Another really excellent guest post from Shazia Hobbs the author of the novel ‘The Goris Daughter’. There’s very little need for much of an introduction from me to this piece except to say that it is brilliant.
The stupid it burns – By Shazia Hobbs
I deactivated my Twitter account. The news I read depresses me and the comments people make on the depressing news some times depresses me even more. Social media really shows how depressingly stupid the majority of people who use it are.
Another terrorist attack in Berlin this time, killing 12 innocent people and injuring many others and media, BBC and Sky, to name two reported it as ‘a truck has crashed into a German Christmas market.’ A truck? A fucking truck?
Before the identity of the truck driver was revealed, social media had already decided he was of Muslim heritage. Many were outraged that Muslims were once again being blamed for this carnage. Never mind that it was similar to the terrorist attack in Niece carried out by another truck, killing 86 people, many of them children and injuring 434! The driver of that truck was a Muslim and ISIS claimed responsibility.
Many, it seems, are always outraged, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, at the fear of Islam, acts like this, instil in us. The Islamophobia card comes straight out and is waved by all and sundry. The innocents who have been butchered in cold blood, while the killers cried ‘Allah Akbar’ – Allah is great,’ have been forgotten already and it is the Muslims we need to feel sorry for, the backlash they will receive. A backlash that never really materialises.
Bristol city officials have upped their police presence in their city centre to tackle any Islamophobia as a result of this attack. I can understand why people are disgusted by this response. The way our government is dealing with the problem of Islam is a laughing joke on social media; the way Muslims and non-Muslims interact with each other on social media is frustrating. Facts no longer mean anything and if someone disagrees with you then you are a racist. I was told I was a racist and when I pointed out that my father was Pakistani, I was asked so what. I laugh at the accusations of ‘racist’ because I am the proud daughter of a white woman and a Pakistani man and I love both sides of my heritage. I am a racist in the eyes of some because I criticised Islam, a religion, not a people. But hey these days it is possible to be racist towards Islam.
Islam has many privileges here in the UK, we are not allowed to insult, we are not allowed to host ‘Draw Mo’ competitions, we are made to feel scared if we dare to offend this special religion and its followers. People have anonymous accounts to enable them to speak freely because if their identity was known then they might lose their jobs, they fear for their safety, or they are Muslim and do not wish to be alienated in their communities.
We give hate preachers, who are banned from preaching their hate in Pakistan, a visa and allow them to preach their hate to Muslims here. Yet we stop people who want to talk about the evils of Islam, from entering the UK. We refer to all who dare criticise Islam as the ‘far-right’ and liken them to Hitler.
Saying that Islam is evil doesn’t mean all followers of Islam are evil. Islam is an idea, a religion, a thing that has no feelings, cannot be offended. People have feelings and people can be offended. If insulting an idea causes you offence and makes you want to kill and silence those who are criticising then the problem lies with you.
Some Muslims follow Islam and they are loving and peaceful people, I shouldn’t even have to say this but say I must because instead of focusing on the problem people will say ‘Not all Muslims.’ As easy as that the debate shuts down and smearing tactics continue and any reasonable solution to the problem of Muslims killing in the name of Islam doesn’t happen.
It doesn’t happen for a number of reasons and one of them is that Muslims are unable to criticise their religion, their prophet and their Allah. Strangely though there are many Muslims who would kill you for insulting their prophet and not bother so much when you insult Allah. For these Muslims the prophet is given more respect than the creator who supposedly created him. Madness. But then again many of these Muslims are mad. You have to be mad to take a lorry and drive it into people, causing utter terror and carnage. You have to be mad to video yourself with your two young daughters who you have brainwashed into thinking that blowing themselves up in a crowded place killing innocent people is what Allah desires, what makes him happy. They see no irony in their claim that their religion is peaceful while sending their small daughter to be blown up.
Growing up in a Muslim home I never questioned any doubts I may have had about Islam and religion. As a child I was never really allowed to question anything and so I believed the stories I was told and heard about the prophet and life in the 7th century. I left Islam in my early 20s when I was disowned for leaving a forced marriage. I created a new life for myself amongst the white people as my Pakistani father and community had decided I was no longer welcome. I wore Western clothes, I went clubbing, I smoked and drank and I dated. I would still tell people I was a Muslim, just not a very good one.
When white people criticised Islam in front of me it annoyed me and I was ‘offended.’ Laughable I know but the indoctrination runs deep. I wonder if people from other faiths who have left their religion feel the effects of indoctrination in the same way? Do Catholics get offended when you mock their Saints? Do Jews get offended when you eat non-kosher meat in front of them?
As a Muslim your duty since you were old enough to understand was to defend Islam against insults, you may not have been told it directly but it was just something you knew, subconsciously perhaps. Those around you, family, friends and those in the wider community spoke highly and respectfully about the prophet and Islam. Growing up I never hear a bad word uttered about the prophet, no one ever discussed whether there were parts of Islam that could be reformed. It was perfect as it was and needed no altering or changing. That’s not to say all Muslim families were like my family and I know there are families that debate the tenets of Islam. What people sometimes forget is that Muslims are human and like all other humans are unique. Idiots and evil people exist in all of the races as does goodness and kindness, and the Muslim race is no different.
I stared questioning Islam a few years ago and became aware of people leaving Islam, Ex-Muslims is what they called themselves. I had never heard of this way of describing yourself. I started reading blogs and connecting with people on social media. Finding other people who had the same questions as me. ‘Why would Allah create us to make us suffer in the hell fire forever more? Replacing our scorched skin with new skin so we may feel the pain for eternity?’ ‘Why is hell fire full of women?’
When I asked that question the Muslims in my life would say ‘because women are responsible for seducing men and because they are bad for gossiping.’ Women are the naughty ones while the poor men can hardly control themselves. No wonder Allah has 72 virgins waiting in heaven for them.
Even though I no longer say I am a Muslim, good or bad, a tiny part of me still gets ‘offended’ when Islam is insulted. Blame it on the indoctrination. I did say it runs deep. So when I see people demanding that Muslims, in the public eye and the media, say Islam is bad and their prophet is not a good role model, I can understand why they won’t. Even if they secretly have doubts, they will never do this. To insult the religion means, for some, that they will no longer be welcome in their family, their friends may shun them and their community most certainly will no longer welcome them. In the Muslim community people don’t generally sit around discussing the flaws of Mohammed or the flaws in the Quran, they sit and praise him and pray five times a day. The religious scholars say without five times a day prayer you are not a good Muslim.
In Muslim majority countries those who insult Islam are jailed, flogged and killed. Raif Badawi is a Saudi writer known for his blog, ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ and I, as have thousands of others, have signed many petitions to free him from jail and weekly lashes. His crime is that of insulting Islam and apostasy charges. How many others have signed the petition yet still believe Islam is peaceful? If Islam cannot be shown to be peaceful in Muslim majority countries what makes these people think it will be peaceful in the western countries? You can cry that this is not Islam all you like but when Muslim majority countries dish out the same punishment for ‘crimes’ then Islam is the problem. The rulers in Saudi Arabia have jailed Raif Badwai, the rulers in Pakistan would have done the same, and the rulers in Iran would have done the same. In Iran they hang gays from cranes, ISIS throw them off tall buildings. The atrocities are never ending and yet it is Islamophobic to bring light to them.
To refuse to name Islam, as the problem for fear of offending your fellow Muslims is dangerous and just makes you look stupid and the stupid it burns.