Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Islam's selective outrage

Muslims cannot claim a monopoly on anger over the events in Gaza while ignoring the suffering of other Muslims and non-Muslims

A Muslim writer tries to do what her religion apparently cannot - spark human empathy within the Islamic community.

Much has been been written about the Gaza conflict and several pieces concern the impact that events are having on British Muslims – whether it's alienating them from the political process or driving them to radicalisation.

More than a few commenters, such as Johnton, have claimed that the UK's Muslim communities have largely remained silent on the other catastrophes and atrocities to have affected their brethren in recent times. Two years ago, at a press conference, I asked Fareena Alam of the Muslim magazine Q News why Muslims were so quick to condemn western governments for their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet appeared to show little heartbreak or anger over suffering in Darfur.

She replied that it was "shameful" the way British Muslims had responded to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan: "We can get hot and bothered about Iraq. There is a lot of information about Darfur. There is no doubt this is Muslim-on-Muslim violence. In this situation where are these values we talk about, that killing one life is about killing humanity? It is a huge embarrassment to us. We need to have a very big conversation about this."

It was a subject I explored in a podcast about attitudes towards the ummah, the global family all Muslims are supposed to belong to. In reality people only refer to it when it suits them. I remember talking to Iraqis in London who said they were criticised by fellow Muslims for having allowed western soldiers into their country. They also said they had little or no social contact with the more prosperous and established Muslim communities in the UK and that they were seen as outsiders. That they were Shia Muslims further increased their sense of isolation. So much for solidarity.

Another case of a pick-and-mix approach to the ummah involves members of the Afghan community in Birmingham. They didn't have access to local mosques or community centres where they could meet or pray. Birmingham has a larger-than-average Muslim population and you would have thought someone could give them room hire at a reduced rate.

I appreciate that conflict in the Middle East has long been a lightning-rod issue for Muslims, but Muslims don't have a monopoly on this outrage. Besides, if you believe in the ummah then be consistent – not just when you believe there to be a western enemy. Here's another thought, instead of crying foul when it's just Muslims who are suffering, why not react this way when anyone is affected, regardless of what they believe? When there's a hurricane, a cyclone or civil unrest that leaves people dead, homeless or in the grip of oppression? It is your duty to protest and react, not because you're Muslim, but because you're human. Looking after your own – and only your own – gives the lie to the idea that Islam is a religion of compassion. In fact, it says Islam is a religion of self-interest.

With thanks to Riazat Butt at the Guardian


  1. you try to some other work. fucking bakuru


    Welcome to photoshop land.

  3. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Very good article. hypocrisy of Muslims (Maldivians) exposed

  4. Anonymous11:59 AM

    kaleymennah varah asaru kohfi dho?

    muslimun konme thaneggaiviyas haaluga jehifa vaanama ehen muslim dherave hamdharudhee vey abadhuves.

  5. Anonymous5:56 PM

    I think some Muslims have the idea that rape, marital rape, honor killings and stoning for zinay and apostacy are OK and that they are all humanitarian acts carried out in Islamic countries. Muslims are so blind to realise that all people are human beings regardless of their religious beliefs. So the most atrocious acts are actually committed by Muslims, Muslim governments and fundamentalists and extremists against their own fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. Don't we need to clean our own house before we show solidarity with Muslims living in faraway lands?

  6. I am glad awareness is rising on Muslims and Islam. As a result an increasingly large number of Muslims are converting to Christianity. According to some estimates, the number of underground Christians in Iran have reached well over half the population of the Islamic Republic. As soon as the Islamic Republic collapses, Iran will become a Christian country.

    The number of Christians in Maldives has increased rapidly in recent months. A large number of underground Christians live in Seenu, Gaaf Dhaal and Gaaf Alif. Also in Haa Dhaal.

  7. Anonymous1:14 AM

    the guy above,
    Iran has christians more than half of its population?? i think you get your statistics from Disneyland. hahahaha

    and by the way, your pathetic bible has verses that can't be read on children. its total porn. read Ezekiel 23.
    let me quote the first few verses

    (The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother, And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity. And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah. And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours)

    get a life man.