As Muslims, we feel the heat of conformity and Islamophobia everyday, and for us justice is truly non-existent, writes Ibtihal Bsis.
Reading the news over the last couple of weeks has been arduous, painstaking and frustrating, with short bouts of punches in the air. We have all had our rants, some are vocal, some not. Muslims have rightly afforded themselves that time to let off steam, and have returned to face the music once again.
Lately it’s been open season with all the major parties laying out their manifestos for the 2015 General Election. And the mainstream media (yes gutter and so called quality press) just can’t wait to report on the latest “Muslim” headline. Here’s a select few from the past – take a moment to rant:
And we all know this one:
Being “tough” on the Muslims
We feel targeted and alienated by those in power who compete against one another to gain the prize of being the toughest on the Muslim community. It feels like being on a roller coaster sometimes, earlier this month, Theresa May, at the recent Conservative party conference, brought her ice pick to stab away at the word “justice” or what was left of it- not much by all accounts. Then elation at the news of our dear brother Moazzam Begg being released, to be closely followed by the killing of the much respected and loved aid worker, Alan Henning.
Today I was catching up on my Whats App groups, and there it was: Trojan strikes again- Ofsted visited an Islamic faith school and drove a child to tears during an Ofsted cross examination, it’s worse than a visit from the terrorism squad from what can be gathered. At least they cannot terrorise and question your children, for now that is.
If the government was actually concerned about real time crime instead of doing their level best to squeeze Muslims into the dock they may have noticed their young aspiring MP who was caught snorting what is referred to “meow meow” or mephedrone at the party conference. This is after one of Cameron’s speeches about getting addicts off drugs- a “LOL” may be apt here!
Playing the victim card?
But it’s no laughing matter when we know that we all feel vulnerable to attack at any time. And despite what we are often told, we don’t like playing the victim, we are not playing, we are victimised. We feel materially weaker against a state with an army, secret courts, terror laws and a media machine- what do we have tangibly?
We celebrate anyone who speaks up on our behalf, the ones that can see the wood from the trees, and there aren’t many of them. Ben Affleck became a star; not the star of Hollywood, but a shining star amongst an extremely unpopular minority.
We Muslims, when he stood up to the usual bigotry handed down by Bill Maher and his side kick for the show Sam Harris. It is not necessarily what he said but how agitated Affleck became that caught the attention of Muslims, especially those living in the West.
When it comes to Islam, the phrase “no news is good news” just doesn’t exist for us at all. We are the news but we are not the masters of that news. An awful lot is said and written about us, but our voices are drowned out by words such as “extremists”, “terrorists”, or if all else fails stick a gagging order on them- that will shut them up. If they speak- then we can make it a criminal offence and have them locked up for a good few years. The biggest oxymoron in May’s speech was that this should be handed out to all those who sought to “disrupt the democratic process.” How very undemocratic.
We can all say that this is all with one goal in mind that some groups in the Muslim community warned it would have- to silence Muslims, to force them to adopt “British Values” (although no one can really say what those are) by action, if not in thought. We all have to become “House Muslims”- a term that comes up quite often on social media and it hits the nail on the head.
Reading an article in the New Statesman entitled “The Myth of the Moderate Muslims” pretty much sums it up. This mythical character is now extinct (my oxymoron), so no house Muslims lining up to please their masters.
This explains a lot, it would explain Theresa May’s speech, the ever increasing anti-terror raids on Muslims, Trojan, the over bearing use of Schedule 7 stops at borders, and it would explain the US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq that are killing civilians.
We as Muslims are not about to sell our values to please David Cameron or Barack Obama, we are not even prepared to pretend that we are, we can’t anyway, how do you pretend- we can’t be hypocrites.
These bigoted programmes, policies, laws and invasions are intrinsically linked into silencing Islamic political thought- yes that’s right – just thought and ideas. That is what the proposed gagging orders are all about, silencing the opinions of the Muslim community and it is non-specific. It ranges from our opinions about Gaza, Syria, British foreign policy, segregation, the veil and so forth We can instantly shout out some more from the top of our heads.
Who will speak up for the Muslims next?
Ultimately we have to be the media- all of us. We cannot afford to wait around for the next Russell Brand or Ben Affleck. The mutterings under our breath and extended sighs unfortunately just don’t cut it. I have read so many comments that are no more than drum rolls which go flat but it could become spectacular if only we had the confidence and trust that every word really does count.
We have to create our own media machines and pass the word around. How many times does a status become shared across the globe and some have even made videos based on a status they have read. We all remember the impact of “signs of a radical baby” had on the media after Boris Johnson’s disparaging comments.
It’s guaranteed the first thing many people do in the morning is read the latest news updates on social media. Even the mainstream media have created their own pages. Let us voice our values and inspire others to do so and gain the reward all in one. Let’s not leave it to a select few “active social media warriors” who we can all rely on. It is our responsibility too. Yes times are tough but we live in an age where our voices travel in seconds across from Canada to Australia.
Write about the hypocrisy of governments and the oppression of our Ummah everywhere. They have no means to tell their story except through you- sounds heavy, so lighten the load. Write about unity and the return of the shade of Islam and expose the lies against this amazing way of life and correct the misconceptions. This isn’t just a luxury- it is our obligation to each other and most importantly to our Perfect Creator- make Allah (swt) proud.
Ibtihal Bsis is deputy women’s media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir, UK.
You can follow Ibtihal on Twitter @UmmHarith