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Chapel Hill: ‘Terrorism Is A Word Patented For The Muslim Community By The Powers That Be’

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By Abul Kalam Azad:

Just as the streets of Delhi were swarming with jubilation, and I was musing over the contours of joy I didn’t fully share, a few posts from friends in the U.S. caught my distracted attention.

Chapel Hill shooting

The deaths of three bright and beautiful people, “23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha“, described as ,“young university students, Muslims of Arab descent, and high achievers who regularly volunteered” in Chapel Hill, which is a quiet neighborhood in North Carolina”. The suspect is Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old white man. He was a neighbor of the victims and a self-proclaimed anti-theist who hated all religions. He later handed himself to the police. Meanwhile, the police surmise that the killings might have taken place over ‘a parking dispute’, while the family members of the victims assert that this was ‘a hate crime’ and that he had a history of harassing the victims.

The Islamophobic Anti-Theist

Hate comes in myriad forms. Some are explicit, naive and easily condemnable by ‘sensible’ sections of the society. And there is another kind. Subtle, like a snake that does not hiss, couched in the objective vocabulary of science, rationality and reason. This variety is very difficult to discern due to the halo of respectability attached to it, and requires a lot of conscious effort to engage with, expose and critique it. The hate of the anti-theist falls in this broad insidious category of unnoticed bigotry.

If there is any sort of politics that is purposefully pointless, snobbish and condescending, it is that of the anti-theist. God does not exist and is a mud-headed moron. So anyone who believes in God and practises a religion, devoid of their socio-political-cultural-economic contexts, is a superstitious idiot (it doesn’t matter that it includes significant sections of the most marginalized, oppressed and persecuted people).

A very narrow understanding of what religion means and signifies defines their world view and the irresponsible politics that emerge from that putrefied perceptions. Their obsession with religion, and consequent insertion of it in issues that don’t concern it, can be only matched with the likes of the religious bigots. For both of them, the world begins and ends with religion. It is amusing that most of these ‘anti-theists’ or ‘new atheists’ are privileged white heterosexual men like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

They cloak their racism and Islamophobia in the fortified robes of equality – ‘we hate all religions equally’. This illusion of equality is what empowers the abhorrent self-righteousness of their hate-filled rhetoric. In a society where certain religions and people belonging to them have been historically, systemically, racialized and other-ized, it is a farce to claim moral superiority while hiding in the shade of equality for evidently unequal people. When the critique is deliberately decontextualized, it inevitably descends into an oppressive endeavour strengthening the status quo and feeding violence of different hues.

Disposable deaths and patented terrorism

Some lives are more precious than others. So are some deaths. Why is it that most of the people who are killed for casual and not-worthy-of-death reasons like parking disputes, wearing hoodies, selling cigarettes etc. happen to be from the marginalized sections like Muslims and African-Americans? Is there something in the mode of their deaths that can tell us about the value of their lives? How much hate must a person or a system engender and normalize for a racialized community like Muslims that he can kill three of them over something as irrelevant as a parking dispute? Would he have had carried the deed with such ease if the dispute was with a white Christian family? The reason for murder, many times, hides more than it reveals. These young people would be living, loving, and laughing if it weren’t for the fact that their lives are devalued, and their deaths disposable in the racist Islamophobic environment they found themselves in.

Of course no one would call this murder an act of racial terrorism, but instead precariously absolve it by calling it an aberration or an act of a mentally deranged lunatic. And no community/ideology would be asked to bear the burden of these hideous murders. Terrorism is a word patented for the Muslim community by the powers that be and none except a Muslim can be a terrorist. Terrorism (manufactured, that is) is an industry by itself that feeds the neo-colonial greed of imperialist nations and is an item of extreme media curiosity that has more buyers than sellers. Had the perpetrator been a Muslim, the news would have transcended parochial boundaries and generated heated brainstorming in places such as India where there is a bustling market for concerns of terrorism. Since its the other way around, this would just remain a murder that happened somewhere in America that has no place in our coffee house discussions or media debates, relegated to a small-letter news item in the interior of the newspaper no one cares to read, and would never be treated as a stark indication of the growing racial violence and hatred towards the Muslim community in many parts of the globe (India, included). After all, some news are more newsworthy than others.

Coming from a country that fetishizes and idolizes anything American, from underwears to undertakers, it is alarming to be reassured, again and again, that the worth of a Muslim life, and death, is something that remains the same in both the places.

Hatred unites. Like grief.

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  1. Ducard

    Mr. Obama droned Pakistan to kill thousands of innocent civilians and terrorize hundreds of thousands in North Warizistan to maim and murder, and send them in a frenzy of anxiety. Imagine living when drones are flying over your head twenty-four hours, not knowing when one would end your life. It remains a fact that 98% of victims in drone attacks were innocent civilians, as the sole intent behind the deadly act was to terrorize, maim, and murder.

  2. Ducard

    Illegal prison run in Cuba by Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama who kills children and sanctions the torture of the innocent.

  3. Ducard

    While In Guantanamo, innocent victims are tortured, abused, sodomized, forced to listen to blaring music on headphones while they are handcuffed for hours on end, given food to eat you would not feed animals, bitten by dogs, urinated upon, deprived of sleep for hours, kept in complete isolation, whipped, beaten with rods and cables, and some techniques too horrible to even describe, Abu Ghraib was pretty much the same. All the torture techniques sanctioned by the U.S. government.

  4. Ducard

    Nobody blamed Christianity when President Clinton illegally occupied Iraq, imposed sanctions, and President Bush continued the oppression, killing a total of 2 million people, 500,000 of which were children. No one brought Christianity in the middle when President Obama pounded Pakistan with drones and kills thousands of innocent civilians, and terrorized hundreds of thousands of innocent people in North Warizistan. No one talked about Christianity when innocent civilians were horrendously tortured and raped in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, when the U.S. supplied Israel with 3.5 billion dollars in aid to kill innocent Palestinians, no one blamed Christianity for the U.S. led bloodshed in Iran, the bombing in Somalia, the slaughters in Libya, the butchering in Syria, and the list is endless. The U.S. government has killed millions of innocent Muslims since decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Panama, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, etc.

  5. Ducard

    Article by John Pilger:

    For centuries now, Christian nations have been busy beating up one Muslim nation or another. In the Middle Ages they came as crusaders. Then they colonized many Muslim countries and tried to destroy their cultures and religion. During their struggle for independence some Muslims had to suffer terrible violence. The French killed about a million Muslims in Algeria because they wanted independence. In Lebanon, when Christians were in the majority there was war, but when Muslims became the majority there was peace except in the South of the country where Christians helped a foreign enemy against their own countrymen.

    What will the Christian be if the tables were turned and their lands were first colonized by Muslims and then bombed or maligned or ethnically cleansed? If the past is any guide, the answer is clear: There will be a vicious reaction and given the chance an attempt at almost total destruction of the Muslims. For in Spain Muslims lived for about 850 years as rulers. They lived with Jews and Christians for the most part in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation in promoting science and culture to the point that their work prepared for the modern scientific revolution with all its benefits for mankind. But the moment Muslims became weaker, the hate in the Christian heart came out with a vengeance. Muslims were either killed, converted, or forced to leave Spain and their heritage was as fully destroyed as was humanly possible. Before Palestine and Kosovo, there was Spain.

    Above, I have mentioned only what the Christian nations have been doing or are doing to the Muslims. But when we look at what they have done to each other or to other people any validity in their claim of being people of love and peace vanishes. The horrible treatment of the heretics and witches in the Middle Ages probably inspired the tyrants of later centuries. The native peoples of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand bear a tragic witness to what Christian nations can do to other nations and with the blessings and assistance of Christian churches. In this century alone the Western nations have fought two world wars with tens of millions dead and untold misery for the living. For each victory in these two wars the church bells rang in the victorious countries.

  6. Susmita Abani

    Well written, but slightly delusional.

    A crime committed by an atheist doesn’t equate to a crime ‘in the name of atheism’ unless it’s stated. And had it been stated, it would still be difficult to pin blame on atheism because atheism is not an organised religion with scriptures and prophets or sources that claim to be absolute truth. Atheism doesn’t claim to be divine, it is man made and extremely variable in its manifestation, and it has no single point of reference. It’s not a religion. You can only condemn the individual carrying out the crimes in its name.

    Though I agree that the deaths of Muslims or any non-Westerners are often under-reported and forgotten, the fact that religion is brought up when an atrocity is committed by an Islamist terrorist is because those terrorists instigate it. They provide religious grounding for their motives, and quite often they can extract religious philosophy to back their claims, albeit incorrectly.

    The Muslim community is always trying to detach their name from these claims, failing to adequately answer why certain parts of their religion can be misinterpreted in such hideous ways, or why they exist at all. They are always trying to redirect the attention away from themselves, and point blame on others. This shouldn’t be an “us and them” polarisation, this should be a united effort to find out how terrorists and criminals, whether Muslim or not, become the way they do, and if we can eliminate some of their motivating factors, we should try to do that.

    Just because there are elements within the Western world and Western media which are biased and ruthless, that doesn’t nullify or offset biases in the Muslim community. If you think all Muslims aren’t answerable to what their religion stands for, then why believe in Islam at all if you cannot defend its content with systematic logic and scripture-based responses?

    Too many Muslims believe without reading the Quran, or hadith, or understanding its basic tenets. Make it your responsibility to study your religion and address these issues rather than fixating on a petty blame game.

    1. Ducard

      The Muslim community is always trying to detach their name from these claims, failing to adequately answer why certain parts of their religion can be misinterpreted in such hideous ways, or why they exist at all.

      That is not true. Firstly, anything can be misinterpreted to suit one’s agenda. Muslims have always been apologetic about crimes by a very small section of it’s people, unlike many other communities. Explanations have come left, right, and center. Contrary to popular belief, the Holy Quran was not revealed in one day – It was revealed a few verses at a time. After the persecution of Muslims in Makkah for thirteen years, they escaped to Madina to save their lives and that of their wives and children. The verses about killing were revealed in the battlefield, when Muslims could no longer face torture at the hands of the barbarians in Madina. According to the Holy Quran, killing one person is like killing the whole of humanity.

      If you think all Muslims aren’t answerable to what their religion stands for, then why believe in Islam at all if you cannot defend its content with systematic logic and scripture-based responses?

      Muslims defend Islam all the time, with more than just logic. However, people of all religions commit heinous acts but it is always Muslims who must be answerable. Are Zionists running the U.S. government, Jews and Christians, answerable to killing innocent Muslim men, women, children, and the elderly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Panama, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, and a host of other countries? Why is it Muslims who must always be answerable? Are Buddhists answerable for the hidden genocide of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Burma?

    2. anku

      A lot has happened in history and will continue to happen to create future history.

      Your present comments are to an extent right. But should you not wonder why is it you have obtained this name for yourself.

      America has bombed many countries in the name of containing terrorism. But it has never come out saying we a christian nation is bombing muslims. That is is their strength and their tactic.

      But the muslim countries buy arms from the western powers (christian countries) and kill among themselves. Really sad.

      Take in india. We have two or three generations living as neighbors. Drinking the same water, children going to the same school, our parents doing business in the same locality, buying a hero honda bike from the same dealer, buying vegetables from the same vendor etc etc…. but just in the name of religion we turn against each other.

      Ducard you can come out with a reply for this comment made but I think each one of us should sit and think for ourselves. Just leave religion be itself and much good will happen to us.

      Religion or belief has always existed in one form or other. So this madness will always continue and we should learn not to loose our senses over this particular religion/belief issue.

    3. ItsJustMe

      Terrorism if it should be associated with any religion at all, it should be Islam. Because of its controversial verses which frankly anyone with common sense would understand is intended to propagate hatred towards other faiths and non believers. Take the case of the Verse of the sword for example. When a medieval document written by someone claiming to be gods messsenger is left unaltered for centuries and practised word by word, this is bound to happen. Yes Christians did commit genocide in the oast in the name of religion. But consequently vatican redacted the old testament and controversial chapters and reconstituted it to suit the modern life. Islam on the other hand, do not alter the text, do not say prophet was angry and at war during the time he wrote these verses, they go into defense mode and say terrorist misintepret it. I mean really when a verse asks you to kill all non believers or bring them to submission (slavery) and conquer all world in the name of allah. That is what “true believers” would do. ANd hence the religion for its very existence is to blame for the terrorism being associated to it

  7. ABs

    The anti- atheist viewpoint is evident, but who am I kidding? Atheists, according religious people (theists, an overwhelming majority), are scum, filth and need to treated badly. You have “glossed over”, the fact that Atheist Groups contributed to the cause of the Victims. The charities which the three victims donated to, were supported by Atheists in the aftermath of the crime, so that the work of the charities continues unabated.

    Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins both condemned the attack. The attack was not a hate crime, it was the culmination of one man’s psychopathia and was indicative of the lack of sufficient gun-laws in USA. Incase you are wondering if this is a hate crime against “minorities”, allow me to remind you that atheists lank lower on the approval scale than Muslims in American Society. Atheists have no other assertion except one which denies the existence of God. There are no “prophets”, or “saints”, in Atheism, it is a philosophical position. Blaming Atheism for the Chapel Hill murders is stupid, ignorant and one that does not have any validity.

    1. TheSeeker

      Well said.

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