How Muslims are challenging Islamophobia by refusing to condemn terrorism

When white supremacist Brenton Tarrant took the lives of 51 innocent people at Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, it sent shockwaves around the globe.  Similarly, the killing spree by far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, which wiped out 77 people including children, still remains fresh in many people’s minds even though it took place almost a decade ago.  However, despite the atrocities these terrorists carried out, there was no demand for members of their religion to speak out and condemn such violent behaviour simply because they shared it.   While some might ask why they even would be expected to, for many in the Muslim community it highlights a clear disparity when acts of terrorism are carried out at the hands of so-called Islamic states and those who prescribe to their ideas.

In sharp contrast, Muslim figures are quickly asked to voice their condemnation in no uncertain terms on TV chat shows, in vox-pops, or in national debates, despite having nothing in common with the terrorist other than a claimed share of religion.  Additionally, terror attacks involving Muslims receive 357% more coverage than when the religion of the attacker is unknown. It’s an issue Asim Qureshi, writer and research director of human rights organisation CAGE, has decided to explore in his book: I Refuse To Condemn, as he believes that by not outrightly denounce these acts – while not championing them either – is a political act in itself and a way to resist anti-Islamic prejudice.  In his book, 18 essayists write about the different ways Muslims can resist what’s expected of them and exist beyond the monolith they’re portrayed to be. Asim explains that the idea came after being constantly asked to comment on terror attacks, which included an interview with Channel 4’s Jon Snow, where he was questioned on whether he condemned the actions of Jihadi John, the infamous ISIS killer. He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I had a number of experiences being interviewed or being at events where people would ask me if I condemned terrorism. ‘I wanted to capture the lived experiences and feelings of scholars and activists from different communities, who have this demand made of them.  ‘My hope for this book is that it helps those who feel the pressure to condemn, find voices and experiences that they recognise, and find a pathway to resist that demand. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM METRO (UK)

Muslim Women don’t need saving

Gendered Islamophobia in Europe

Upon declaring a Global War on Terror in 2001, the US administration claimed that the “fight against terrorism was also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. In the years that followed, western political discourse regularly referred to the need to “free” apparently oppressed Muslim women from the shackles of their religion and way of life, reviving political and societal debates about head coverings, integration, gender equality, secularism, and neutrality.

Relying on Islamophobic stereotypes, and with no regard for the rights to freedom of expression or freedom of religion, laws and policies were introduced in a number of European countries, which banned the hijab and/ or niqab. In perhaps the most flagrent example of just how entrenched Islamophobia has become, European states, in effect, began legislating on Muslim women’s bodies, dictating which clothes they could or could not wear.

Download the full report here.

In the post 9/11 era, political discourse increasingly pointed towards an apparent incompatibility between what it is to be European and what it is to be Muslim; it seemed impossible to be both. Although anti-Muslim rhetoric has implications for all Muslims, much of the legislation rolled out and the policies implemented either specifically target, or disproportionately affect, Muslim women.

Much can be said about the increased policing of Muslims collectively and the systematic targeting of Islamic places of worship, but Muslim women, in particular, have borne the brunt of state led, racist laws and policies. Those who wear head coverings and Islamic attire are easily identifiable and have thus become easy targets. Following bans on Islamic dress, Muslim women have found themselves increasingly vulnerable and exposed to gendered Islamophobic attacks, while their rights to religious freedom, freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination have been sidelined or ignored. Attacks motivated predominantly by religion and gender have largely been normalised.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TNI.ORG

Today’s America reminds me of 1990s Bosnia and Herzegovina

And as a genocide survivor, I am terrified.

The other day a shocking photo came across my Twitter feed. It showed a masked young man proudly holding his AK-47 while wearing a “chetnik” – Serb nationalist – insignia. Serb forces wore the same insignia while eradicating Bosniaks during the genocide in the 1990s.

I cringed not only because I was one of those Bosnian Muslims, but because this time, the young man was not from my past but from the present. He was not a bearded Serb soldier in 1990s Bosnia and Herzegovina, but an American man standing in front of a manicured lawn on a United States street in 2020. He was not wearing a soldier’s uniform, but a cheap Hawaiian shirt.

Some comments that followed treated him as a joke, mocking his kitschy shirt. But to me, this is no joke. To me, the image is clear evidence that the US has a serious problem with a growing number of people like the man in that photo, whose desire to obliterate non-white Americans is inspired by nationalist and Islamophobic ideologies that originated in the Balkans.

From 1992 to 1995, I saw my country torn apart. Family members were slaughtered, friends disappeared, women I knew were dragged to rape camps. I starved, my house was bombed. For nearly four years, Serbs tried to kill me and everyone I loved simply because we were Muslims. I know first-hand the horror that this kind of hate can bring. I survived and came to the US, where I thought I would be safe from genocidal ideas forever. Now, I am terrified by the parallels I see between today’s America and my homeland.

You may wonder what nationalist and Islamophobic narratives from the Balkans have to do with the rise of white supremacy in the US. Race is a more recent social construct, but religion has always drawn empires into wars. This is why American white supremacists flock to the Serb and Croat nationalist narratives premised on a long-held fear of Muslims. White supremacy needs an anchor in the past, and the Crusades serve that purpose with their imagery of bloodshed encoded into Western memory. They help white supremacists evoke a fear that power and land could be lost to the world’s fastest growing religious group, Muslims – Muslims like me, who they see as coming for them and their culture now.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Non-Muslims who live close to Muslims are less likely to be Islamophobic, study shows

The most recent Islamophobia in Australia report shows Muslims continue to be the targets of hostility and violence.

The September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 propelled them to this unenviable position. More recently, Islamic State has reinforced Western fears of and antipathy towards Islam and Muslims.

Our new study finds non-Muslim Australians living in areas with high numbers of Muslims are less Islamophobic than the general populations of Sydney and Melbourne. This suggests living side-by-side could be an antidote to Islamophobia.

What is Islamophobia?

Islamophobia refers to indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims.

Australians typically know very little about Muslims and their faith. As a result, they tend to lump together this vastly diverse group as backward, gender-oppressive and violent.


Read more: Islamophobic attacks mostly happen in public. Here’s what you can do if you see it or experience it

The “religious visibility” of some Muslims exacerbates this issue. We see Muslim women wearing hijabs or face veils, and quickly – as well as wrongly – conclude all Muslims are traditional and far too serious about their religion for our modern and secular standards.

Just like any other large population group, Muslims come from a variety of ethno-cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. As sociologist Riaz Hassan noted in 2018, 37% of Australian Muslims are born here, and the rest come from 183 different countries.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

Muslim shop owner in New Zealand films Islamophobic conversation

A Muslim shop owner in Wellington has captured a customer’s racist conversation on camera when she visited his store.

Nureddin Abdurahman, owner of Near And Far Import Export Limited, was working on Tuesday afternoon when the woman walked into his shop to look at rugs.

But instead of browsing the goods, the woman swiftly questioned where Abdurahman was from and what religion he practised.

After saying he was an Ethiopian Muslim, the woman said “That’s a shame” before spending 15 minutes telling the shop owner that his religion was “evil”.Nureddin Abdurahman was at work when a woman entered his store and started abusing him for his...Nureddin Abdurahman was at work when a woman entered his store and started abusing him for his religious beliefs. Photo: Katie HarrisAbdurahman pulled out his phone and started recording the conversation.

“You know why I think it’s a shame [you’re a Muslim], because you believe in your Quran and jihad, and you can lie,” the woman told Abdurahman as he worked.

“I think it’s a shame if you’re an atheist, I think it’s a shame if you’re a Buddhist, I think it’s a shame if someone is a Hindu.

“The thing about Muslims, they come here and demanding this and demanding that. Like you’re already demanding more funds from our Government.”

When Abdurahman asked what funds she was referring to, the woman, who identified herself as a staunch Christian, said: “The attacks in Christchurch, you did get given so much but you’re demanding so much more … Muslims have the potential to bring jihad and kill us all.”

Abdurahman, who arrived in New Zealand in 2008 and earned a Masters of International Relations at Victoria University, asked the woman why she sees Kiwi Muslims as a threat and why she believes Kiwi Muslims are responsible for atrocities overseas.

She responded by claiming the Quran is an evil book and tried to blame all Muslims for killings happening overseas.

“The same week [as the Christchurch mosque attack] 300 Christians were massacred in Africa by Muslims… The Quran is an evil book. Kill the Jew, kill the Christians. It doesn’t have anything like that in the Bible.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ODT.CO.NZ

MUSLIMS IN CHICAGO SAY THAT TRUMP’S STATEMENTS HAVE PAINTED A TARGET ON THEIR BACKS

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

As Dilara Sayeed, a 51-year old Muslim in Chicago, entered an office building for a meeting, she had an experience which she had thought almost unthinkable a few years ago.

Besides her office attire, Sayeed was also wearing a colorful hijab, a symbol of her faith. Sayeed is a social activist, an educator and a Harvard alumna. She also ran for election in the Illinois House of Representatives to represent District 5 in 2018. As such, her work and achievements, rather than her religion, had been at the forefront of most interactions.

As Sayeed got into the elevator, however she was confronted by an elderly white woman, a complete stranger, who said she would go to hell for wearing the hijab.

Sayeed said she hadn’t experienced this kind of negativity since she was growing up. “People used to yell things like ‘Go back to your country’,” she said. “I even got bullied constantly at school because of my religion.”

The situation had improved over the years as the Muslim community in Chicago grew, and people became more understanding towards Muslims. However, everything changed again when Donald Trump became president three years ago.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MEDILL REPORTS

What Happened in the Tennessean’s Newsroom After That “Indefensible” Anti-Muslim Ad

“I was feeling in myself, ‘Can I even come back to this place?’ ”

Subscribers of the Tennessean opened their Sunday papers last weekend to discover a full-page ad that warned a “nuclear device” would detonate in Nashville on July 18,. The ad said it would be set off by “Islam”—not by Muslims, not by a terrorist group, just by “Islam.” The ad, created by a fringe post-apocalyptic Christian organization called the ministry of Future for America, set off an immediate furor as it traveled online. The Tennessean itself called it “utterly indefensible” and rushed to find out how it had made it into print. By Monday, a sales manager had been fired.Alex Martin Smith@asmiff

This morning, the Nashville @Tennessean — the largest newspaper in the state — published a full-page ad from a far-right client warning “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee.” It’s accompanied by photos of Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

On Sunday, David Plazas, the opinion and engagement director at the Tennessean and the USA Today newsrooms in Tennessee, had started a furlough, like many of his colleagues, because of the coronavirus economic slowdown. He was immediately called back to address the crisis. We spoke on Tuesday about how the ad came to be, the paper’s firm response, and the impossible work of local journalism right now. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Aymann Ismail: When did you first see the ad?

David Plazas: I’m a print reader. I get the print newspaper to my home every day, and I was just as shocked an anybody, because I saw the ad at the same time that the majority of our leadership did. It was extremely upsetting. I was angry. I’ll be honest with you: I was feeling in myself, “Can I even come back to this place when I finish my furlough?” That was the initial raw emotion I had. But then I also said, I have the responsibility and the duty to do what I can to try to make this right. Because I have the capacity to do so.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE

When it comes to negative stereotypes, I feel your pain — twice! | Opinion

As an American Muslim and a law-enforcement officer, I’ve been drawing scary parallels between the Muslim and law-enforcement communities after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard all Muslims being painted with a broad brush of criticism and condemnation when only one commits an act of terrorism. Some Americans say things such as: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim,” or “Muslims aren’t the problem, it’s the system of Islam,” or “Not enough Muslims speak out against terrorism.” The list goes on and on.

This type of rhetoric is the kind of inappropriate stereotyping that creates division and fear. Sometimes it’s based on pure bigotry. Muslim leaders often say, “There is a very small minority in the Muslim world that commits acts of terrorism,” or “Don’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a few,” or “Muslim leaders across the globe continuously condemn terrorism.”TOP

Besides verbal condemnation of the acts, there’s little or no systematic work done internally by the leadership of the Muslim community to deal with this deadly problem. This, of course, is a major grievance that continues to impact the entire globe which, in turn, fuels the negative stereotyping.

Muslims have reversed the negative stereotyping, and some leaders have started using the same rhetoric against law enforcement: “Police officers are racist.” “Police officers target the black community.” “You can’t say there are only a couple of bad cops. It’s the system that’s racist.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIAMI HERALD

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.

by Saba Aziz

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.

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The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.

US college pluralism story

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen] 

“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Scapegoating Muslims

A Religious Studies student brought a dish to her mother at work one day. She and a friend had been visiting a local mosque. The dish consisted of goat meat, rice, and cheese. Everyone working the shift that night sampled it. We all agreed it was delicious. She talked about how hospitable the Muslim community was. She and her friend had a good experience and intended to return.

When Was This?

This took place during the year 1997.  Up till then, most of us had negative views about Islam and Muslim countries. All of us were old enough to remember the hostage crisis involving the US embassy in Iran. We remembered the 1991 Gulf War. We forgot that most Muslim countries were allied with the US. The first attempt on the World Trade Center had been made in 1993. And some of our coworkers remembered the Black Muslim movement.

We knew the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) kept raising the price of oil causing gas prices to soar. Since we lived in the southeastern US, we heard about how Israel was always under threat from “Arabs.” We knew very little if anything about Arab Christians.

The 1995 bombing was first blamed on “Islamic terrorists” before it was learned that it was done by neo-Nazi terrorists. The primary suspect Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran. He murdered 168 people.

A Convenient Scapegoat

September 11, 2001 brought about more scapegoating of Muslims. President George W. Bush attempted to differentiate between “radical Muslims” such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda network and Muslims who wanted nothing to do with such groups. And then in 2003, President Bush initiated the War with Iraq as an extension of “The War on Terror.” All of his attempts to differentiate between Muslims evaporated in people’s minds.

Muslims are a minority in America. Islamic culture is definitely foreign. European history is rife with stories of conflicts with Muslims. The Song of Roland begins with a description of Muslim leaders in Spain as the real enemy. Muslims have played the role of “the other” in the minds of Americans due to this heritage from Europe.

Government officials try to make distinctions between Muslims that are neighbors and Muslims that are enemies. It is not working. The reason for that is very simple. The problem is fundamentalist Christianity.

Scapegoat Theology

The scapegoat is the person who takes the blame but doesn’t deserve it. In our usage it is synonymous with the “fall guy” in scandals. Leviticus 16 mandates a dual sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. Two goats are chosen. One is slaughtered as a “sin offering.” The next goat is the sins of the people and driven into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The latter is called “the scapegoat” in early English translations of the Bible.https://9f3de2b157f5773035d07814e8d39e24.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlDriving the animal into the wilderness is supposed to be mean it has no place in the community. By being run off, the goat takes the sins away. What’s more is the goat doesn’t belong to the community either.

Fundamentalist Christianity looks for a clearly defined manifestation of the Enemy (Satan). It developed looking for enemies. There were no shortages of enemies. Evolution, Communism, Labor Unions, Feminism, Women Suffragists, and alcoholic beverages took their places in Hell’s kingdom. Why is Islam viewed as an enemy?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS