The aftermath of the Paris attacks has demonstrated how feeble a society we currently live in, writes Ghulam Esposito Haydar.
The backlash and some of the commentary from a number of media outlets has been an outright disgrace. You had the Daily Mail publish a picture showing a group of “Muslim looking” people with silhouettes of them holding rifles walking over the European border, among their feet were small rodents heading in the same direction.
You couldn’t help draw comparisons between the anti-Semitic Viennese cartoons published on 2 February 1939, in an issue of Das Kleine Blatt, as a part of the then Nazi propaganda before the Second World War. Its headline asserts New York Jews are making “enormous profits” on the stock market, and depicts a colony of rats being swept from Germany but refused entry to “democratic” countries.
We’ve also witnessed a crazy surge in Islamophobic attacks, mainly against Muslim women. To top it off, we’ve had the likes of Douglas Murray of the Henry Jackson Society using this tragic incident to perpetuate the well sponsored neo-conservative narrative on securitisation, military intervention and the specific targeting of Muslims with political ideas. He even used the atrocity in a BBC radio exchange with the editor of 5 Pillars, Roshan Salih, to have a go at second and third generation migrant Muslims who believe in the implementation of Islam in all walks of their lives.
Douglas Murray seems to twist history to paint a false picture that previous generations of migrant Muslims came to West to “escape the backward brutality of Shariah law”. He uses this lie as a spring board to then criticise Muslims in the West who now “paradoxically believe in what their parents and grandparents fled from”. Of course, what Douglas Murray does here is manipulates history to support his demonisation of Islam and Muslims. Migrant Muslims in the West came here for a number of reasons, and I can inform you with a great deal of conviction that it wasn’t because they were “fleeing Shariah l aw”.
Many migrated to the West post World War Two because Britain and Europe in general needed migrant workers to replace their depleted male work force. They often came from countries belonging to European colonies, which pillaged and destabilised the countries where they ruled over. A number of Muslims throughout Africa, the Arabic speaking countries, and the Indian Subcontinent did migrate as political refugees, but they weren’t fleeing from “Islamic rule” or “Shariah law” but the brutal secular dictators propped up by the European colonial powers.
As a Muslim who practises my faith, I believe in Shariah, but I hope that the readers do not incorrectly conflate my support for the Shariah as advocating support for the countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Taliban, Da’esh (ISIS) or Boko Haram; I am not. The aforementioned are far from “Islamic”, let alone an “Islamic state”. I don’t believe there is a nation state or any other tribal group in the world, which comprehensively rules society by Shariah. If there was, we wouldn’t hear of some of the despicable crimes and unjust treatment of people under their rule.
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There is a lot of work to do in spiritually cultivating a Muslim society to welcome and yearn for Islamic law (as opposed to a coup d’etat or armed insurrection), before a place will ever be governed by Shariah again.
The Paris attacks was a reminder of the crazy post ‘war on terror’ world we currently live in. It obviously goes without say that execution of innocent civilians anywhere around the world, be it in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad or Raqqa is unacceptable.
As a friend of mine, Dr Shazad Amin, put it in his letter to the Independent:
“France has bombed many ISIS targets in response to the Paris massacre. An understandable response, but one born of revenge and emotion instead of rationality and intelligence. A similar response to that from the US after 9/11 and one which will fan the flames rather than extinguish the fire.
“No one speaks of what exactly has been destroyed in such raids. There will have been many more innocent civilians killed, people who hate ISIS as much as we do but have nowhere to go. More deaths, more hatred for the West, more recruitment to the nihilistic Isis cause.
“That is exactly what Isis wants to see from the West: revenge attacks, polarised communities, fear and hatred of Muslims, more Islamophobic attacks, erosion of free speech and other human rights…”
I totally agree with him. Personally, I cannot differentiate between the reaction of the French government and the ISIS claimed attacks in Paris.
You cannot justify taking innocent lives be they “collateral damage” simply because your innocent were taken.This is stupidity and madness.
The innocent in France were no way responsible for the crimes of their government, in the same way that the civilians living under the regime of ISIS aren’t responsible for the crimes of the self-proclaimed “Islamic state”.
What France and many other countries are doing is no different to ISIS. Both are unjustifiable. Innocent lives are innocent lives.
We must try and break this circle of violence. But if I’m to be honest, I’m not hopeful at all. Not when current cabinet members are serving the interests of arms manufacturers, security and telecommunications companies, and others with domestic and foreign interests, only made possible by the clampdown on “non violent extremism” at home, and military intervention abroad.
Ghulam Esposito Haydar is a Muslim activist, the founder of Manchester New Muslim Network and a director of the Myriad Foundation.