Thursday, 8 January 2015

Moderate Muslims Need To Feel Some Tough Love

It seems appropriate to use the French term déjà vu to describe the reaction of Muslims to the murderous assault in Paris against the publishing house Charlie Hebdo.

Every time Muslim terrorists engage in an atrocity against humanity, moderate Muslims (whom no one in their right mind is blaming anyway) go into a huddle feeling sorry for themselves ("Now they'll blame us again", "Brace for a fresh round of Islamophobia"), disowning the perpetrators without acknowledging the problem ("These are not true Muslims", "This is not Islam", "Islam is a religion of peace") and engaging in whataboutery ("What about the crusades?", "What about Palestine?", "What about the drone attacks?", etc.) as if those are effective rebuttals.

These tweets by a Muslim (which have been eagerly retweeted) are an illustration of everything that is wrong with the wider Muslim community today.

The victim complex on full display.

No one (except a bigot) would tar an entire community with the same brush. It's acknowledged that only a tiny minority of Muslims are terrorists. At the same time, it's impossible to sweep under the carpet the fact that virtually all terrorists in recent times have been Muslims. Hence there is a problem within the Muslim community. (Let's not bring up those tired strawman counterexamples of Tim McVeigh and the IRA.) This is really what people are concerned about. The Muslim community has a problem within itself that Muslims are not acknowledging.

Victimhood on parade again

A community whose members regularly lash out with deadly force against critics, and which most people are afraid to offend, cannot be called "oppressed" by any stretch of the imagination. That's a cruel joke. Substitute "easily offended" for "oppressed" to get a truer picture. Satire challenges both power and the easily offended. It's meant to tell the latter not to take themselves too seriously.

Diversionary tactic #157

Yes, there is a serious problem with the surveillance state. Every act of terror makes people in government rub their hands in glee as they strip away more of our rights. But that doesn't make the conversation about freedom of speech "fake". It just means freedom has two sets of enemies - Islamists and the government. The former is the enemy we recognise. The latter is the enemy who pretends to be our saviour. The former empowers the latter.

Whataboutery sugarcoated with humour is still a non sequitur

Don't be misled by the humorous reference to Iggy Azalea. There is some serious whataboutery being engaged in here. He left out the Crusades and Palestine, because you know, everything bad that Muslims are doing today is a reaction to the terrible things the West has been doing to the Muslim world for centuries. So we mustn't blame Muslims for the terrible things Muslims are doing. The West has not only done worse, it is responsible for what Muslims are now doing! This is a seriously facetious argument that will only convince Muslims who want to be convinced. Worse, it blocks all criticism and introspection, justifying inaction and throwing the ball into someone else's court.

So what is the problem with the Muslim community?

It's two things - defensiveness and denial, i.e., feeling like the victims when confronted with difficult questions, and denying that the problem might actually lie with Islam itself.

Let me spell out what moderate Muslims are expected to do. This is not going to be pleasant reading for them, but I'm going to do it anyway. Think of it as tough love.

No, you don't have to apologise for what happened. It wasn't you who did it.

But you do need to seriously introspect instead of being defensive and feeling like the victims.

There is a problem with Islam as enshrined in the Quran, and that is a fundamental lack of respect (no, intolerance) for non-Muslims. Every page of the Quran drips with self-righteous hatred for unbelievers. If this is a religion of peace, the Quran doesn't seem to show it.

You need to actively challenge this thinking within your own community. And by that, I mean each and every one of you needs to start from yourself. You're not a terrorist, but ask yourself honestly if you hold any of the following views (take your time with each one):

1. You believe Islam is the best religion
2. You think non-Muslims should ideally convert to Islam
3. You feel happy when you hear that Islam is the fastest-growing religion
4. You think Muslims who renounce their faith are doing something wrong, and probably that they ought to be punished in some way
5. The community that you identify with is the 1.5 billion strong Ummah
6. You believe the Quran is the literal word of God and is perfect, requiring no change

If you have any of the above views, then I suggest that you are contributing to the problem the world has today. It is not enough to condemn acts of terror or to disown terrorists. These ideas are the root of the problem.

You could try entertaining the following ideas instead.

1. Islam is a religion like any other. There are good and bad aspects in every religion.
2. There are good people in all religions (and there are good atheists as well). There is no necessity for people to convert from one religion to another. All that is required is for people to be good.
3. It is better for Islam to rid itself of bad practices than to simply gain more adherents.
4. People have a right to change their minds. If someone thinks Islam is not for them, that's their business.
5. I belong to a 7 billion strong community called humanity. All of us are equal human beings, Muslims as well as non-Muslims
6. The Quran may quite possibly contain some ideas that are not in keeping with the times, and these may have to be discarded.

If you can accept these latter thoughts, then you are on your way to solving the problem with Islam, i.e., its arrogance regarding its own perfection and its fundamental inability to respect other people as equally good human beings. The next step is to challenge the more hard-line elements within your community and get them to change their thinking, and this is the hard part. But this is something non-Muslims cannot do for you. It is a task for moderate Muslims.

The secular world treats Muslims as equal human beings, but the sentiment isn't always reciprocated, not even by many moderate Muslims. If Muslims can effect these changes within themselves and propagate these new thoughts, then the basis of conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims will gradually dissolve and disappear. You won't feel alienated and threatened anymore.

In short, guys, we love you, but you really need to fix your attitude.
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