What’s a Muslim to do without the iCondemn?

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Where are the moderate Muslims? Why aren’t Muslims speaking up? Muslims should be out in the streets condemning these attacks!

When a Muslim stands accused of a high profile crime, it inevitably triggers a debate in the Western media on the nature of all Muslims. The discourse on both the left and right is pervaded by the implicit theory that Muslims are less than autonomous people. They are assumed to have an almost telepathic connection with each other, and so must denounce every crime that any fellow Muslim commits — if, that is, they want to validate their own humanity. According to this construct, all Muslims are engaged in an ongoing, unspoken battle with their own barbarism; the only hope that remains is that they may choose to follow a more “civilized way of life.” This is absurd, of course, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a mainstream conviction.

Ultimately, if Muslims submit to these xenophobic expectations, no apology or condemnation will ever be enough. Al-Azhar University, founded in 970 CE, considered by many to be the foremost institution of Islamic jurisprudence, has denounced the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, calling it “criminal,” so has the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a long list of Muslim scholars from various Islamic backgrounds. Makes you wonder: Is there a quota to be met? Will it take 500 scholars? 5,000? How long will all Muslims be asked to answer for the actions of a few?

The violence of a handful of people is now being used to further otherize and castigate six million French Muslims, a large, vibrant, and diverse community with — needless to say — no connection to these individuals. Muslims in France are denied the right to be French, and denied the opportunity to mourn a tragedy that affects them as much as any other French citizen. But this is the Muslims’ dilemma: regardless what they do, they remain foreigners in the eyes of the world, no matter where they call home.

In “(Mis)Representing Islam,” author John E. Richardson, citing Bobby Sayyid, notes that “[t]he orientalist approach to Islam can be summarised as essentialist, empiricist and historicist; it impoverishes the rich diversity of Islam by producing an essentialising caricature.” From anti-Sharia legislation in the United States, the ban of the hijab from French public service, and the Swiss minaret referendum, the opposition to all public manifestations of Islam has been aggressive. Institutionalized discrimination has branded Muslims as culturally inferior; the racialization of Islam has amplified structural racism, and constructed a Muslim Other in the process. The multifaceted Muslim communities, each with their own communal histories, have been violently and willfully ignored, in favor of a more identifiable, homogeneous Muslim adversary — the “Us and Them” dialectic.

A gendered stereotype has been manufactured, consisting of brown, patriarchal, irrational men, and veiled, docile, and subjugated women; the existence of the former is remedied by way of bombing campaigns and military occupations, and the persecution of the latter is used to justify the introduction of violent, destabilizing “liberation” operations. Both depictions inspire anti-immigration rhetoric and policies.

The racialization of Islam, as described by Khyati Y. Joshi in “The Racialization of Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism in the United States,” has led to the dehumanization of Muslims “by political leaders who a generation ago were demonizing “yellow reds” (that is, the East and Southeast Asian communists against whom the Korean and Vietnam Wars were fought).” Written in 2006, Joshi’s article describes the impact of the editorial cartoon, and how it functions as a tool to animalize and exceptionalize the identities and actions of those who are Muslim:

“Hundreds of cartoons have vilified Osama bin Laden and his allies in ways that both draws upon and exacerbate hackneyed images of the Semitic, Muslim villain. Like the mid-century cartoons of the Japanese emperor, the figures are exaggerated — usually with a large turban, protrusive nose, and beady eyes — all stereotypical “Arabic” features often found represented in the media. As a result, U.S. society and culture tends to ascribe collective guilt on an entire ethnic group, just as it did half a century ago with respect to Japanese Americans, by associating these stereotypically Arab features with the acts committed by al-Qaeda.

Such simplistic stereotypes are further perpetuated by the media’s decision to use “Islamic” as the adjective of choice: “Islamic terrorists,” “Islamic militants.” By contrast, killers, such as the “anti-abortion activists” Paul Hill and Michael Griffin, are described not merely as “Christian” but “radical Christian” or “Christian extremist” or dissociated from Christianity entirely by the use of more theologically-neutral adjectives like “anti-abortion.” The media’s willingness to acknowledge that Christianity is not inherently murderous, despite Hill’s and Griffin’s actions, shows an attention to nuance not equally applied to Muslims.”

Again, politicians and members of the press are bringing back the tired debate over a supposed “clash of civilizations” — a modern, superior way of life in the throes of battle against a regressive, archaic society with an unassimilable ideology. Unless Muslims reject their own identities, and accordingly their visible existence, they will be denied access to social spaces and public life. The rejection of one’s identity, in this case, involves an anxious dissociation from all elements that are perceived as foreign to Western societies, or extremist in the case of violence, in the form of apologies and condemnations. The stipulation that Muslims, specifically, must denounce these violent elements implies that Muslims are inherently guilty and that in order to join the fold of civility, and of humanity, they must dramatically proclaim — on mountain high, in droves, waving flags and proclaiming their unshakeable allegiance to the state — that they are against any and all violence perpetuated by those identifying, or being identified as, Muslim.

On the other side of things, it is now the norm for many Muslims to go through a set of emotional stages when tragedies similar to what transpired most recently in France occur. From the heart-racing, please-don’t-let-it-be-a-Muslim stage; to rummaging through a laundry list of articles, arguing against the media’s blatant double standards; to the long-winded statements of dissociation, which regularly, and unintentionally, further the Good Muslim and Bad Muslim archetypes: I am not them/Islam is not this/They are not of us.

To be a Muslim today means to be asked to apologize for something one had absolutely no involvement in — to be held guilty and otherized for the crimes of others.

Comments

Except the Midle-eastern jews, the other jews are not really racially Semites,
as western antisemitism became a shame in Europe after WW2,
a new semite had to be found to insult and dispise,the Arabs who are really semitic
replaced this old aryan and celtic racial hate, the legally allowed new official left antisemitism
that Charlie Hebdo used as much as they could to keep its paper survive untill...!!!

for centuries the west has KILLED/SLAUGHTERED/RAPED/PILLAGED our lands
where is the "I am sorry"
I condemn

come back after the west has PAID THE PRICE.

In a nutshell: Islam has replaced communism as the 'enemy', to justify the very existence of the Military Industrial Security Complex.

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