Tiny minds, Trying times.

By- Romesa Qaiser Khan.

While Pakistani social media and news remain obsessed with how much base Reham Khan was wearing and whether the couple's clothes matched or not, some (a lot of)  more important things were happening in the outside world. Perhaps the worst hate wave against Muslims since 9/11 is gaining momentum in the aftermath of the Paris shootout, the gravity of which can perhaps be gauged by the most trending hashtag on twitter in the last twelve hours #killallmuslims.

While most people apparently do not think that the matter warrants any interest, this Islamophobia is day by day become a hot issue for the Muslim community worldwide. These incidents aren't isolated to Europe or Africa or whichever country they take place in, their gravity is felt by all of us eventually whether it is at the time of applying for visas for foreign studies, or pursuing internships abroad or even in interactions on social media. Over time, Muslims have become one of the most hated and threatened communities worldwide mainly because of terrorist attacks taking place throughout the world over which we have little, if any control. Yet the term "religious extremism" continues to be applied exclusively to Muslims as if  no other people commit acts of terrorism. Statistics show otherwise. Washington blog states that 90% of the worst recent terrorist attacks of all time were carried out by non-Muslims like Anders Behring and Dhzokar Anzorovich. It further goes on to say:

  "From Fox News to the Weekly Standard, neoconservatives have tried to paint terrorism as a largely or exclusively Islamic phenomenon. Their message of Islamophobia has been repeated many times since the George W. Bush era: Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist. But the facts don’t bear that out. Far-right white male radicals and extreme Christianists are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice."                                                                                          
                                                                                                             -Alex Henderson/ Alternet

FBI statistics for domestic terrorism in the Us between 1995-2008

Yet one would be hard pressed to find mention of such incidents in mainstream media. Foreign news channels are nothing but full of propaganda and local media is nothing but tabloid sensationalism. In this deadlock, the only solace or perhaps the only voice of sanity in this circus is the occasional writer who takes out time to highlight the invisible elephant in the room. Discussing the mentality of the majority of the West is pointless, and even the people aren't to blame because they are living in glass box made of their media's design. Not all Westerners hate Muslims. But the blame games are a harsh consequence of the spoon-feeding by news channels like FOX and CNN whose reporting is inaccurate and blind-sided, to put it mildly. Self examination seems the only productive course for this blog then.

True we are not all terrorists or extremists. But why then are we so convenient to blame? Why is every reflection of our society murky and muddied? Mainly because we are doing nothing to dispel our ill-reputation. Rather, as much as we'd like to blame all extremism on the boogeyman and "yahoodi saazishes", can we really say that the mobbing and lynching of Christian minorities over alleged blasphemies, the genocide of Hazara Shias and the hatred and persecution of Ahmedis and Qadiyanis is not our doing? Can we deny that as a nation we are not intolerant and firm believers in the art of I-art-holier-than-thou?

"The largest contributor remained the security operations in various parts of the country, resulting in 3,380 deaths. Targeted killings accounted for 2,125 deaths, followed by 982 due to militant attacks, 516 in other forms of terrorism"-Express Tribune

Statistics corroborate the fact that target killings account for the second highest number of deaths after military operations. Can they too be blamed on India or US or the Jews? In a country where in every street you have another champion of Islam preaching his incomplete teachings and every person interpreting and imposing his own Islam on the other, why do we not acknowledge that our failure to be tolerant is the bull's eye on our backs that has eventually led us to this place in world history as a community of fanatics and bigots?

And compounding the problem is the other end of the spectrum, the apologists and the over-enlightened who after every such international incident take to media with slogans of "ashamed to call myself a Muslim" "The Taliban must have a reason for killing people" who are only too eager to take the blame and consider every morsel of Western journalism as the truth. Why not stop being a Muslim then? And is there ever a reason good enough to warrant taking innocent lives? The West is eager to highlight every crime perpetrated by Muslims yet how many of us know about the Norway bombings or Sikh genocide in the US only because it was not committed by Muslims? Taking time out to think and analyze is a luxury we cannot afford. The most we can do is read and adapt others' opinions as our own, flawed as they might be and then stubbornly insist on sticking to them.        

Every which way, we are fighting amongst ourselves, blaming ourselves, a disunited nation at the mercy of others, which will not defend itself or care for it's honor. The need of the hour is for us to start caring about how we portray ourselves, about what we really know about our religion and how much do we actually practice it. The old slogan of "Live and let live" desperately needs to be followed. We need to stop acting as self-appointed Messiahs of humanity and instead focus first of all on being better humans. Once we have eliminated the very essence of extremism (illiteracy and intolerance) from our society, we can then eventually help shed a better light on Islam everywhere we go. Till then there is nothing for us but to brave the storm out together and support our fellow Muslims throughout the world through difficult times. Sometimes a good thought can alleviate the hardships of an entire community in any corner of the world, like the #i'llridewithyou hashtag for countering the hatred against Muslims after the Sydney hostage situation, particularly in this age of Facebook and Twitter. Words remain the most powerful shield (not weapon) at our disposal. It is a time of crisis for our identity and very existence worldwide. Yet judging the last week's and today's headline, one would think we're no more than a bunch of gossiping Muhallay wali aunties. Spread the awareness and reset your priorities. Dealing with the monsters under our bed is much more crucial right now. Only then will there be a time of ACTUAL happiness for us, InshaAllah.

For us and for them.


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