A few days ago, Charlie Hebdo published an editorial titled “How did we end up here?” It was a piece questioning why suicide bombing comes as such a shocker in a social atmosphere that is fearful of criticizing Islam and its practices.
The author brings up three different examples: Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar; a woman in a Burqa; and an elder baker who is a Muslim. The editorial points out Tariq Ramadan as a scholar whose entire career revolves around speaking about and defending Islam from criticism. When the attendants of his lecture attain careers in journalism or politics, they will never dare to criticize Islam. They then mention the woman in the burqa and how people being concerned that the woman may have bombs under her outfit are misguided fears. The editorial sarcastically dismisses those concerns. Then there is the baker, who has long been a part of the community for a long time, and stops selling ham/bacon because of his religion.
The writing escalates quite quickly, and directs to bombers getting ready to bomb innocent civilians, and the innocent bystanders that fall victim to it asking “How did we end up here?”
Backlash in the Twitterverse
Any time any criticism of Islamic extremism, Islam etc. are broadcasted publicly, we all know what to expect. The magic word: Islamophobia.
The writing is very dense and it can be hard to understand for those who equate being critical of Muslim practices with inciting hatred towards Muslims.
I think it was a brilliant piece. It discusses how peaceful Muslims unintentionally contribute to the issue of Islamic extremism by intertwining criticism of Islam with bigotry against Muslims. Criticizing a woman’s decision to wear a burqa, Tariq Ramadan’s views on Islam as a peaceful religion, or a local baker’s decision to stop selling ham are not acts of bigotry. They are simply criticizing others’ decisions and views.
Let’s pause for a moment. I’ll share a few opinions of my own with you. Let’s examine them:
I think Islam harbors homophobia; Islamic dress code for women is misogynistic because it stigmatizes their expression as corrupt; and that the Quran’s hatred of disbelievers has problematic effects on how the religious Muslim relates to non-Muslims. I think ISIS follows every scriptural verse quite literally.
Does that make me a bigot? No. Does that make me an Islamophobe? Technically yes.
And that’s why the word shouldn’t exist and you, the reader should remove it from your vocabulary and encourage others to do so. Or you are part of the movement that seeks to silence me.
Criticizing decisions and ideas like these aren’t acts of bigotry or inciting hatred of those who adhere to it. There’s a difference between questioning a woman’s decision to wear a burqa and sanctioning that woman’s murder just because of her burqa. Even with this distinction, there is still a stigma attached to vocally disagreeing with this woman’s decision to wear a burqa; the baker’s decision to stop selling ham; or Tariq Ramadan’s stance on Islam. You’re called a bigot.
How is equating bigotry against people with criticism of their religiously based decisions harmful? It leads to extreme xenophobia towards Muslim immigrants on the right wing, or denial of Islam’s oppressive influence on the left, as the article mentions. It leads to the media, academia, politicians etc. failing to have a constructive discussion on the spread of Islamic Extremist ideology and it gives Islamists like Abu Haleema a free pass in the recruitment of sympathizers because his ideology that stems from Islam lacks public scrutiny.
I have not read a single sentence that calls for hatred of Muslims as an entire population. I am shocked the tweeters above have misinterpreted it that way. Let’s be real. Whoever interpreted the article as one that calls for hatred, violence, and xenophobia of all Muslims are morons digging for controversy. They are the regressive left. #realtalk
I have however seen the editorial question the socially constructed label of bigotry around vocally disagreeing with Muslims’ views on life and the potential social/political consequences of their views. In other words: criticizing ideas.
What Defending Islam Means
Defending Islam from criticism means defending the autonomous Sharia Courts prevalent in the United Kingdom which make it difficult for Muslim women to escape abusive marriages through divorce, because of Islamic rulings not British. Is being wary of these courts influence over Muslim British Communities Islamophobia?
Defending Islam from criticism is enabling incidents like the German judge not granting a young woman divorce from her abusive husband who threatened to kill her, because they have Moroccan and Muslim cultural backgrounds and such behavior is allowed in their culture, according to the judge. The judge even cited verses from the Quran that enabled husbands to hit their wives. Is criticizing this judge Islamophobia?
Defending Islam from criticism is defending those who attacked Nissar Hussain with an axe in front of his home, just because he converted from Islam to Christianity. The attackers were simply following their religious beliefs: that apostates should be beheaded. Should we tell Nissar Hassan to keep silence about apostasy laws in Islam, because criticizing Islam is bigotry or shall I say: Islamophobia?
Defending Islam from criticism allows an entire network of Radical Islamists with literal interpretation Quran to promote homophobia, misogyny, institutionalized sexual repression, and hatred/violence against disbelievers. They put in all this effort just to achieve the ultimate goal, for Islam to be globally institutionalized, or as others like to call it: Sharia law. Is criticizing their literal and backwards religious views which stems from the Quran and Hadith not allowed, because it’s Islamophobia?
Let me answer it for you. Yes that was Islamophobia. Do you agree with me that these cases are concerning? Congratulations. You’ve just became an Islamophobe. Are you a bigot? No.
To My Liberal/Progressive Friends
So my fellow liberals; before defending Islam, ask yourself this: does the Quran speak for your rights? Only if you are a faithful Muslim Heterosexual man. Why must you defend a set of ideas which, if followed in its entirety, perpetuates misogyny, violence, bigotry against disbelievers, homophobia all around the world? Are you ready to stand up for victims of Islam?
Je Suis Charlie.