“Please, don’t let it be a Muslim”

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Afeef Khan

Jumada' al-Akhirah 20, 1434 2013-05-01

Opinion

by Afeef Khan (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 3, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1434)

In the wake of the Boston bombing, this tweet from a Libyan blogger captured the overall Muslim sentiment. The so-called leaders of the Muslim community in North America were quick to condemn the bombings. These same leaders, however, have never condemned America’s crimes against innocents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen…

Please, don’t let it be a Muslim. This is the sentiment that was heard and felt across the Muslim majority world as well as the world of Muslim diaspora in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings (4-15-2013). To be sure, the majority Muslim populations of the Islamic East are well experienced with American wrath, which hasn’t needed the excuse of having its own killed by Muslims to justify its aggressions. But certainly, the official story line of guilty Muslims indiscriminately killing innocent Americans, regardless of whether or not it is true, is just what the doctor ordered for America to continue its perpetual crusades against the Muslims

In the four-day build-up to the revelation of the identities of the alleged bombers — before any evidence could be analyzed and before the manufactured official version of events could be scrutinized — the domestic Islamic organizations in the US were ready and quickly went into motion; they immediately issued their manicured public relations statements and press releases peppered with condemnations of the perpetrators and the perfunctory apologia about how Islam is averse to violence and terror. CAIR spokespeople said, “American Muslims, like Americans of all backgrounds, condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s cowardly bomb attack on participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon…” MPAC representatives called on “all of us as Americans to work together to bring those responsible to justice.” ICNA executives, impressed with the restraint shown by mainstream media and official US personnel, chimed in, “I see a very cautious and balanced approach from the media. It shows a lot of responsibility on their part, not jumping to conclusions… And the president and his statements were very balanced and mature… Overall, politicians and the media have behaved responsibly.” Across the ocean, Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied responsibility, and even the Ikhwan in Egypt issued a statement of simultaneous condemnation and regret.

But as it became more and more evident that two Muslim Chechen brothers would be the accused, their worst fears came true.

But as it became more and more evident that two Muslim Chechen brothers would be the accused, their worst fears came true. All of the pre-crisis conflict management efforts and interfaith engagements, and all of the post-crisis damage control formalities were not enough to assuage the feeling of collective regret at what had just happened and who was blamed. Never mind the fact that just two days after the Boston Marathon bombing, a fertilizer plant outside of Waco, Texas blew up, killing scores, flattening an entire town, and rendering thousands homeless. No principled Muslim was heard to say that a form of corporate terrorism that places profits before worker safety was responsible for this tragedy. Corporations are sacred cows in America: they don’t do any wrongs, they just make mistakes. Muslims, on the other hand, are the despised vermin: they’re guilty even when they’re not guilty. Never mind the fact that a day after, over 80 innocents were killed in a bomb explosion in Iraq and scores more were killed in two explosions in Pakistan. Again few principled Muslims, maybe because they are now “just used to being bombed,” stood up to condemn the kind of state-sponsored terrorism that places national interest before (that other’s) human life. States like the US are the hand of Jesus on earth: they are only violent because they have to be in the pursuit of peace. Islamic states represent the hand of the devil: they are violent because they like it, they celebrate death.

What is relevant here is that it is absolutely irrelevant whether or not a Muslim “did it.” What is relevant is the carefully crafted stereotype that when something like this occurs anywhere, a Muslim is more than likely responsible, regardless of the facts, and the facts behind the facts (and the real facts are now slowly beginning to trickle out; for instance, the older brother, if not both, had FBI handlers). What is relevant is the now embedded profile in the public mind that all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. What is relevant is the value judgement that our (US/European/Israeli) violence is principled, heroic, honorable, and righteous, while their (Muslim) violence is barbaric, murderous, and savage. What is relevant is that even if he is not a “practicing Muslim,” it is his religion (Islam) that has conditioned him into not having the least regard for human life — his own, and especially that of the “infidel.” After spending billions of media and public policy dollars to manufacture this stereotype, and after spending trillions more in bombing the hell out of Muslims in order to elicit the type of reaction that would feed into this stereotype, don’t you think the stereotype originators and managers are going to milk it to the last drop?

“Please, don’t let it be a Muslim,” is an expression of collective guilt. In North America, whether or not it was put across audibly in words, this is how the majority of Muslims felt...

“Please, don’t let it be a Muslim,” is an expression of collective guilt. In North America, whether or not it was put across audibly in words, this is how the majority of Muslims felt; few of them would deny it if pressed to speak the truth. And around the world, for those Muslims who heard about the bombings in Boston, few of them would deny sharing the same feeling. The Islamophobes (Pamela Geller, Erik Rush, Pat Robertson, Glenn Beck, Robert Spencer, et al.), whose wildest hopes were once again confirmed by the official narrative, have done their job. And worst of all, the so-called Muslim leaders, whether of organizations in the Muslim diaspora or of countries in the Islamic East, are the first ones to buy into this kind of defective narrative, at the base of which is a scapegoating stereotype that accuses those who have in their possession what somebody either wants to bury or to own.

The scapegoating campaign, if nothing else, is directed at these “imams,” because they are the ones who shape the behavior of their flock. They are the ones who influence how effective Muslim social activism will be. If the imam (leader) displays a deportment of fear leading to a sidelining of principle, then it follows that the constituencies behind him will exhibit the same attitude. The focus on Muslim leaders is not incidental, the process of resocializing the Muslims to divert their attention from their responsibility to bring social justice to the public space is not arbitrary, the desire to make Muslims invisible while the purveyors of social injustice have a field day on earth is not discretionary, and establishing a moral equivalence that renders one Western life as more worthy than hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives is not without motive. Cultivating the Muslim public mind to take on a personality of collective guilt emboldens those who are intent on delivering collective punishment.

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