CHINA, INDIA AND BURMA: ISLAMOPHOBIA’S NEXT FRONTIER

ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ISLAMOPHOBES IN THE WEST VERSUS ISLAMOPBHOBES IN CHINA AND INDIA?

A key characteristic of being an Islamophobe in the West is to be as controversial, outrageous and wildly provocative as possible, by making statements that create immediate shock value so as to cut through the many voices in the mainstream and online media today. This much is quite obvious.

In China however, there is almost zero interest in participating in broad, sweeping, and ridiculous generalisations of ordinary Muslims and Islam nor does the government peddle opportunistic misinformed notions to generate media attention (although the latter point could be technically argued given the nationwide propagandist attitude of the Chinese government against Islam and ordinary Muslims).

Nevertheless (in China), there is an entire government apparatus that is responsible for keeping media attention on Muslims to as little as possible so that they can simply get on with their persecution of ordinary Muslims in China, old and young.

In India meanwhile, the purpose of faith-baiting and peddling misinformed notions about ordinary Muslims and Islam on TV, online and in print newspapers is just as much opportunistic.

However in India this has little to do with advertising and TV ratings as in the West but more to do with the swaying vote-bank political parties salivate after.

By alarming ordinary Indian citizens with exaggerated fears and wholly decontextualized theses about ordinary Muslims and Islam, religious tension stoking politicians make mountain out of moles or out of issues with arch-rival Pakistan and territorial issues related to Kashmir by relying on right-wing populism, sourced directly from the concerted radical Hindu majoritarian playbook.

BUT INDIA TREAT ITS MUSLIMS WELL.

“Nearly 100,000 people, mostly Muslim civilians, have been killed and thousands have disappeared during the armed revolt and subsequent military operations since 1989 in Kashmir”. (Source: Hundreds arrested in Kashmir ahead of Modi visit by Baba Umar, 4 November 2015, Aljzeera.com) India is also in violation of at least 18 UN resolutions on Kashmir that has promised right of self-determination to Kashmiris.

In a report published by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) made public in May 2016 which caused an uproar, India was placed on a Tier two ranking, which is where it has been since 2009, USCIRF noted since “the largest democratic country of the world “is on a negative trajectory” in terms of religious freedom.

It added, “Minority communities (in India), especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups”, according to the findings in the report.

From the destruction of the Babri Mosque by Hindu nationalists and their saffron-clad terrorism that led directly to the 1992 Bombay Riots to the state-sanctioned Gujarat massacre in 2002, many ordinary Indian Muslim citizens feel disillusioned about the “Indian government’s willingness to tolerate, even encourage, the Hindu hard-liners within the ruling administration” (Source: The Costs of Hindu, Extremism, The Editorial Board, 3 November 2015, New York Times), much to the detriment of other minorities (including Christians) and not just Muslims living in India today.

In fact, in 2007, award-winning Tehelka magazine released “The Truth: Gujarat 2002,” a report which implicated the state government in the violence, and claimed that what had been called a spontaneous act of revenge was, in reality, a “state-sanctioned pogrom”.

According to Human Rights Watch, the violence in Gujarat in 2002 was pre-planned, and the police and state government participated in the violence. (Source: Violence against Muslims in India – Wikipedia)

 Then there is the systematic social and economic discrimination Muslims face daily on TV, online as well as at work so much so that some are forced to assume fake identities especially when it comes to securing menial jobs where worker’s identity documents are not usually sought.

Muslims face discrimination in finding homes in mixed colonies and in finding work . . . and often still encounter barely disguised bigotry in the workplace (The challenges of being Muslim in India, 6 June 2015, Humaira Ansari, Hindustan Times).

In a separate article that goes into somewhat more detail about further challenges Muslims face from a young age, the writer explains how, “As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason.

Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans”. (Source: For India’s Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party’s Victory by Gardiner Harris, May 16 2014, New York Times)

 In a brave investigative report by the Guardian in October 2016, the journalist produced an in-depth article highlighting the gross human rights violation by the so-called largest democracy in the world:

Since July [2016], when the killing of a young militant leader sparked a furious civilian uprising across the Kashmir valley, the Indian state has responded with singular ruthlessness, killing more than 90 people. Most shocking of all has been the breaking up of demonstrations with “non- lethal” pellet ammunition, which has blinded hundreds of Kashmiri civilians . . . In four months, 17,000 adults and children have been injured, nearly five thousand have been arrested, and an entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir . . . Indeed, the Indian state, aided by a near-militaristic TV news media, has used the Uri attack and its aftermath to cover up a surge of killings, maimings and blindings in one of the longest-running conflicts in the world . . . These weapons discharge hundreds of small metal pellets, or birdshot, capable of piercing the eye . . . As the uprising continued, the armed forces, by their own admission, red nearly 4,000 cartridges at stone- throwing demonstrators, crowds protesting against police brutality, and even onlookers. This means that they sent, by one recent estimate, 1.3m metal balls hurtling towards public gatherings predominantly made up of young unarmed people . . . Children as young as four and five now have multiple pellets in their retinas, blinding them partially, or fully, for life. At the start of September, doctors at Kashmir’s main hospital reported that on average, one person had their eyes ruptured by pellets every other hour since 9 July. “It means 12 eye surgeries per day,” one doctor told a local newspaper. “It is shocking.” . . . On 12 July, the fourth day of the protests, the state government, which is run by a controversial coalition between Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a local ally, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), finally issued its first official statement on the use of the so-called “non-lethal” pellet guns. A spokesperson for the government, representing the PDP, described its position to the media: “We disapprove of it . . . But we will have to persist with this necessary evil till we find a non-lethal alternative.” . . .There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and willfully shooting at people to blind them . . . At the end of August, according to data obtained by one of India’s national newspapers, nearly 6,000 civilians had been injured, and at least 972 of them had suffered injuries to their eyes . . . According to official records at SMHS, the main hospital in Srinagar, 570 people sought treatment after their eyeballs were ruptured by metal pellets. Ophthalmologists at the hospital performed more surgeries in three days – from 10 to 12 July – than they had in the past three years. Many of the wounded were protesters, but not all. Not one of them deserved to be robbed of their sight . . .

In the 1990s, India came down hard on a wide-spread uprising in the Kashmir valley – killing, torturing, disappearing, and imprisoning thousands. Some estimates put the number of people killed since 1989 at 70,000. Some 8,000 non-combatants are thought to have been disappeared, and 6,000 are believed to have been buried in mass graves. Human rights reports have identified thousands of cases of torture, including shocking techniques such as “simulated drowning, striping flesh with razor blades and piping petrol into anuses” . . .

In 2011, months after the uprising in Tahrir Square that toppled an Egyptian dictator, a young police lieutenant, Mohamed el-Shenawy, became infamous for ring pellets into the eyes of protesters against Egypt’s military government. His exemplary skill at blinding civilians earned him the nickname the “Eye Sniper”, and his notoriety as a symbol of ongoing state brutality eventually led to a three-year jail sentence . . . Will India prosecute its own eye snipers? Or outlaw the use of these weapons? . . .The secessionist Kashmiri, the impure Dalit, the traitorous beef-eating Muslim, the woman who speaks her mind, the anti-national journalist, the dissenting writer. Any voices who might call for a ban on these “non-lethal” guns are certain to be ignored . . . The wanton demonisation of the Kashmiri Muslim, a project that some media organisations in India take particular pleasure in, was perhaps fully realised even then. It certainly is now, when thousands, fed on a daily diet of nationalist fury, take to social media to celebrate the killing, maiming, and blinding of young Kashmiris . . . How did India get here? How is it all right for a constitutionally democratic and secular, modern nation to blind scores of civilians in a region it controls? Not an authoritarian state, not a crackpot dictatorship, not a rogue nation or warlord outside of legal and ethical commitments to international statutes, but a democratic country, a member of the comity of nations . . .The harsh repression of Kashmiri protests, the Nobel prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen declared in July, is “the biggest blot on India’s democracy” . . . (Source: India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this the world’s first mass blinding?, by Mirza Waheed, 8 November 2016, The Guardian)

WHAT ABOUT CHINA? WHY WOULD THE MEDIA IGNORE MUSLIMS IN CHINA?

No one today talks about Muslims in China as much as we should, in part due to lack of media interests from global news giants and in part because of the draconian stranglehold by the Chinese atheist government that ensures as little as possible news trickles out, on matters related to Uighurs (pronounced “wee-ghur”) in China by restricting journalists access in the region via ubiquitous checkpoints as well as other means.

In the rare event a news report leaks outside China and goes viral, journalists are accused of political bias for “reporting on Beijing’s efforts to equate ethnic violence in the Western Muslim region of Xinjiang with global terrorism”. (Source: China says new restrictions to come on terrorism reporting, 28 December 2015, Associated Press).

Alternatively, the visa accreditation is not renewed and journalists are accused of “violating unspecified rules and regulation”. (Source: Al Jazeera shuts English bureau after China visa denial, 8 May 2012, Reuters)

HOW ARE MUSLIMS TREATED IN CHINA?

In Xinjiang, China, government officials, public servants, teachers and students are told in clear terms to be “unyielding Marxist atheists”. They are not allowed to fast and forced fed if necessary. Men are not allowed to grow beards while their women are told not to wear the Hijab.

The rationale provided by the Chinese government too, seems like a watered down version of what one would astonishingly hear in France today:

“The ruling party says religion and education should be kept separate and students should not be subjected to ‘religious influences’, although this rule is rarely enforced for children of Han Chinese, who – if they have a religion – are mostly Buddhist, Taoist or Christian. (Source: China bans Muslims from fasting during Ramadan, say Uighur community by Aftab Ali, 17 June 2015, The Independent).

 In March 2017, a new draconian law was passed, banning a wide range of acts including wearing veils or “abnormal” beards, without specifying the term. It will also be illegal to refuse to watch state television and listen to state radio, or prevent children from receiving national education – activities deemed “manifestations” of extremism, according to state run media, illustrating the inhumane stranglehold of religious rights in China.

WHO ARE THESE XINJIANG MUSLIMS?

Xinjiang has a large Uighur Muslim population estimated to be in the region of 20 million and is located in the resource rich region at the far West of China. In recent years if not decades, a great deal of unrest has emanated from the region. It all started when the central Chinese government tactfully started encouraging Han Chinese who were mostly non-Muslims to migrate to the region titling the geography in its favour.

In fact, the geographic manipulation started as long as seventy years ago: “In 1949, when the Communist Party swept to power in China, Han Chinese made up less than 7 percent of Xinjiang’s population: today, that number stands at 40 percent. Uighurs, at 43 percent, are [today] a minority in the region, with other, mainly Muslim ethnic groups making up the remainder”. (Source: China’s campaign for mixed marriages spreads to troubled Xinjiang by Simon Denyer, September 1, 2014, The Washington Post)

 HOW ARE MUSLIMS PERSECUTED IN CHINA?

Knife and bomb attacks in China are often planted and meticulously staged and the alleged Uighur Muslim perpetrators are stupendously rounded up within hours and instantaneously killed in a form of justice that would make anyone but the Chinese government, with a conscience cringe.

The death toll created by the Chinese security forces is also often understated by the local state controlled media, while local mosques are barred from broadcasting the call to prayer and remain under 24-hour surveillance for “hidden security threats”.

As a further example of suppression to any form of reports on the region, “Thirteen American academics were banned from China after contributing to a collection of essays about Xinjiang in 2004”. (Source: Ursula Gauthier: foreign media must fight China censorship, says expelled journalist by Tom Phillips 31 December 2015, The Guardian)

All this within a single region in China that has repeatedly blamed separatist Uighurs, citing dubious evidence for a string of terrorist attacks on civilian targets, but the group has consistently denied involvement, raising warranted questions as to who is actually behind these attacks.

The goal of the atheist government, according to the Uighur separatists in China, is to “ferment racial violence and rally public support for its suffocating security controls, illegal detentions, persecution and extra-judicial killings among Uighur Muslims in China”. (Source: Human Rights Watch)

 In the words of Brad Adams, the Asia Director of Human Rights Watch: “The Chinese are very good at putting things down and keeping a lid on them when they really want to,” (Source: 156 dead as Muslim uprising hits China by Claire Soares, 7 July 2009, The Independent), using its phalanxes of police and armored vehicles rumbling through the streets of the regional capital.

In a separate report, Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, has written: “Since 2012, law enforcement forces have killed hundreds of Uighurs in what authorities claimed were counter-terrorism operations. But whether those killed or convicted were actually responsible for the violence . . . will remain unknown to the outside world”. (Source: As China joins the anti-Isis brigade, must we keep quiet about the Uighurs? by Peter Popham, 21 November 2015, The Independent), exacerbating an endless series of repression and violence in the region.

WHY ARE WESTERN NATIONS AND MUSLIM- MAJORITY COUNTRIES SILENT ABOUT MUSLIM PERSECUTION?

Rarely will we hear any form of formal condemnation from the centers of power in the West let alone from any Muslim-majority countries, as everyone understands we are today dealing with none other than the twin-Asian equivalent of the Roman empire that is, China, which executes thousands of people each year but considers the number of death sentences to be a state secret and never releases them; and India which has banned over 11,000 NGOs from operating in the country including the likes of Greenpeace on dubious charges – and thus, political morality takes a backseat in the dungeons of eternal obscurity, especially given the massive trade flows involved from China and India.

Given such, no Western leader or let alone Middle Eastern autocrat in his or her right mind would risks the severing of economic and diplomatic ties for the voiceless ordinary Muslims who have themselves been sidelined in their own countries, let alone China and India which are increasingly hostile to ordinary Muslims and other minorities.

Most worryingly and curiously not as extensively covered, the only voice that ironically called for change is none other than the deranged, irrational and misguided leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (as of July 2017, presumably dead). The man responsible for contributing to the ever-growing anti-Muslim bigotry in the West, declared in July 2014 that China is a country where “Muslim rights are forcibly seized”. Twisted irony indeed.

Most remarkably and as part of its ingenious hiring strategy and appeal, ISIS released for perhaps the first time in its short blood-thirsty history a statement void of bloodshed and instead of focusing on its infamous series of beheadings, public executions and irrational killings, it (ISIS) tactfully expressed public concern for their so-called, co-religionists in China, calling on Hui and Uighur Muslims in the country to “wake up” to overcome “a century of slavery”, a feat not a single Muslim-majority country has managed to achieve to-date, and yet we have self-anointed “foreign-policy experts” in the West today scratching their heads as to why some misguided Muslims fall prey to the strategic yet devious recruiting techniques at ISIS?

HOW WOULD ONE SUM UP THE SITUATION IN BURMA?

Burma (Myanmar) is one place, which everyone talks about in passing but no one does anything constructive about the genocidal situation in the country. Needless to say, zero airstrikes or Iraq-like invasion to be expected but more donor conventions and conferences by Muslim and non-Muslim countries to discuss the plight of the Muslim minorities in Burma and wooden statements vapourising into oblivion.

WESTERN NATIONS HAVE FOR DECADES APPLIED SANCTIONS ON BURMA. ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?

While that was true in the past, the European Union suspended all non-military sanctions against Burma in 2010. In May 2013, the Obama administration decided that a 1996 ban on granting U.S. entry visas to the former Burma’s military rulers, their business partners and immediate families was no longer necessary after two years of reforms”. (Source: U.S. lifts more sanctions on Myanmar to support reforms by Paul Eckert and Peter Cooney, Reuters, May 2, 2013)

The fact that these sanctions were being lifted during the height of violence, firmly backed by the then-government, directed at Muslims in 2012 and 2013 was all the more shocking. Myanmar’s rebrand monk Ashin Wirathu, who rose to prominence following his anti-Muslim rhetoric led the deadly riots in 2012 and 2013, in which hundreds died and an estimated 90,000 people were displaced by the violence.

In a statement from the group’s Washington headquarters, Jennifer Quigley, executive director of the advocacy group U.S. Campaign for Burma said: “The Burmese military and security forces continue to carry out serious human rights violations against ethnic minorities in Burma” and called for further investigation into “the Burmese government’s system of impunity and security forces’ role in the ongoing escalation of anti- Muslim violence and ethnic cleansing”.

WHO ARE THE ROHINGYA MUSLIMS?

The Rohingya Muslims are the indigenous people of Southwestern Myanmar, eking out a living in the Rakhine State. Members of the 1.1 million group, who identify themselves by the term Rohingya, are seen by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Today they have been herded into detention and internment camps, stripped of their valuables, denied freedom of movement and left impoverished and lack even basic healthcare.

Rakhine State, one of Burma’s poorest regions, is home to an estimated 500,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims, the majority of whom remain confined to temporary camps following waves of deadly violence in 2012 between Buddhists and Muslims that left at least three hundred Rohingya Muslims dead and whole towns razed. Thousands of lives were destroyed. Astonishingly, no one has ever been prosecuted.

Ostensibly separated “for their own safety” behind barbed wire and checkpoints, a de facto apartheid exists in Rakhine – a state where the Rohingyas (or “Bengalis” as they are pejoratively labelled and were required to self-identify as in last year’s census) make up a third of the population. The state capital Sittwe is now totally Rohingya-free: more than 140,000 have been forced into squalid refugee camps – open air prisons in all but name – on the city’s fringes. The UN describes the camps as “some of the worst it has seen”. (Source: The Most Persecuted Minority in the World by Damian Collins, 26 June 2015, Huffington Post)

 Construction of mosques and religious schools in the region was banned in 1962, when military rule was first established in the country. Twenty years later in 1982 the Citizenship Law was amended that effectively led to the Rohingyas losing their citizenship, rendering millions who were born and raised in the country stateless, nameless, and protection-less. (Source: Mosques, Madrasas to be Razed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, 21 September 2016, Voice of America)

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a June 2016 report the Rohingyas are excluded from a number of professions and need special paperwork to access hospitals, which has resulted in delays and deaths of babies and their mothers during childbirth.

AT LEAST MUSLIM PERSECUTION IN PLACES LIKE BURMA AND CHINA ARE REPORTED.

It is impossible to imagine our attention requiring such a high thresh- old were it a Christian minority group suffering a similar threat of imminent ethnic destruction . . . Compare for example how energised the commentariat and wider public became last year [in 2014] when Iraq’s Christian Yazidi’s entered ISIL’s barbaric sights. Under no circumstances would it be tolerated. The denunciations of “never again” that followed Rwanda and Srebrenica were dusted o and received a thorough airing. (Source: The Most Persecuted Minority in the World by Damian Collins, 26 June 2015, Huffington Post)

Then again, the same could be said of other governments (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) that do little else for the victims of anti-Muslim violence and persecution in China and Burma, no doubt the next frontiers for Islamophobia, albeit of a different kind.

NOBEL LAUREATE AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS REALLY KEEN ON HELPING MUSLIMS.

Despite the well-known atrocities and media reports about such decades-long injustices, nothing in diplomatic circles has led to any meaningful progress. Yet the merry-go-round continues. Even the inexplicable silence of Nobel laureate and current State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, otherwise a “champion of the dispossessed and distressed” has been eerily deafening.

On the first anniversary of her taking “power” in November 2016, some media reports went too far defending her, saying the military in Burma retains a leading role in national politics, appointing the three most important ministers – defence, home a airs and border a airs and controls a quarter of all members of the country’s parliament and local assemblies. Given such, there is only so much Suu Kyi can do, they claimed.

How would one however explain her display of discomfort in 2013 when interviewed by a leading BBC journalist who courageously raised more than a few uncomfortable questions about the violence against Muslims: According to an excerpt in the book by Peter Popham, The Lady And The Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi And Burma’s Struggle For Freedom, Suu Kyi was so incensed about being challenged by renowned BBC presenter Mishal Husain in October 2013 about violence against Muslims in Arakan state and her refusal to endorse the reports by Human Rights Watch, she was reportedly heard to say angrily o -air, “No-one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.”. (Source: “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim”: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Rohingya problem by Max Fisher, 28 March 2016,Vox)

 More recently in late January 2017, a key Muslim adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, was shot and killed point-blank by an assassin at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar. Not only was Ko Ni’s death celebrated on social media by some conservative Buddhists, Suu Kyi did not attend the lawyer’s funeral or meet with the family, demonstrating her conspicuous silence time and again.

Therefore, it remains an outrage the Nobel committee hasn’t yet criticised Suu Kyi (as she was once celebrated) by rescinding the medal let alone demand the return of the prize money.

BUT MUSLIM PERSECUTION IS A PROBLEM IN MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES TOO.

Muslims do face various forms of hardship in practicing Islam in ironically, some Muslim-majority countries but this is more of a case of religious rights or religious persecution than Islamophobia. In the case of Turkmenistan like most other parts of Central Asia for example, mosques and Muslim clergy are state-sponsored and financed and therefore sermons are controlled. In Kyrgyzstan, Muslims are prohibited from wearing the Hijab. In Tajikistan, female students and teachers are expelled from school for wearing the hijab and women are prevented from praying in mosques.

Worse still in Uzbekistan, police are known to plant narcotics and ammunition on citizens with “outward signs of religious observance, such as traditional clothing or beards” to justify their arrests and torture, despite being a 90 percent Muslim-majority country. Eerily put in simple terms, Trump can seem moderate by comparison to some living in certain Central Asian countries or Muslim-majority countries.

MUSLIM-MAJORITY GOVERNMENTS ARE DOING THEIR BEST TO FIGHT ISLAMOPHOBIA.

Utterly false. Not a single Muslim-majority government is doing anything substantial beyond standard rhetoric – condemning violence, diplomatic initiatives through dialogue, publishing reports and organising international conferences to promote interfaith tolerance. Toothless Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) workshops to formulate “Media strategies in countering Islamophobia”, expert meetings aimed at defining means of “combating negative stereotyping and violence against persons based on their religion” and releasing final pledges and declarations at the end of high pro le conferences to “. . . work harder to make sure that Islam’s true image is better projected” are all useful but nowhere near enough what Muslim-majority governments and individual Muslim philanthropists are capable of doing to counter mounting waves of widespread and growing Islamophobia today.

(Note: This section was written in early August 2017, a few weeks before the Burmese government carried out its genocidal atrocities (burning villages, shooting fleeing refugees and laying landmines at the border, killing well over 400 Rohingyas and causing over 600,000 Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh and elsewhere)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

ANTI-IMMIGRANT CITIZENS OF THE WEST

THE 2014 SYDNEY SIEGE WAS ALL ABOUT ISLAMIC TERRORISM.

What do the actions of a widely acknowledged mentally ill patient with a history of certified mental illness who, had a Muslim name have to do with Islam and why are crimes committed by people of other back- ground rarely if ever, linked to their faiths?

When an individual with a Muslim name is responsible for 2-3 deaths, it is mislabeled as “Islamic terrorism” but when a white American goes on a shooting spree killing 6 people at around the same time in a different time zone, he is called “gunman on the loose”.

During the Sydney siege [in Australia], a shooting spree incident unfolded in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA that left 6 dead . . . International media agencies described the perpetrator, the now-deceased Bradley William Stone, simply as “a suspect”, “a gunman on the loose” and even “a Montgomery man”. No hashtag campaign was necessary to assure white people that the rest of the world will ride with them to keep them safe . . . The same can be observed of the reaction to the mass killings committed by the Norwegian Anders Breivik in 2011. While Breivik had claimed himself a baptised Christian in his 1,500-page manifesto, the world did not expect Christians to condemn terrorism in the same way Muslims had. (Source: Why #illridewithyou is an ill ride by Nazry Bahrawi on 18 Dec 2014, Aljazeera.com)

As it turns out the next day, this “suspect” or “gunman on the loose” was an ex-Marine, Iraq War veteran: An Iraq War veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives in a shooting and slashing frenzy was found dead of self-inflicted stab wounds Tuesday in the woods of suburban Philadelphia, ending a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed schools and left people on edge . . . Suspected gunman Bradley William Stone, 35, smashed through a glass door at his ex-wife’s apartment . . . before ring multiple shots and killing her. He then fled with their two children . . . to the two nearby communities of Lansdale and Souderton, where he killed five people and severely injured one more. (Source: Ex-Marine wanted in 6 killings commits suicide by Kathy Matheson and Sean Carlin on 16 December 2014, Associated Press)

Just over two years later in January 2017, a 26-year-old man drove his car into a crowded Melbourne street, killing ve people including a child. Travelling around an intersection then speeding down a footpath on Bourke Street, smashing through pedestrians, another 15 people were injured, with four in critical condition, including an infant. Dimitrious Gargasoulas, a Greek Christian, had a history of mental health and drug abuse and was in fact arrested by police the weekend before when he assaulted members of his family.

Yet despite the terrifying ordeal for those on the street at the time, there was no mention of the word “terror” in any of the news report when he was no more mentally disturbed than Monis, who was responsible for two deaths including one ricochet police bullet that was meant for Monis but killed a hostage instead. Why can’t the same standard be applied to all forms of violence instead of pointing the finger at Muslims and Islam every time an individual with a Muslim name is involved in an act of violence?

Lastly as a relatively recent example in July 2017, a masked catholic gunman burst into a high-end casino with an M4 automatic assault rifle and set re to a gaming room in Manila, Philippines, leading to the deaths of 36 people who died from inhaling smoke. Lo and behold the authorities insisted it was not a terrorist attack although one can’t imagine if this was any less terrifying that what is often labeled a terrorist attack, skewing the perception further that any violent act undertaken by a Muslim (regardless of mental health) is always about terrorism.

BUT ASYLUM SEEKERS LIKE MONIS FROM THE SYDNEY SIEGE IN DECEMBER 2014 WERE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS, HAD GONE ON GOVERNMENT WELFARE FOR YEARS, ONLY TO HAVE THEM KILL HIS OWN FELLOW CITIZENS. ORDINARY CITIZENS CAN’T BE BLAMED FOR WANTING TO HALT IMMIGRATION.

Is it logical to look at the one person who was a certified psychiatric patient seeking counseling who committed an act of violence and ignore the hundreds of thousand of people whose lives countries like Australia has transformed by admitting them as citizens giving them a life that would have been impossible elsewhere? While a number of them may be criminals or living in impoverished neighbourhoods, crime does not have a skin colour or race.

Unless of course what is being said is that every one of those asylum seekers is a criminal today and no white American, white European, white Australian or white Canadian is in prison today or that there is no such thing as a violence prone white person and that white Aussies are all white collar professionals? The issue isn’t about an asylum seeker gone rogue but a mentally disturbed citizen whose case was being looked after or in this case, neglected by the Australia healthcare system let alone, the much-touted taxpayer funded, billion dollar state-interventionist police surveillance in the Western world. Yet despite all the fancy software and hardware, the Australian government failed to prevent the horrible incident.

IF THE SYDNEY SIEGE DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM, WHY
 BRING AN ISIS FLAG AND STICK IT UP IN THE WINDOW AND KILL PEOPLE IN THE NAME OF ALLAH?

There was nothing normal about the delusional Monis. Dressed as an Iranian cleric, he was a Shia and initially held up the ISIS (self-professed Sunni group) flag upside down at the cafe. To understand the Middle East, you need to understand how politically sectarian (Sunni versus Shia) the conflict has become today. Put another way, the fighting is in essence a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, not only was Monis deviating from Islam but clearly the group (ISIS) he was claiming to support was massacring Shias by the hundreds at the time of the incident so to say he was confused is to say the least about the state of his psychotic mind.

Last but not least and just because a certified mental case invokes the name of Allah or misquotes from the Qur’an while committing an act of violence does not make it Islam’s fault unless you believe a pedophile priest having sex with a choir boy while exclaiming “oh my god” makes it the fault of Christianity or a bank robber who wears a George W Bush mask while robbing a bank makes it the fault of the President of the United States. 

ASYLUM SEEKERS, REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS ARE BIG THREATS
TO WESTERN DEMOCRACIES. ALSO, WHATEVER IS HAPPENING IN THE MIDDLE EAST DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ORDINARY CITIZENS OF THE WEST.

The following article written by a journalist at the Independent, who scored a bull’s eye on why “we” can’t afford to abandon asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants after being responsible for all the pillaging over the last century, says it best:

After years of ferocious migrant-bashing, the national psyche has been successfully reprogrammed: millions of our citizens truly believe that humans from the old Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and the Middle East are flocking to get at those gorgeous council flats and big, fat, state handouts. So easy isn’t it? Just blame those who can’t answer back. Don’t think too deeply about why there is this movement of peoples and how they feel before, during and after they leave their homelands. Fear is a terrible thing. It depletes compassion . . .

In 2011, David Cameron, on a visit to Pakistan, accepted that Britain was responsible for many of the world’s intractable problems. It was the first and only time I recall a British leader accepting that colonialism left fractures and stains, which have led to discord and failed states. (Margaret Thatcher, as well as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, extolled the Empire and the subjugation of millions.) . . . No, you can’t just blame white people for post-colonial chaos and failures. Since independence, leaders have almost all been incompetent, corrupt and callous . . . Dictatorships and one-party rule, profligacy and greed, have despoiled potentially productive nations, turning them into hopeless, dependent, unsustainable entities. But the case against old European imperialists is strong and indubitable . . .

Then there is the continuing support this country gives to oppressive regimes, the arms we sell, and the wars we have launched in the past 20 years. Iraqis never chose to become resented refugees, nor did Afghans. Libya is now the export depot for hungry, frightened, distressed people. The allies who bombed the place have gone and feel no obligation for the mess they left. Many Isis insurgents are from Saddam Hussein’s old Baathist army. True, we did not intervene in Syria, but for decades Bashar al-Assad was propped up by us, as was his equally heinous father.

Many of the migrants trying to get into Europe come from these places. They are hated perhaps because they remind us of our bad policies and actions. Are these then our noble British values? . . . The EU, IMF and World Bank must transform the system; our leaders need to tell more truths about the dispossessed. Xenophobia, withdrawal of welfare and gunboats won’t stop the tide of humanity coming to our shores. They come because they have no choice. But the West does. (Source: Don’t blame migrants – the West helped to create their plight by Yasmin Alibhai Brown on 24 May 2015, The Independent)

From the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a Jew who was mugged when everyone else left him by the wayside to the woman at the well who used her pitcher to give a thirsty Christ (PBUH) water (that is, woman stopped to help this stranger), the Bible too, has teachings that should not be sidelined. In an excerpt from a notable Christian in the UK and a true believer in Gospel values who had a highly respect- able position on refugees, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker in April 2015 said: Britain has a moral imperative to accept refugees from conflicts in which it has participated. After a week in which the death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe grew to 1,700 so far this year, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said there was a duty to treat the survivors with compassion. In a piece for the Observer published online, he writes: “They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities. A political rhetoric that characterises them as willful criminals rather than helpless victims is as unworthy as it is untrue.” The UK’s pivotal role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq prompted a sectarian war that the UN said had forced two million Iraqis to flee the country, an involvement that ran alongside the 13-year Afghanistan war and was followed by the 2011 attacks on Libya, both of which precipitated significant regional instability and migration. Walker writes: “The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land. (Source: Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars on 25 April 2015, Mark Townsend, The Guardian)

IMMIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM WAR-TORN COUNTRIES ARE NOT EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY.

The seeds of intolerance to the influx of Muslim immigrants were planted, if not reinforced well over a decade ago. Europe’s pivotal role in the 2003 illegal Iraq invasion led to a sectarian war that forced at least two million Iraqis to flee the country (and directly created conditions that led to the birth of ISIS). The 2001 “War on Terror” in Afghanistan did no less in producing its own population of displaced people. Europe’s beleaguered role in the 2011 attacks on Libya created yet another dimension of regional instability and cross-regional migration, while the dictatorships of both Bashar al-Assad and his father, long propped up for decades by US and European countries created another millions of refugees that are today approaching the shores of Europe. Nonetheless, the majority of terror victims . . . possibly as high as 95 percent, are themselves Muslims. It is no wonder, then, that Muslims make up a huge part of refugee crisis, which has seen 6 million Syrians, half of them children, fleeing the civil war; 100,000 Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State, among many other desperate people, risking their lives to escape the turmoil of the Middle East. (Source: Together, we can conquer Isis’s savage worldview by Deeyah Khan, 22 November 2015, The Guardian)

The fact that Europe competes with America in selling weapons to oppressive regimes and the weapons used in those regional conflicts created floods of legitimate, frightened let alone distressed refugees fleeing the dreadful combination of indiscriminate attacks in the form of barrel bombs, beheadings, suffocating sieges and abhorrent atrocities by ISIS is not likely to be mentioned either when a populist party with a strongly anti-immigration agenda [targeting a blue-collar and provincial middle-class] electorate tries to win the next round of local or regional elections in Europe. For instance, French arms sales to countries in the region [Africa and the Middle East, for example] neither take into account their human rights record nor the fact that those countries contribute to the war. (Source: Don’t let ISIL divide France by Alan Gresh, 15 Nov 2015, Aljazeera.com)

STILL, A SIMPLE PARTIAL SOLUTION TO TERRORISM MAY BE TO BAN MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS.

When times were good, lets open the door to immigrants and let them take up all the menial jobs, as we are or were too good for these jobs. Their children are brought up and educated in our countries, pay taxes and speak the local language better than their immigrant parents and yet they are never one of us but following the decline of the manufacturing industry and the growing urgency for austerity, we suddenly feel they ought to “go back home” as they are not as white as the indigenous population are or suddenly, have not assimilated as well as they should.

Also, in almost every case of a major terror attack since 9/11, the perpetrator has either been an American or European born and bred or someone who was already living in the country legally.

Therefore, why do right-wing xenophobic politicians like “Dutch Trump” Geert Wilders and the wretched lady Le Pen point their finger at refugees every time an act of terrorism occurs when an overwhelming majority of the suicide bombers who struck Paris in 2015 were French nationals?

Even the 9/11 terrorists were not refugees. They entered the U.S. by obtaining tourist and student visas, which are far easier to get than going through the arduous procedures involved in asylum seeking.

MUSLIMS DON’T CONTRIBUTE, INTEGRATE AND ASSIMILIATE INTO WESTERN SOCIETY SUCH AS IN FRANCE OR THE UNITED STATES.

“There are several million Muslims in France, and the vast majority are integrated into French society and for those who aren’t, it’s less a question of religion than their social and economic situation”. (Source: Claude Dargent, Professor at Sciences Po University in Paris)

In the astute words of Felix Marquardt, a Parisian Muslim and cofounder of the al-Kawakibi Foundation:

“Being Muslim in France is not easy, it’s a complicated condition especially if you are a woman wearing a veil, you are a victim of discrimination and if you’re a man [with a Muslim name or beard] you find it hard to get a job”. (Source: France likely to close more than 100 mosques by Anealla Safdar, 3 December 2015, Aljazeera.com)

 In Britain, Masuma Rahim, a clinical psychologist says its best: For too long, Muslims have been cast as a risk to public safety and security. We have been vilified by politicians and the popular press; we have been described as “terrorist sympathisers” and accused of being unwilling to integrate into British society. But what those accusers fail to understand is that it is difficult to integrate into any society if you’re permanently being cast as a threat to the world around you, and if the solution to that threat – a “final solution”, as Katie Hopkins might term it – is for your places of worship to be monitored and your schools to be investigated on the most spurious of charges. (Source: Dear Theresa May, come and meet some Muslims. It might help if you knew us, 20 June 2017, Masuma Rahim, The Guardian)

Therefore, this persistent idea that Muslims are not assimilating is clearly not true. Surveys by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Pew Research Center suggest that the attitudes of U.S. Muslims about country and community are similar to those of adherents of other religions.

A Pew poll several years ago found that Muslims, more than 3-to-1, preferred to adopt American customs rather than retain their distinct identities. (Source: U.S. Muslims Are the Collateral Victims of Terror Attacks, Albert Hunt, 19 June 2016, Bloomberg)

Muslims have also made contributions to society in many ways ranging from engineering, culinary, fashion, finance and banking, medical and sciences. While “there are many challenges including illiteracy, sectarianism and identity crises, these problems are not that much different from other communities around the world”, according to Muhammad Akhter, a doctor in Essex in a blog written for Muslim matters. (Source: What is it like to be a Muslim in Britain today?, 9 July 2014, Muslim Matters)

Working as educators, mayors, judges, lawmakers, athletes, soldiers and members of Congress, Muslim Americans constitute 1-2 percent of the population but account for about 5 percent of the country’s physicians. (Source: It’s not just Trump – the US is gripped by anti-Muslim hysteria by Moustafa Bayoumi, 14 December 2015, The Guardian)

This despite the fact that a large proportion of Muslim doctors face discrimination on a regular basis (Note: There are over 15,000 Pakistani- American physicians in America alone). In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Bioethics found that 24 percent of Muslim physicians have experienced religious discrimination in the workplace. (Source: I Thought My Ivy League Degrees Would Protect Me From Bigotry. I Was Wrong by Altaf Saadi, M.D., at Massachusetts General Hospital, 18 January 2016, Huffington Post)

Muslim Americans do not just live and work in the United States. They have given their lives too, to the country. Often overlooked in media reports, 60 Muslim innocent lives also perished at the World Trade Center. One of them was NYPD cadet and first responder, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died at the Twin Towers on 9/11. Then there are at least 14 Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after the 9/11 attacks.

Furthermore: A recent study by Duke University showed that Muslim Americans helped catch more terrorism suspects and perpetrators than the United States government itself. (Source: 10 Reasons You Should Not Fear Muslims by Omar Alnatour, 26 January 2016, Huffington Post)

In a separate 2011 study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, tips from Muslim American communities helped thwart terrorist plots in 52 of 140 cases involving Muslim Americans. This means that at least 37 percent of foiled domestic terror plots have been thwarted with the help of Muslim Americans. (Source: To Fight Terrorism, Treat Muslim-Americans With Respect by Tara Lai Quinlan and Deborah Ramirez, 8 December 2015, Huffington Post)

Therefore, there is no basis for claiming Muslims don’t integrate, contribute or assimilate into local societies in the West, at the very least no more than any other groups of immigrants in the West today.

THERE ARE NO BENEFITS TO WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS.

In an article written by Nadya Tolokonnikova, Russian member of the Pussy Riot band, rightly pointed out:  “Migrants are innovative and entrepreneurial. In the 19th century, a third of the population of Sweden, Ireland and Italy emigrated to America and other countries. The U.S. is the very best example of how dynamic a country of immigrants can be . . . (Source: I Live Without Borders, Nadya Tolokonnikova, 22 October 215, The Huffington Post)

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS WANT TO KILL ALL NON-MUSLIMS

THE WEST BELIEVES IN PEACE WHILE MUSLIMS LOVE VIOLENCE.

In comments on HBO’s Real Time, [Bill] Maher in 2015 said: “For the last 30 years, it’s been one culture that has been blowing s—t up over and over again”. (Here he meant Islam, not America, go figure.) (Source: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bill Maher? By Mike Mennonno, 23 Sept 2015, The Huffington Post)

Serving as another example of grandiose malarkey: While demagogues like Pam Geller likes to say “Civilized men can disagree while savages will kill you when they disagree” (Source: Texas shooting: Who is Pamela Geller? By Ann Colwell, 4 May 2015, CNN), is she talking about Western nations who have been responsible for far more civilian deaths than all terrorists groups combined claiming to be Muslims?

BUT MUSLIMS HATE NON-MUSLIMS AND WILL NOT MISS A CHANCE TO KILL THEM.

In December 21 2015, a group of men from al-Shabab halted a bus near the town of Mandera, Kenya. They ordered all the passengers off the bus before telling them to split into groups of Muslims and non- Muslims so that they could set aside the Christian passengers for execution. The Muslims on board refused their demands. Instead, they threw a human shield around the Christians. Brave Muslim women took o their headscarves and handed them to non-Muslims to wear for protection. Standing united, the Muslim passengers then dared the extremists to kill them too. Instead, fearing repercussion from a nearby village, these misguided zealots ed the scene of the hold-up, licking their wounds from the powerful show of solidarity, people of the world today could learn aplenty from. (Source: Muslims in Kenya offer a Christmas present to the world, 27 Dec 2015, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim & Beth Ellen Cole Al Jazeera.com)

This is not a rare event and happens more frequently than is reported by the mainstream press. In July 2017, a Filipino Muslim in the Philippines saved 64 Christians from execution by Islamist militants, after he hid them from a group of heavily armed gunmen who stormed the city of Marawi on the island in June 2017. Norodin Alonto Lucman, a Muslim former politician and traditional clan leader, opened his home to around 71 people, including 64 Christians, when they could not escape. These are two of many recent examples reported by the press.

WHY THEN DO MUSLIMS CELEBRATE 9/11?

Muslims do not celebrate 9/11. There is no evidence of this at all. While the vast majority of Muslims around the world were horrified by the scenes of the falling towers, there were no doubt pockets of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world who could not help but wonder:

How 19 random men have finally brought the horror and destruction that the West brought into Muslim lands over the last few decades in the form of illegal invasion and carpet bombing of Iraq, dishonest brokering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support of Arab dictatorships and many other such examples that have been exhaustively covered by renowned writers such as Robert Fisk, Phil Rees, Jessica Stern and Amira Hass among many others.

Similarly it could be argued, there are pockets of people in the West who don’t exactly mourn when Muslims are killed in conflicts far from the West. Some even cheer the killings of Muslims by the American Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. In fact, you will find YouTube videos of American soldiers cheering the death of Iraqis and Afghanis (lest we forget, two Muslim countries that had nothing to do with 9/11).

These cheerleaders of Muslim casualties or American soldiers who kill indiscriminately however do not represent America or Western values the way Muslims who cheer death and destruction in the West do not represent 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. People with varying levels of moral values exist everywhere.

ALL MUSLIMS, YOUNG AND OLD ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR STANDING UP AGAINST TERRORISM TODAY.

When the towers fell, millions of children who are Muslim teenagers today weren’t even born then. How are they at fault and why do they have to put up with bigotry, hatred and Islamophobia so common- place today? For some Muslims and non-Muslims alike, they are growing up with an incomplete understanding of a series of events that led to 9/11. For some it was day 1 since the world changed. To a minority within this group, most parents will find it hard yet important to explain how a series of misguided foreign policies of the West nurtured the seeds of hatred and anger in Muslim world and led a small fringe of individuals with Muslim names, who do not represent Islam or ordinary Muslims, to commit an act of terror that changed the world forever. Is it therefore, fair to expect Muslim teenagers who weren’t even born on 9/11 to defend themselves against common- place anti-Muslim bigotry today, a position of attack they did not start nor were they any part of ?

Why do 1.6 billion Muslims around the world have to pay for the misguided actions of 19 individuals with Muslim names when there is zero evidence their actions had anything to do with Islam? Instead, all readings indicate their act was a violent form of political protest that led to the deaths of almost 3000 innocent lives including 60 Muslims who died on that day too. (Source: Muslims Weren’t Cheering On 9/11, Mr. Trump. They Were Grieving For Their Loved Ones by Christopher Mathias, 24 Nov 2015, Huffington Post)

“Conflating extremists who claim to be Muslims with the vast, un-extreme majority of Muslims worldwide perpetuating the assumption that extremism is the default, that Muslims share inherent traits that make them worse than others who are not Muslims, and that all Muslims are guilty of extremism until proven innocent . . .” (Source: Its not just Bill Maher: Islamophobia on cable news is out of control, Max Fisher, 8 Oct 2014,Vox.com)

MUSLIMS ENVY THE DEMOCRATIC VALUES OF THE UNITED STATES.

Never mind that the “values” of the United States includes supporting corrupt and brutal dictatorships and occupations, launching wars of aggression based on lies, violating its own constitutional principles to detain indefinitely, torture and even murder of suspected enemies (including its own citizens). Or that a small but politically powerful percentage of American citizens seem as determined to incite violence in the Muslim world as their counterparts there seem determined to launch violence against Westerners. (Source: Why ‘they’ still don’t hate us by Mark LeVine, on 27 September 2012, The Independent)

BUT SURELY, ISLAM IS AGAINST DEMOCRACY.

To illustrate Islam’s support for a democratic government, verse 4:59 of the Qur’an clearly outlines the people must take their vote as a responsibility and thus choose the most appropriate and suitable person to lead them. The Qur’an then exhorts those in authority to exercise justice . . . The Qur’an also promotes dialogue and consultation to gauge public opinion and decide matters fairly as illustrated in 42:39. In 4:60, it requires Muslims to “obey those in authority among them” (4:60) . . . Therefore if dictators in the Middle East [supported by Western governments and powerful Arab tribes] or radical Muslim preachers oppose the teachings of Muhammad (PBUH), then they’re solely to blame. (Source: The truth about whether Islamic values are compatible with Western values, Atif Rashid, 17 July 2016, The Independent)

Islam therefore can’t be blamed given its stance on freedom or human rights, something it started to espouse and establish long before Western democracies caught up just over a hundred years ago. How is it fair to blame Islam if the rulers, autocrats and dictators in the Middle East (read: “puppets fully supported by the West”) do not want to abide by the laws of Islam?

AT THE VERY LEAST UNLIKE THE MIDDLE EAST, ALL LIVES ARE VALUED EQUALLY IN THE WEST.

In an observant article, Jewish Rabbi Michael Lerner points out the double standards of the West:

“When the horrific assassinations of 12 media people and the wounding of another 12 media workers resulted in justifiable outrage around the world, did you ever wonder why there wasn’t an equal outrage at the tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed by the American intervention in Iraq or the over a million civilians killed by the U.S. in Vietnam,…

or why President Obama refused to bring to justice the CIA torturers of mostly Muslim prisoners, thereby de facto giving future torturers the message that they need not even be sorry for their deeds. (Source: Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy by Rabbi Michael Lerner, 11 March 2015, Tikkun Magazine)

In a separate article, the author points out two rather uncomfortable questions worth reflecting on:

(1) Why are our thoughts with the victims of the horrific attacks but not with those who suffer serious verbal and physical discrimination as a result of the actions of a few psychopaths who call themselves Muslims?; &

(2) Why is there an outpouring of sympathy for cartoonists whom we have crowned icons for free speech when a 42-year old maintenance worker was also killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks and two police officers including a Muslim officer Ahmed, who was first to arrive at the scene were also part of the final death toll? (Source: Charlie Hebdo: The 12 victims of the Paris shootings, 8 Jan 2015, Clear Barrett, Financial Times)

Last but not least, the following observation perhaps says it best: It is easy to separate wars in the Middle East with our own security in Europe and the United States. This way we the public, do not have to see what our disastrous foreign policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and beyond are doing and how our Western governments are creating the endless conditions for the rise of monstrous groups like ISIS and others, to which our homegrown lone wolves belong. (Source: How politicians duck the blame for terrorism, Patrick Cockburn, 20 March 2016, The Independent)

MUSLIMS CAN AT LEAST CHOOSE TO LIVE PEACEFUL, UNDISRUPTIVE LIVES IN THE WEST, UNLIKE PRESENT DAY MIDDLE EAST.

This depends on where you compare living in the West to:
“The fact of the matter is that the majority of Muslims like myself no longer know where to turn. The mentality of “with us or against us” remains at the forefront of both extremist ideologies. After all, both the Islamic State and religious reductionists are quick to point out comparative religious scholars like Karen Armstrong that emphasize peaceful texts as apologists for Islam.

As I received death threats from ISIS, I have also been flagged in international airports as a security threat . . . Both worlds – the secular and the extremist – are limiting my voice, mobility and access . . . I am not alone. The majority of Muslims – often described as simple-minded, indifferent, non-violent, but easily misled – are being targeted by reductionist thinkers at different ends of the spectrum.

They are attempting to strip away creative, new ways of thinking and force us to buy into a friend or enemy binary lens”. (Source: War on Islam Comes to Our Backyards by Manal Omar, October 9 2015, Huffington Post)

THERE IS NO REASON FOR MUSLIMS TO FEEL THREATENED IN AMERICA.

“There remains, among many Muslims, a sense of besiegement, and a growing frustration at perceived legal double standards. North Carolina authorities did not treat the February [2015] slaying of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill as motivated by bigotry. In July [2015], a judge permitted bail for a Tennessee man on trial for plotting to re- bomb a New York Muslim community”. (Source: For a teen aspiring to be president, being Muslim is a hurdle in post-9/11 America by Oliver Laughland in Dearborn, Michigan, and Spencer Ackerman in New York, The Guardian).

More recently in June 2017, a 17-year old teenage Muslim girl Nabra Hassanen, was grotesquely killed by Darwin Martinez Torres, a bat-wielding motorist who ran over and dumped her body in a pond near a Virginia mosque. Yet the crime was labelled “road rage” and not investigated as a hate crime, with the perpetrator facing no more than one count of second-degree murder, a gross miscarriage of justice that is slowly but steadily becoming a regrettable mainstay in the United States.

Furthermore, the fact that the Supreme court in July 2017 upheld parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0 [until it was again overturned in Oct 2017] and in doing so, legitimised blanket discrimination against a religious group has temporarily, enshrined a version of Islamophobia into practice, (Source: Trump doesn’t want Muslims in the US. That’s OK with the supreme court, Moustafa Bayoumi, 26 June 2017, The Guardian),with the U.S Customs and Border Protection happy to carry on its decades-long arbitrary “random profiling” of Muslims that for the rst time in U.S history is backed by a seal of approval from none other than the supreme court.

Therefore, why should Muslims not feel threatened? In fact in an excellent analogy, how would ordinary Americans have reacted if the tables had turn on the following incident?

“What would the news say if a bunch of Muslims – some dressed in camouflage showed up outside a church with automatic rifles and signs denouncing Christianity? When Christians do the same thing to a mosque in Texas, it elicits little more than a yawn, however (take a look at some of the photos [visit online accompanying this article] to see whether Muslim worshippers should have feared for their lives).” (Source: Christian Terrorism by Chris Weigant, 1 December 2015, Huffington Post)

MUSLIMS HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

To millions of patriotic, law-abiding Muslims men and women who serve as fire fighters, policemen, public officials, not to mention entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, lawyers and teachers born and bred in Europe and the United States as well as incoming immigrants and asylum seekers, it is important they fully understand the hypocritical right-wing polemics regularly seen on TV, online and in print is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity. Most importantly, this is not going away anytime soon.

Even if Trump had lost the election in November [2016], Islamophobia would not have slunk into the shadows but by winning, the repercussions for those fighting Islamophobia is likely to be devastatingly challenging given the loud, inherent message that it is okay to spew hatred and vitriol as a politician against Muslims for the sake of being elected, even if it means attacking an already vilified minority with zero accountability. His win has demonstrated how widespread anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming, especially among white Evangelicals Christians, moving up from fringe hate groups into mainstream political discourse and now, as the much dreaded official policy coming directly from the White House.

While there are some Muslims who continue to hold out hope that Trump may be more bluster than real threat, if the President of the United States is the very archetype and instigator of Islamophobia, then vilifying Muslims, scapegoating Islam, vandalising mosques and attacking anybody who looks Muslim is only fair game, blurring the line between the person on-the-ground torching mosques and politician supporting blanket surveillance of Muslims. Words by people in public office shape perceptions, which shape public policy, which often determines whether people live in peace or chaos. (Source: Donald Trump: The Islamophobia president by Khaled A Beydoun, Al Jazeera English, 9 November 2016)

Worse still, the existing cabinet members and advisers of the Trump administration have thus far been discussing the real threat of extremism with all the sophistication of a middle-school social-studies class. Therefore, the American dream will no doubt become a living night- mare for many minorities (not only Muslims) under Trump’s presidency. Muslims in America and around the world indeed have plenty to worry about.

AT LEAST MUSLIMS ARE SAFE IN THE WEST AND CAN PRACTISE THEIR FAITH FREELY.

In over a decade since 30 September 2005 when Flemming Rose, the Foreign Editor at Jyllands-Posten myopically commissioned drawings of Muhammad (PBUH), well over a thousand mosques (if not more) across the United States, Australia and continental Europe have experienced at least one incident of vandalism, easily devolving into a partial laundry list:

including graffiti painted over its walls, bacon or severed pig’s head hung on the door of prayer halls, feces and torn pages of the Qur’an thrown at the entrance, multiple gunshots, smoke bombs, Molotov cocktail and small explosive devices thrown within the mosque’s compound, re attack burning down mosques, armed demonstrators picketing at mosques, group of intimidating motorcyclists driving around in circles, threatening letters, bile-filled phone and online messages as well as threats of violence and many other varied forms of attempted arson.

Therefore, Muslims in the West have regrettably been given plenty of reasons to be frightened.

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved

MUSLIMS SUPPORT ISIS


SIXTY-THREE (63) MILLION MUSLIMS BACK ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS).

A Pew Research poll titled “Views of ISIS overwhelmingly negative” available online published in November 17 2015 indicates the exact opposite of the “63 million” figure accomplices of hate and terrorism often like to misrepresent, stigmatizing a lot of Muslims worldwide as extremists.

The poll based on a sample size of no more than 1000 people per country in eleven Muslim countries or 11,000 Muslims in grand total (out of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide) were asked for their views of ISIS. The “63 million” magic number is derived by inversely applying the number of poll respondents who had a positive view of ISIS against the population of that given Muslim country, creating a twisted interpretation of the poll outcome.

Incidentally Fox News personality and anti-Muslim demagogue Sean Hannity made the same claim citing the same “63 million Muslims” number when this poll was published and was roundly condemned by Media Matters for America for spreading misinformation. Donald Trump too, made a similar claim in a CNN interview on March 9 and not for the first time mocked for his ignorance. Niall Ferguson (former husband of none other than Ayaan Hirsi Ali no less, who once said “We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot”. I think we are at war with Islam and there’s no middle ground in wars.”) too, has erroneously cited the same number in his writings, adding fuel to re the misinformation about Islam and Muslims, spreading like wild re today, thanks in large part to irresponsible reporting and near absent fact-checking by the press.

In fact for people who love big numbers, a true, verifiable number that may be worthwhile using is 61.9 million. The exact number of Americans who voted for Trump, arguably the most xenophobic, sexist and racist man alive today, illustrating where the actual problem of the world lies.

Also, in 1943, the Nazi party became a political force after Hitler’s Nazi Party received 43.9 percent of the votes. Should the 17 million Germans that supported the party therefore be implicated for the crimes of Hitler? Sixty years later – and just before the illegal Iraq invasion in 2003, 47-60 percent of the US public supported the war. Are 136 million Americans therefore responsible for the chaos that ensued since the epic mismanagement of Iraq, the direct loss of over 4 million lives since and the generational damage the West has wrecked in the Middle East today?

IF ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT PEACE, WHY DID SOME MUSLIMS LEAVE THE WEST TO JOIN GROUPS LIKE ISIS?

While there have been numerous reports of Muslims abandoning their lives in the West and migrating to cities controlled by ISIS, no one really quite understands why but to over-simplistically say this has to do with religion is to associate the barbaric actions of ISIS with that of religion, which are issues on two opposite ends of a very long pole. Nothing groups like ISIS have done thus far can be traced back to the teachings and actions of Muhammad (PBUH). In fact, their actions are in direct contradictions to his pacifist teachings.

However, if one truly wants to come close to understanding if this is representative of Islam or ordinary Muslims, the first step ought to be to understand the simple numbers involved.

We are talking about a very small number of no more than 50,000 (maximum exaggerated estimate) that have left for ISIS and other militant groups out of 1.6 billion Muslims so less than 0.03 percent of the global Muslim population.

It is hardly fair to broad-brush 1.6 billion Muslims for the actions and decisions taken by less than 0.03 percent of the Muslim population today. Nevertheless, it is important we understand why these lost souls chose to migrate to areas previously controlled by the nearly defunct ISIS (or whatever next they mutate into).

To conclude this has to do with “religious motivation” is simply false. In fact, the article below explain why these people think what they are doing is for religion when what they are doing is precisely the exact opposite of what Islam allows them to do. The following article also provides a snapshot of ISIS and its credibility among 99.97 percent of the Muslim population globally:

When ISIS beheaded 21 of Egypt’s Coptic Christians earlier this week [in early February 2015], they claimed to be doing God’s work. They quoted religious sounding terminology like “ fighting until the war lays down its burdens”, not ceasing until the Promised Messiah returns to “break the cross” and “kill the swine”. As a Muslim, one watches in dismay. Religious concepts and terminology ripped out of context and proper use to justify the death of 21 innocent human beings. When meaning is lost, only words remain, and in this case they’re religious sounding but totally devoid of religious truth. Let me share with you some real religious truths: the Koran likens the murder of an innocent life to the murder of the entire humanity, such is its gravity. The Koran also declares that there is “no compulsion in matters of religion”. It declares that religious war, like the one that ISIS is claiming, is totally forbidden. Permission is only granted in situations such as when a religious community has been severely persecuted and has lost all semblance of freedom of conscience. None of these conditions exist for ISIS to claim legitimacy. However, the Koran, whose message ISIS butcher at every turn, even instructs Muslims to protect the religious freedoms of others when they are persecuted and threatened . . . Today we are left perplexed by the same question – are ISIS extremely selfish or just mad? There’s a good chance it’s both, although if there one thing that their actions have made absolutely clear is there is nothing “Islamic” about ISIS. (Source: You only need to read these passages from the Koran to realise that there’s nothing ‘Islamic’ about the Islamic State by Adam Walker on 19 February 2015, The Independent)

HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY OBEYING ALLAH GIVEN HOW MUSLIMS ARE KILLING CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA?

During the medieval and early modern periods that is, for up to 1400 years since the advent of Islam up to seventy years ago, following the fall of the Ottoman empire, Christians and Jews generally received better treatment in Muslim lands than Muslims and Jews received in Christian lands, an indisputable and historical fact.

However to really respond to this false statement and severely misinformed view, it is best to share a Letter to the Editor by yours truly (updated since), that focuses on the same subject: The barbaric actions of ISIS has everything to do with power and politics and clearly nothing to do with religion.

Arab Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and Shias as well as their churches and places of worships have co-existed peacefully in Iraq and Syria for centuries. In fact before the civil war in 2010, this group of minorities accounted for 26 percent of the population [in Syria].

If Islam were about killing other non-Muslim Arabs 1400 years ago, there would not have been any minorities left in the region today.

To falsely claim today’s sectarian conflict is a continuation of an ancient religious divide is not only a misreading of history but a complete fabrication of it. In fact for centuries non-Arab minorities have relished the opportunity of living in cities ruled by Muslims. This is true during the Crusades when crusaders recruited by quoting out of context verses from the Bible, as well as at the time of the Islamic Golden Age, when the international language of science was Arabic.

Furthermore, Sunni Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS a group that preposterously claims to be Sunni itself and yet not only do Sunni Muslims account for the largest victims and casualties but are also actively fighting the grotesque savagery of ISIS today, more than any other ethnic group. If it weren’t for the false intelligence, illegal invasion of Iraq, non-existent post-war planning and the disbanding of the Iraqi army in 2003 let alone the installation of a puppet government that unleashed a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle, ISIS and its spiraling descent of madness would not have been formed today.

ISIS, like other deviant Muslims and groups today, that account for less than a fraction of 0.03 percent of Muslims worldwide justify their actions by quoting out-of-context verses from the Qur’an but if they claim to be following their religion, what religion are the rest of more than 99.97 percent of Muslims worldwide following?

In the current culture of Muslim witch-hunting and blaming Islam let alone Allah for every- thing, this simple yet important question is worth reflecting on. (Source: Letter to the Editor, 3 December 2015, South China Morning Post)

Put simply, the Qur’an, Islam and Muslims have been around for approximately 1400 years (since the seventh century) while “Islamic” terrorism has been around for around 30-40 years (late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon), therefore how can Islam all of a sudden become a problem?

IF MUSLIMS ARE SO WELCOMING, WHY ARE SO MANY CHRISTIANS FLEEING THE MIDDLE EAST?

In a clear and concise explanation by James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, he writes: Before the Bush Administration’s disastrous 2003 invasion, there were 1.3 millions in Iraq. Despite assuming some religious trappings, Saddam Hussein’s ruthless dictatorship was secular and, therefore, provided Christians some degree of religious freedom. One result of the US invasion that overthrew Saddam’s regime and the dismantling of Iraq’s state apparatus was to unleash a civil war of armed sectarian militias, a feature of which was the “ethnic cleansing” of entire neigh- borhoods of Sunni and Shia Muslims and, of course, vulnerable Christians – who had no militias to protect them.

During the first five years of the Iraq war, the Christian population of Iraq declined from 1.3 million to 400,000 – with no one in the Bush Administration attending to their plight. Only with the emergence of bloody ISIS, did the West pay attention to the fate of Iraq’s Christians. (Source: The Arab World’s Christians: Easter, 2017, 15 April 2017, James Zogby, Huffington Post)

GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND MANY OTHERS HAVE UNEQUIVOCALLY HELPED PROVE THE QUR’AN IS VIOLENT.

ISIS has absolutely nothing to do with religion but the absurd misinterpretation of Islam and the Qur’an. Even the apartheid regime is known to have used the Bible to justify its inhumane policies. Similarly, run by individuals with Muslim names who invoke the name of Allah or quote verses from the Qur’an before committing abhorring acts of terrorism, the vast majority of Muslims not only condemn ISIS but there is a colossal irony in how the group which has the largest number of victims of terrorism (Muslims) are often blamed for it.

There are no violent, extremist or provocative verses in the Qur’an, only distorted, misquoted and purposefully misinterpreted ones. (Source: There is not a place in paradise awaiting terrorists – but there are abusive hate preachers who exploit vulnerable young Muslims in this life by Atif Rashid, 31 May 2017, The Independent)

Using perhaps a simple yet effective litmus test as anecdotal evidence, if the entire Qur’an had said nothing else but “do good and avoid evil” in clear and simple terms, you can be sure there will still be people with interpretive biases who will take this verse out of context and commit murder and spread mayhem justifying their actions using this simple verse.

One must not forget that Malala Yousafzai read the same Qur’an, but interpreted the text as a call to education and female empowerment. But to those who fear monger, ISIS is the face of Islam instead. (Source: Post London Attack, Here’s How Muslims Can Help Fight Terrorism, Hasan Piker, 22 March 2017, Huffington Post)

Given such, there will always be people (both ISIS let alone the Saudis, Nigerians, Somalis, Sudanese and others), who will twist verses in the Qur’an to justify their actions. Fundamentally, verses in a book cannot be held responsible for the acts of terror some individuals with Muslim or Christian names commit in the name of their religion.

BUT LOOK – THE QUR’AN PROMOTES VIOLENCE.

The most cold-blooded partial verse may be “Kill them wherever you encounter them” (Qur’an 2:191), which is often cited as evidence of Islam’s intolerance. But the rest of this verse and passage indicates that this references the tribes who were persecuting Muhammad’s (PBUH) followers, and furthermore counsels that fighting is to stop when persecution stops: “If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further] hostility, except toward aggressors”. (Qur’an 2:191-193).(Source: An Atheist’s (Somewhat) Relaxed View of the Qur’an by Ronald A. Lindsay on August 1 2014, Huffington Post)

OKAY BUT THE RISE OF ISIS PROVES THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ISLAM THAT ENCOURAGES VIOLENCE AND INTOLERANCE.

ISIS is as much Islamic as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda is Christian, which it isn’t. Nevertheless, one should not forget how ISIS came into being: Without the US invasion of Iraq, there will be no ISIS. Without the disastrous post-war polices of de-Baathification, the Sunni minority would not have felt marginalised and gravitated towards their own Sunni devils (al-Qaeda) shunning the Shia devils, who as part of the government in Iraq, were just as brutal. Thus, the primary factor behind the rise of ISIS is a foreign occupation, a lesson that seems to be lost in the hullabaloo over how to label ISIS. (Source: The Hubris of the Islamic Label on 25February 2015 by Parvez Ahmed, Huffington Post)

 In other words, if it weren’t for the sharp wrong turn with the disastrous let alone illegal invasion of Iraq by the 48 countries as part of the “coalition of the willing”, extremism that has mutated to its current shape and form would not have been given the much needed oxygen it needed to expand and thrive today.

On a lighter note: “If the rise of ISIS proves all Muslims are inherently violent, than the fact that 5 of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim makes us all Muslims Noble Peace Prize winners?”

FYI, the winners include: (I) Shirin Ebadi (Iranian activist, 2003); (II) Mohamed ElBaradei (former head of the Int’l Atomic Energy Agency, 2005); (III) Muhammed Yunus (micro nance pioneer, 2006); (IV) Tawakkol Karman (Yemeni activist, 2011); (V) Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani activist, 2014) (Source: Words by Hend Amry, Libyan-American) 

© 2018. Ordinary Muslim Productions. All Rights Reserved