people sent letters of encouragement to the young student as part of a campaign promoted by the council.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX NEWS

America’s Islamophobia Is Forged at the Pulpit

gettyimages-97549379-1The first time I remember hearing Islam equated with terrorism from the pulpit, I was a 17-year-old junior at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis, where my mom was—still is, in fact—an elementary teacher. It was 1998, long before Islamophobia seized the Western mainstream. My family attended a small, nondenominational evangelical church in the suburb of Carmel, where my dad was the music pastor.

“A good Muslim,” our head pastor, Marcus Warner, intoned that Sunday morning, “should want to kill Christians and Jews.” He insisted that this was the only conclusion possible from a serious reading of the Quran. As a doubting young evangelical who would later become an agnostic, this extreme statement made me uncomfortable even then. Today, in the wake of the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, it should be considered every bit as offensive as the worst anti-Semitic tropes .

But a harsh double standard has been in effect, as the brouhaha over the comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) proved. The United States recognizes anti-Semitism for the poison it is, and polices—at least on the left—even accidental falling into its tropes. But the religiously inspired Islamophobia I grew up with continues to shape Washington’s foreign policy—and Islamophobic statements too often pass without criticism in the public sphere.

To be sure, the statements about Israel by Omar, one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to U.S. Congress, did conjure up anti-Semitic tropes. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, she chose her words more carefully, avoiding the rhetoric of “allegiance” that rightly caused many to criticize her language. Some of that criticism, however, was not only made in bad faith—it was shaped by the very Islamophobia that darkly mirrors anti-Semitism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY 

How Should Christians Respond to Christchurch Mosque Massacre?

89945Eleven evangelical experts weigh in as death toll of New Zealand Muslims hits 50.

On March 15, Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, suffered a terrorist attack at the hands of an avowed white supremacist. 50 people were killed, with another 50 injured.

Prior to the attack, the citizen of Australia posted a lengthy manifesto to social media, filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim themes. He then proceeded to livestream the shooting. Some victims originally hailed from Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Given recent attacks on Christians in their places of worship, including many in Muslim nations, CT invited evangelical leaders to weigh in: How should Christians respond to Christchurch?

Richard Shumack, director of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology, Australia:

The thing that came to mind immediately is Jesus’ beatitudes. How should Christians react to Christchurch? With mourning, a hunger for justice, and peacemaking. Christians must mourn with their Muslim brothers and sisters, thirst for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be brought to justice, and put every possible effort into brokering peace in an age of furious tribalism.

I also embrace wholeheartedly the poignant wisdom of Dostoevsky quoted by the Anglican bishop of Wellington, New Zealand: At some ideas you stand perplexed, especially at the sight of human sins, uncertain whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide, “I will combat it with humble love.” If you make up your mind about that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force; it is the strongest of all things and there is nothing like it.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Christians, Islamophobia Is Our Problem

COMMENTARY
By Catherine Orsborn3-20-2019

2019-03-19t012144z_1_lynxnpef2i03p_rtroptp_4_newzealand-shootout_1I looked at the faces and read the stories of the people killed in New Zealand last Friday. I saw my own toddler in the face of the 3-year-old boy. I felt the anguish his family must be going through losing such joy from their lives. I thought about the children who no longer have a mother or a father, and the people who lost a brother, a sister, a best friend. It’s moments like this, when I see the human impact of hate, that I am called back to the “why?” of my own work.

As executive director of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, my professional life is concentrated on counteracting anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. When I started this work, there were many from my white Christian community of origin that wondered if I had converted to Islam — as if that’s why I started doing this work.

I understood where the people asking this question were coming from, but the assumption behind it bothered me. They assumed the only reason Christians would care about anti-Muslim hate in the United States is if they had converted to Islam themselves. The assumption caused me to dig deeper into why I would care enough about this issue to devote myself to it not in spite of my Christian identity but because of it.

This theological grounding is a major part of why I started and stay involved in this work. But there’s something else that should be pulling white Christians into addressing Islamophobia: it’s our problem.