Islamophobia: a child of far-right often sits in progressives’ lap (Part-1)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets mourners at Kilbirnie Mosque. Photo: Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The walls of the Masjid Al Noor at Christ Church where Muslim blood had spilled has been repainted to white. More than 1,000 gun owners surrendered their weapons.

The Al Noor imam, Gamal Fouda said, “We are broken-hearted but we are not broken.” A terrorist sought to tear the nation apart but New Zealand showed itself to the world as an example of love and unity.”

Country’s chief censor, David Shanks banned the document released by the terrorist who killed 50 Muslims in two Christchurch mosques.

New Zealand truly showed solidarity with the Muslims and sat outside the Masjid while Muslims offered prayers inside.

Muslims called for prayers shortly after the attack to remember the dead.  New Zealand paused, halted and shed tears to say goodbye. The world media covered the prayer live on televisions.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood shoulder to shoulder with the families of the Muslims.

Women from all over the world wore a headscarf to at least express their disgust against the mass murder and posted their photos on social media. Woman fighting against Hijab is a different story but here women chose a way to show their solidarity with the Muslims. This also irked many so-called feminists who were sorry on the use of the hijab to promote a message of tolerance and peace.

All those are later stories. A little revisit to the question as to why at all it all took place will take us to the deeply-rooted Islamophobia perpetrated throughout the years of Global rise of the far-right.

Just after the attack, the world media referred to the terrorist as- shooter, gun-operator, a gunman, suspect, alleged killer, the 28-year-old Australian, a mad man, a depressed man or anything else but a terrorist.

Meanwhile, world-famous academicians started giving sermons on feminism in such a time. Taslima Nasreen wrote that she has considered this attack as an attack on humanity. Up until this, it was okay. However, she went on to say that those who thought that this attack was only on Muslims, wore Hijab. What Nasreen did not mention is the fact they were attacked not because they were human beings but because they were primarily Muslims. Whether Muslims at all are human beings, has also been in question for a long time now.

Forces of far-right propagated Islamophobia for years. It is entrenched so much so that on any other day, progressives will rightly say that women are and therefore must be free to wear what they want. But if women, after an attack on Muslims, wore Hijab out of their own will, these so-called progressives and feminists also fall into the trap of the larger game that condemned the move as a means of paying homage to the dead and showing their solidarity to the dead.

Iota of love shown by New Zealand may have served as healer towards the victims’ families. The Prime Minister announced that Azaan will be telecasted. It is impossible to imagine such a gesture from a country like India where a leading singer of its film industry has a problem with Azaan and the entire country agrees with him.

Consider a role reversal and imagine a Muslim killing the same number of people. What would have happened then? [In a conversation with a friend, I had asked him the same question. He had overtly said, Ah! What is there to imagine, you people always do that]. Two things I carried from the conversation. Firstly, ‘You people’ was the entire Muslim community. Secondly, ‘do that’ was to kill people. It has become as easy to say it as anything else.

However, answer to the question lies in here. The presidents of those with Veto powers would have organised a meeting calling for the Security Council assessment, televisions would have screamed against the Muslims day and night and so-called Islamic-extremism would have been a common word on everyone’s tongue. Thousands of Muslims would have been arrested without any case. Air-checking would have been tightened, the world would have been alerted and the never-ending curse on Muslims would have been aggravated manifolds. It seems that the world is till today threatened by the presence of Muslims only.

The rise of Islamophobia globally matches with the rise of far-right governments. The terrorist apparently praised Donald Trump, the president of the United States. It is no different than the killer of Akhlaq in Dadri getting the Indian National Flag shroud or the accused in Unnao rape and murder case who shares a cup of tea with the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The global rise of the far-right has made such a negative impact that whenever the word “terrorist” is uttered, automatically the picture of some bearded Muslim man flashes ahead. The dictionary lacks the word “terrorist” when it comes to referring to the one who kills Muslims. However, even when a Muslim is arrested even in a fake case, the entire community is called a terrorist. Moreover, the onus to prove that Islam is not a religion of terrorism comes handy after every “attack” by someone having a name in the Arabic language. It will not be incorrect to say that, Global War on Terror launched by the US is primarily a war on Muslims.

Yanis Varoufakis, the ex-Minister of Finance in Hellenic parliament, Greece, said, “this era will be will be remembered for the triumphant march of a globally unifying rightwing that sprang out of the cesspool of financialised capitalism.”

Whether it will also be remembered for a successful humanist challenge to this menace depends on whether the progressives of the world forge an alliance or not.

It seems that only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. May we hope that the walls of the mosques never again be spilled red with the blood.

By Amir Malik, with inputs from The Guardian, CNN, and Scroll.