The past few days have seen the world’s attention being diverted to Paris.
Gunmen stormed and killed 12 people in and around the vicinity of the Charlie Hebdo apartments. This was followed by another terrorist attack on a Jewish owned supermarket, resulting in the death of four more.
Having been in the ‘industry’ for a while as MAB’s President, I thought it important and urgent to issue a condemnation PR about this incident, something which Muslims have mixed feelings about. Some question why Muslims should condemn all terrorist activity, when clearly Islam doesn’t ask its followers to go killing whom they feel they should.
Indeed, looking at the biography of the man central to this event, the Prophet Muhammad – one can see the numerous times which the Prophet showed mercy and compassion, even to those literally holding a sword over his head. This is because the compassionate Prophet knew that people change and the enemy of today can become the friend of tomorrow if the person is dealt with goodness.
In this same camp was James O’Brien, a journalist and radio presenter on LBC. He gave, what some described as a “masterclass” on why Muslims need not to apologise for the terrorist attacks.
Listen to the radio podcast ‘How to Deal with People who Blame Muslims’.
Others gave us a pat on the back for such a timely response to express our utter shock and dismay of such a criminal act. I feel it’s necessary to make a statement, for many reasons. The one that drives me is that we are condemning it as a civil institution and it’s our duty to bring people together by clearly stating that this isn’t Islam.
As I mentioned earlier, the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) reaction to abuse was that he ignored it or reacted ‘positively’ because he was the embodiment of mercy. Ian Thomas, writing in the Evening Standard last week, narrates an incident – one of many – of how a horrid woman changed her ways because of good treatment.
And if you think these are old fairy tales, well look no further than Arnoud Van Doorn. Until his conversion in 2013, he was a member of the City Council in The Hague and a leading figure in Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic Party for Freedom, responsible, among other things, for producing the film ‘Fitna’ which argued that Islam and Muslims generally, are violent, intolerant and bent on world-domination. How did he convert?
He started by reading the Qur’an and was then persuaded to visit a mosque where he was surprised to find himself made welcome and ended up staying all day. “I had a wamr feeling and I was really a bit confused”, he says.
Note the word ‘warm’ – a description that the Quran uses.
Back to the Paris shootings.What one should note that – overall – it is the Muslims who are the ‘losers’ in all this. They get to carry the burden of these acts and they will be at the receiving end of the Islamophobic attacks and abuse. Additionally, they are being killed by the very same terrorists.
Studies have shown that Muslims are victims of terrorism eight times more than non-Muslims. It’s also interesting listening to the debates on freedom of speech at a time when the counter terrorism bill is going through in the UK. Muslim websites are being shut down and Muslims are being charged with terrorism for Twitter and Facebook comments. Muslim books are being banned through back doors and ideas and thoughts are being being shut down under the labels of “extremism” and the guise of Prevent – which was recently discredited by the Claystone Institute as having not worked. Professor Arun Kundnani pointed out to an invited audience of over a hundred that the idea which identifies radicalization based on religious ideology as the root cause of “violent” extremism does not stand up to scrutiny. Read our full article on this topic here.
The multi-million rally in Paris was something really outstanding. However, it reminds me of a teacher who lectures those punctual students about the importance of timekeeping and appointments. The rally was preaching to the converted. Those who are hellbent on destroying freedoms have the earplugs firmly pushed in their ears, whilst wearing their blindfolds.
Muslims ask for fairness and justice. As Europeans, we shouldn’t be hypocrites. If we rally for absolute freedom, then it must be absolute!
Je ne suis pas un hypocrite.