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Of shadows and fears

For more than a decade and a half, Muslim countries from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Palestine have been the targets of the most colossal war machines that the US and its European and regional allies could mobilise. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered and millions have been forced into the indignity of exile and refugee status.

This is not something the Muslims did to themselves. This is something that, beginning with former President George W. Bush and then continuing with Barack Obama and now Trump, the US and its European allies have done to Muslims. President Bush’s Secretary of War (the euphemism for it is ‘Defense’) Donald Rumsfeld called it a ‘campaign of shock and awe’. The world indeed is still in shock and awe with the enormity of misery the US and its European allies have unleashed and perpetrated in the Arab and Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Libya.

Aided, abetted, and enabled by both US and Europe, Israel too has been engaged over even longer decades stealing Palestinian lands, murdering and maiming innocent Palestinian civilians in their thousands, and branding anyone who dares to resist their thievery and murder or voice an objection as a ‘terrorist’ or else an ‘anti-Semite’.

A murderous byproduct of the systematic, consistent, unrelenting, dismantling of key Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya has been the rise of the creatures that call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Muslims and Arabs are the primary targets of these monsters. But occasionally heinous mass murders in Europe are correctly or falsely (for propaganda purposes) also claimed by ISIL, the most recent of which has been in a concert hall in Manchester attended mostly by innocent teenagers.

With every such heart-wrenching crime, Muslims living in Europe and the US face a paralysing question: how could they ever express the depth of their anger, frustration, despair, but above all sympathies in a manner that brings them into the bosom of national and global mourning in their homeland, where they live – in this case in the UK, or else in France, or the US.

The question arises from the towering moral upper hand that denies Muslims as Muslims the agency to mourn the victims of Manchester and sympathise with their loved ones. Terms such as ‘Briton’, ‘British’, or by extension ‘European’ or ‘American’ is kept exclusively for the victims, as the term ‘terrorist’ is made exclusive to Muslims. Muslims, therefore, cannot ever enter the moral domain and the ethical precinct of sympathy.

The systematic demonisation of Muslims as subhuman, the persistent interchangeable identification of the very word ‘terrorism’ with the word ‘Muslim’ has now made it forever impossible for a Muslim, any Muslim, as a Muslim, to be anything but a ‘terrorist’. Islamophobes, liberal or fanatical, in their common hatred of Islam and Muslims, have expelled Muslims from the moral domain where a human being as a Muslim (a Muslim as a human being), can express her or his sympathies without appearing guilty by association and thus hypocritical.

If you were to watch the BBC ever since the horrid event, you’d see it is absolutely fixated on the news, as it should, as it must. There is of course nowhere near any such fixation when a bomb targets civilians in Istanbul, Aleppo, Baghdad, Gaza, Kabul, or Cairo – again why should there be?    Why should BBC care to find out the names of the innocent Egyptian Copts murdered just a few days after the victims of Manchester by the selfsame ISIL, suspend its programming to show the grief of their loved ones or a gathering of national mourning in Egypt?

This article has been excerpted from: ‘Can Muslims mourn Manchester?’

Courtesy: Aljazeera.com

Hamid Dabashi, "Of shadows and fears," The News. 2017-06-02.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Muslim world , Islamic state , Refugees , Terrorists , Barack Obama , George W Bush , Iraq , Syria , ISIL , ISIS