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The Game of Labeling Others

March 19, 2009 by  


By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-chief

If I write a column arguing that  the recently indicted Bernard Madoff, a Jew by birth, cheated mostly Christian investors of billions of dollars, you will rightly call me crazy.

If I argue that some Jewish religious organizations that received money from Madoff were thriving on the loot, you will rightly call me insane.

If I whisper that Madoff was a supporter of Israel and his intention was to financially help Zionists by looting the gentiles, you will call me a lunatic and an anti-Semite.

If I say that Madoff was a family man who was trying to support his family and community, who are always the victims of anti-semites, you will definitely ridicule me..

If I say that Madoff was reading the Jewish scriptures and using some that are critical of gentiles to launch his ponzy schemes, you will definitely call me a mad man and rightly so.

Similarly, If I argue that the gunman who shot 10 people dead in Alabama was a devout Christian and he killed all those who in his view were not practicing Christians, you would hate me for that.

If I write that he acted on the basis of his reading of the Bible where the Lord had condemned all those who deviate, you would call me ignorant. If I say that several Biblical passages incite people to act violently and lewdly, you would ridicule me and rightly so.

Now replace “Madoff” with “Hussein” and “Jew” with “Muslim” and “Jewish” with “Islam”. Many would then agree with what are lies, would say Islam promotes these kinds of acts and would ascribe false and negative messages to the Holy Qur`an. This is what many writers and intellectuals in North America and Europe have done for the last several years.

Since they do not allow any counterargument, and the voices of Muslims are weak in challenging their absurdity, and average people do not care much about these things, they get away without being called crazy, insane, ignorant, anti-Muslim or Islamophobic.

You may say that this a weak argument because those Muslims who are killing innocent people are calling it an Islamic act.  This argument is a biased one, because for every act of terrorism, millions stand to condemn it. If 675 people are killed in the United States every week because we have the freedom to own guns under the second amendment, and the killers call it a constitutional freedom to kill, do we give any credence to their statement?

Will we hold democracy responsible for this?

But when it comes to Islam and Muslims, many of our pundits and experts and analysts indulge in the most insane, bizzare and crazy analysis without being questioned. Instead they are often rewarded for their garbage.

Their analysis or explanation is just another manifestation of their deep rooted prejudices against Islam regardless of what they say. They still have the notion that Islam is a primitive and backward religion because most Muslims in the world today are illiterate or poor.

They still have grossly incorrect ideas about Islam, which they have read in books written by their predecessors hundreds of years ago or said by their ignorant pastors, rabbis or religious leaders–uninterrupted, for decades.

This kind of analysis can only promote hatred and sensationalize an issue. But it would not solve a problem. For almost 9 years, we are fighting a war on terrorism which in the view of right wing Christians, Zealot Hindus, and Extremist Zionists is a war against “Islamic terrorism.” In their analysis the world faces the danger of Islamic terror.

Now look at some of the facts:

In Europe, according to a European Council report, in the year 2007, 583 failed, foiled and successful terrorist acts took place.

Out of those, four were attributed to Islamists, 21 to left wing, 1 to right wing, and 532 to separatists. How come we never heard of those terror acts committed by separatists? How come there is little analysis of those acts?

How come intellectuals like Bernard Lewis etc are silent on those other terror-related incidents?

Doubtless, our world faces a serious challenge from those who have used violence as a means to promote their political and even religious agenda. But we cannot simply hold an entire faith and community responsible for that. As long as we will continue to do that, we will never be able to understand the real motives behind acts of terrorism and, consequently, we will promote hatred and prejudices that will never enable us to face the true problems.

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