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  • Technorati: graph / links

    There’s no point just being outraged


    by Sunny on 17th January, 2009 at 10:25 pm    

    Both Riazat Butt and Nesrine Malik are also right - just because Gaza is under fire doesn’t mean that all is well in the Muslim world.

    In one sense - Palestine is an easy cause for the global Muslim diaspora - because it’s a no-brainer that doesn’t involve any moral confusion. In a whole host of other issues - including human rights abuses in the Middle East and anger against other causes such as Darfur and Nigeria (inter-religious conflict) - they are curiously silent. I’m not saying that isn’t the case with Western interests either. US foreign policy is among the most hypocritical of them all - but only because they have deep tentacles. Pakistan, Syria, Iran aren’t any different.

    My point is one that I made before. Muslims lose in the global public relations war because they are yet to articulate their concerns in wider, global language. It’s a bit like the whole race relations thing as I keep saying. We know black and Asian people face prejudice - sometimes to their face and sometimes in more structural ways. But the picture is fuzzy because sometimes (middle class) Asian kids do better than working class black (and white kids) and other times racism and sexism also comes from minority groups. So the whole ‘we need unity and solidarity to solve our problems‘ thing falls apart at the first sign of internal contradiction. In other words, there’s no point pretending Muslims don’t fight with each other all the time.

    So unless we articulate those concerns - whether they be racism, sexism, Palestine, Guantanamo Bay or home-grown terrorism, in wider terms by including other people who also face those problems, then justice won’t really come.

    Well done to Riazat and Nesrine for writing such excellent articles.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: British Identity, Current affairs, Middle East, Religion, United States




    7 Comments below   |  

    1. Sid — on 18th January, 2009 at 12:52 am  

      My point is one that I made before. Muslims lose in the global public relations war because they are yet to articulate their concerns in wider, global language.

      I disagree that Muslims don’t condemn or even articulate concerns of Muslim on Muslim or Muslim on minority violence (in Muslim majority countries). I could post plenty of stuff on obscure incidents of land grabs of non-Muslims by Muslims in South Asia or the oppression of indigenous Hill-Tracts peoples in Bangladesh in particular.

      But when was the last time the BBC or ITN carried stories of the land grabs and mass displacement of people in India and Bangladesh? When was the last time people marched from Marble Arch to Kensington in defence of the rights of the Garo people, for example?

      I don’t post on that kind of material here on PP because of their very obscurity which would be met by UK-based readers with indifference. The sound of silence, anyone? There’s simply no appetite in the West for this kind of news. Here on PP they would get minimal interest, or at the very least they would a few get angry comments for their anti-Muslim or anti-Asian “tone”. Non-Muslim readers readers would largely pass them by.

    2. blah — on 18th January, 2009 at 1:38 am  

      I agree with Sid. Many Muslims DO condemn Muslim on Muslim violence .

      Sunny seems to have forgotten the protests against the butchery in Gaza also involved protests outside the Egyptian embassy as well as a great deal of criticism of the inaction of Muslim leaders. British Muslims have organised concerts and fundraising campaigns for Darfur. You may be unaware of this as you arent part of the community

      Darfur Iraq etc are often brought up by Islamophobes to say “Look they are killing each other- so why shouldnt we kill them?”

      “My point is one that I made before. Muslims lose in the global public relations war because they are yet to articulate their concerns in wider, global language”

      Muslims lose the global PR war because we have powerful media people like Murdoch or Richard Desmond who are rabidly anti-Muslim as well as having politicians who are happy to play the anti-Muslim card. After the fall of the USSR the Muslim world was designated the new enemy and the avalanche of negative media started then.

      And its not even as if people in the west have had positive images of Muslim historically. You are looking at thousands of years of inherited prejudices.

      Not much we can do about that.

    3. Roger — on 18th January, 2009 at 1:54 am  

      “But I don’t post on that kind of material here on PP because of their very obscurity which would be met by UK-based readers with indifference. ”
      Isn’t that a good reason to post it, Sid? Not only land-grabs in muslim countries, in fact, but the establishment of the majority ethnic group as privileged and superior in many Asian countries and the justification of land-grabs and genocidal behaviour in consequence and the enforced assimilation of minorities ought to be more widely known and disapproved.

      “And its not even as if people in the west have had positive images of Muslim historically. You are looking at thousands of years of inherited prejudices.”
      Thousands, blah? Islam hasn’t been around that long.
      In fact, the defining aspect of European history has been succeswsive invasions from the East, so the hostility isn’t a prejudice but the result of historical experience with muslims and islam perceived as the most recent versions of an old enmity.

    4. kELvi — on 18th January, 2009 at 4:13 am  

      And may I remind you all about the oppression of the Hindus in Malaysia for decades now? Asma Jahangir and Irfan Hussain in Pakistan, or MJ Akbar, Syed Shahabuddin, and Saeed Naqvi in India are all Muslims, and they do on every occasion condemn the state-sanctioned violence against Hindus in Malaysia. But then the question has never been about Muslims as individuals.

    5. halima — on 18th January, 2009 at 2:42 pm  

      I mentioned soemwhere else.. it’s a strange argument .. black people shouldn’t get angry at racism while they remain silent on issues while suferring goes on elsewhere…? Because?

      It’s like me saying PP can’t really go on about discrimination and disadvantage facing Asians in the media because they don’t discuss Darfur.. I mean, come on.

      The whole world should be talking more about Darfur - so why single out the Muslims because they see outrage in Gaza?

      How many articles have we seen in Pickled Politics on Darfur? I might’ve commented a few times this site doesn’t engage enoough with these issues, sure, but I can’t be saying Picklars don’t have a monopoly on racism and isms against South Asians because they don’t discuss Darfur - and hold on - quite a large section of South Asian communities are actually quite racist against Africans generally.

      And I don’t understand why anyone would want to cheer these journalists? because we’re slightly uncomfortable protesting on a cause where our bedfellows are also Muslims - and Muslims that identify strongly with their religion?

      Who is the audience for these articles? Our we projecting something about ourselves by drawing the distinctions - we support Gaza but we are not like the.. so and so ’s

      PS and everyone knows that what we call care of ethics normally starts with what people identify closest to themselves - that’s why the response to tsunami in Thailand was so great - westerners actually recognised and held memories of their holidays.. and this is why the response to environmental issues will always be so weak .. because people fail to make the link to distant others.

      Conversely - you could argue it’s great that Muslims can look beyond the nation-state and identify with a citizenship that isn’t so narrowly constructed around self-interest.

      I disagree with the sentiments of these articles.

    6. aji — on 18th January, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      I totally agree with what Sunny has said. The Arab nations have shown during this conflict that the plight of the Palestinians is simply for domestic consumption. When it comes to the crunch, they can do little. Their people may protest on the streets but it’s a different story as far the Arab governments are concerned.

      As long as Arabs, and Muslims in general, keep turning to hard-line clerics for emancipation and guidance, they really aren’t going to get very far. The Americans and Israelis will have no problems ruling the roost, not only bombing them every now and then, but provoking internecine conflicts between different Muslim groups.

      The atheist and socialist Tariq Ali goes as far as suggesting Islam needs a reformation:

      “We are in desperate need of an Islamic Reformation that sweeps away the crazed conservatism and backwardness of the fundamentalists but, more than that, opens up the world of Islam to new ideas which are seen to be more advanced than what is currently on offer from the West. This would necessitate a rigid separation of state and mosque; the dissolution of the clergy; the assertion by Muslim intellectuals of their right to interpret the texts that are the collective property of Islamic culture as a whole; the freedom to think freely and rationally and the freedom of imagination. Unless we move in this direction we will be doomed to re-living old battles, and thinking not of a richer and humane future, but of how we can move from the present to the past.”

    7. MaidMarian — on 18th January, 2009 at 6:58 pm  

      ‘US foreign policy is among the most hypocritical of them all - but only because they have deep tentacles. Pakistan, Syria, Iran aren’t any different.’

      Sunny, with all respect, you really need to look beyond this idea of, ‘hypocrisy,’ in anyone’s policy. Things do not always reconcile neatly, and they never have. Interests are not absolute, they are balances and that balance is not always neat and tidy. It has always been this way.

      Hypocricy is a laden word that carries with it a de facto implication of bad faith - it’s rarely that neat, and to be honest it should not be. It has become the sort of word that gets rather lazily thrown about. Things don’t always reconcile and there are shades of grey. In such a situation there will always be the disaffected - sad but true. The only difference between now and in the past is that there is an internet for everyone from every shade of grey to start lashing out to a global audience.

      ‘Muslims lose in the global public relations war because they are yet to articulate their concerns in wider, global language.’

      I think that terror is a sufficiently global language. The stark truth is that political Islam, rightly or wrongly, has become conflated with terror and absolutism. Frankly, not wholly without reason.

      It may well be a case of only the shrillest being heard, I imagine it is, but beyond some hazy notion of, ‘Justice,’ I honestly have no substantive idea of what these concerns actually are - still less whether I agree or not.

      I actually wonder if you are looking at this a bit too hard. Out there right now there are an awful lot of Muslims quietly getting on with their lives unmolested by shrill politics and working within civil society.

      I’m sure they could articulate concerns in a far more resonant way than shrill Islamists many of whom are almost parodies of themself.

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