When Muslims or people of colour are victims of crimes, investigators caution the public and media to be level-headed and unbiased until all the facts are verified. Commentators rush to caution viewers and social media followers that they shouldn’t rush to judgment about the motive of the murderer, instead focusing on blaming the victim, explaining away the hate or just plain dismissing that Muslims are increasingly a targeted group in the US and other Western nations.
It would be fine to ask the public to ‘wait for the official investigation’ if these same commentators would withhold judgment on investigations when a Muslim is a perpetrator of a crime, but that is not the case. When a Muslim is accused of a crime, media analysts immediately begin to report it as terrorism, without taking into account that Muslims who commit crimes do so for the same reasons as other criminals – because they have no regard for laws or for other human lives.
This double standard doesn’t end there, though. Rather than focusing on the loss of life that the family just suffered, some had the gall to blame Nabra for being out late at night and for her mode of dress. Others chose to vilify the other teenagers who were with her for running away. Perhaps most chillingly, some chose to focus on the murderer’s “legal status” because he had a Hispanic-sounding name, as if American citizens have never or would never commit such crimes!
Focusing on such questions dehumanises Nabra. It makes her murderer the story and finds excuses for his actions. When three young Muslims were murdered in 2015, investigators pinned it on ‘a parking dispute’, as if that justified the actions of their murderer, denying the family’s narrative that Islamophobia played a role, indicating that he was provoked and diminishing the role the victims’ very visible adherence to Islam had in the crime.
When a former Google employee vandalised a mosque and made alarming statements about wanting to kill ‘lots of people’ and hurt blacks, Jews and Mexicans, her mental illness was cited as an excuse for her actions and she got off with probation after spending just four months behind bars before her sentencing.
There is a trend in the US, and it is that our society has become quite adept at finding excuses for murderers. The black community in America has most often been on the receiving end of this disease: when law enforcement murder a black man or woman in cold blood, the resounding question isn’t why this happened in the first place and why it continues to happen – it is why the black man or woman ‘didn’t comply with police orders’, or how the victim’s criminal past ‘contributed to their demise’, as if the victim’s past justifies their murder at the hands of those who are meant to protect them.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘He killed my daughter because she is Muslim’.
Courtesy: Aljazeera.comMalak Chabkoun, "When a Muslim is killed," The News. 2017-06-22.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social issues , Social media , Human lives , Civil society , Muslims , Crimes , Terrorism , Islamophobia , United States , Mexico