Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia: The Dilemma of Secular Muslims
Last week’s mass shooting at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino has generated a climate of fear for Americans. Leaders like Donald Trump have asked for a “total and complete shutdown” of the entry of Muslims to the United States until the United States country’s representatives can “figure out what is going on.”
This morning I also read a story in Vox citing statistics from a survey. The results were pretty startling. Nearly 74 percent Republicans and 45 percent Democrats believe that Islam is incompatible with American values. Here is an infographic:
Such surveys are often contentious due to methodological issues. However, commentaries in the mainstream media and reports of fear in Muslim community make it clear that these are difficult times.
I recently arrived in the US escaping Islamists in my own country. As a secular Muslim, I am perturbed. I believe that Islam needs reformation and have written in detail about the prospects of such a movement.
Today I tweeted about these issues. I am posting them here:
- Last week in a communication class I spoke about how the entertainment industry influences views on politics and the ‘other’ not just the news media.
- I showed clips of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘American Sniper’ to students & then sought reactions: Both films subtly ‘otherise’ and stereotype.
- Lots has been written by American academics and commentators on the image of Arab etc, but it has become more intense and polarised.
- If social media is a major tool for jihadist propaganda and recruitment, it is also a key influence on shaping ideas about (violent) Islam and Muslims.
- Check out internet searches on what Islam is and you will find out what’s there to ‘educate’ & inform. Lots of hatred and calls for vengeance.
- Jihadists use dark corners of the internet to build their networks and recruit online. We don’t even know the extent of that. It’s a challenge
- The shift of public opinion to right wing in Europe and now in the US did not happen overnight. It has been brewing and social media has a role
- Muslim states especially Gulf monarchies need to wake up. Their persecution of secular rationalist Muslims has enabled violent extremism.
- Huntington’s thesis was always full of holes but it seems that the so-called ‘civilizations’ are trying hard to prove it valid and true.
- Violent ideologies branded as ‘pure’ Islam are linked to Saudi orbit, billions invested there. Few mention that in US elections debate.
- An ordinary Muslim in US, France & UK will pay the price of rising tide but the Gulf kings will continue to be ‘allies’ and arms purchasers
- Bombing X Y or Z a short term solution. Even after 14 years no lesson learnt.Key step is to choke Gulf funding, official and private, into radical thought.
- Muslim profiling is not a religious issue. It’s a human rights’ issue. Even ex-Muslims will be branded as same for their name/colour/accent.
- Imagine if I am an angry person out to avenge the ‘violent’ Muslim’ will I ask him: “hey are you an ex-Muslim or a practising one”? NO
- This is why poor Sikhs have been attacked in so many places for their beard/turban. They are not even Muslims but ‘look’ the same.
- NB:I am no ‘apologist’. I called out hate-filled mosque sermons/narratives on Pak television and paid a price for it. Hate is unacceptable.
- I have always said Muslims have to reform their theology and outdated man-made jurisprudence. Forget the West, its important for our societies.
- While we should oppose Muslim profiling underway, we cannot be blind that so many are being influenced by Salafi and other purist ideas.
- Time for all rational Muslims to stand up and reject and challenge violent supremacist mindsets that have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims!
I will end with what I wrote last year after Charlie Hebdo attacks:
This is the time for introspection and self-correction, not exorcising the ghosts of the past and injustices of the present. Only Muslims can do it themselves.