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This is not about Islam 1

Noor

Having seen so many negative views in the media regarding Islam, for me, as a Muslim woman, your article ‘This is not about Islam’ [PN 2592–2593] was indeed very refreshing to read. It has been well researched and presented.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

This is not about Islam 2

Rakesh Prashara, Newcastle

Thank you for your front page article ‘This is not about Islam’ in the last issue of Peace News.

As an Asian living in the UK, I experience racism every day in one form or another. It’s something that gives you a thick skin but also has made me wary of trusting people.

Most young Asian people are subjected to a similar experience, but those that are the ‘black sheep’ of their communities find it more difficult as they are unable to approach peers to talk and contextualise their experiences.

Terrorism in the name of Islam has exacerbated the situation. Now, being a brown person means that you might be a terrorist or have sympathies for them. Hashtags like #NotInMyName may be helpful to populations of western countries to show people we are not all the same, but after recent terrorist attacks in Belgium and France that were carried out by European nationals, action is needed to change the way Asian people are treated in Europe.

Stop alienating us, we are also the victims just like you. Let’s work together to change the playing field by supporting the people within our society that are targeted by these terrorists and their ideologies and thus starving them of the martyrs that they so heavily rely on.


This is not about Islam 3

Salih Ibrahim, London

A very small minority of the fundamentalists from all the violent religions that talk literally about endless torture in hellfire (I notice that major sects of Christianity over the last few decades have stopped mentioning hell) will continue to commit atrocities similar to those we witnessed in Western Europe.

These tormented minds are so mentally brutalised, I presume by growing up in authoritarian households of marginalised communities, that they want a quick way out of their miseries, ie fast forward to reach endless bliss in fictitious paradise.

The IS warriors proceed with violence when they notice that vacuous institutions like the United Nations and the complicit silent spectators (sheeple) in western countries are doing nothing to stop atrocities being committed by Syrian, Iraqi, American, British, Russian and other governments.


This is not about Islam 4

Muzammal Hussain, Wisdom In Nature

As a Muslim, I am grateful for the informative, well-researched, cover article written by Milan Rai titled 'This is not about Islam' [PN 2592–2593]. I particularly valued the attention given to actually explore and understand the backgrounds and histories of individuals who have committed violent acts under the banner of the religion. This effort curiously revealed, as Milan pointed out, that this group, rather than being expert practitioners of Islam (as one may be led to assume), actually often have little understanding of it.

While this pulls the rug away from under the feet of the notion that Islam is the enemy, it gives us a clearer and vital map of the kinds of people who carry out violent actions under its name, and reveals that it is not Islam that is the cause of the violence, but more typically a climate of injustice and feeling of a lack of belonging.

Those still imprisoned in a mindset attempting to legitimise military operations abroad, and restrict voices of dissent, will easily find ways to demonise a group of people and make them feel less welcome, lending fuel to a climate that invites a reaction, perpetuating familiar cycles of violence from both sides. It is our role, if we are to be agents of a more peaceful, just world, to take a different path. Milan rightly points out the essential need to stop violent assaults on Muslim communities around the world.

It is my prayer that this also be an opportunity to actualise the path of real listening. It is by suspending assumptions about the other – whoever the other is – by deeply listening to one anothers’ needs, grievances, beliefs, histories, pain, passions, that we can really connect, understand, empathise, diffuse tension, be moved to respond with wisdom, and create a welcoming diverse space that nurtures a sense of belonging for everyone – and is part of the mix for the peaceful, just world that we wish to build – part of the common humanity that Milan mentions in his piece.


This is not about Islam 5

Khosrow Poolad

In a statement, before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Rachid, a 31-year-old Algerian rebel (The Guardian, 9 March 2003), made an important point: ‘Algerians admire Osama for shaking the notion that the superpowers are invincible.... It takes more than the speeches of bin Laden to turn an Islamist into a terrorist. It takes years of feeling abused. To make me kill, my torture needs to be personal. To send me into a fury, I need flashbacks of suffering, not empty ideological concepts. The Algerian government’s tyranny has made the struggle feel real enough. Terrorist volunteers came running because of the blood that they tasted on their punched lips.’

Earlier, in his 1997 television interview with Peter Arnett (CNN), bin Laden, replying to why he has called for jihad against America, said: ‘The United States has committed acts, extremely unjust, hideous and criminal, through its support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and we believe the US is directly responsible for those killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The US today has set a double standard, calling whoever goes against its injustice a “terrorist”. It wants to occupy our countries, dry our resources, impose agents on us to rule us, and then wants us to agree to all these. If we refuse to do so it says we are terrorists. When the Palestinian children throw stones against the Israeli occupation, the US says they are terrorists. Whereas when Israel bombs the United Nations building in Lebanon when it was full of children and women, the US stopped any plan to condemn Israel.’

There is not a hint of negating Christianity or having a world dominated by Islam.

The main problem is not religion; of course Islam condemns suicide bombing of innocent people.

Religion can always be abused to maintain power, it is as old as history can record.

Islam having become the terrorists’ motto has also become the western politicians’ scapegoat to avoid questioning the moral collapse of western foreign policies in the Middle East or in the Levant.

The Muslim communities in Europe are not perfect, but are under attack.

On the one hand they face poverty, poor housing, high unemployment, cultural clash, Islamophobia based on preconceived misconceptions and anti-Muslim prejudices.

On the other hand, faced with identity crisis in the west, national identity and British culture, they experience a clash between tradition and modernity within. They are constantly reproached for the violence, blamed for not showing communal responsibility, which, given the surge in violent anti-Muslim hate crimes, amounts to ‘collective punishment’.

Many Muslims are traumatised; migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon who have either lost loved ones or are displaced due to war, political or economic crisis caused by western military invasions. Not only are they suffering from flashbacks and nightmares, they are also torn culturally while being violently attacked, denigrated and alienated by the very societies whose moral delinquency has contributed to their crisis of identity and displacement.

What they often experience is a racist, consumerist, emotionally-repressed, snobbish society in the grip of its dying colonial culture in which guilt and moral responsibility are empty phrases, especially when it concerns invasions and carnage.

Considering the UK’s support for US foreign policies in the Middle East; the UK’s continuous support for Israel’s violent apartheid, granting of diplomatic immunity for its alleged war criminals and even banning the boycott of Israeli goods; the UK’s support for Arab rulers, and arms sales to the Saudis while military attacks on civilians in Yemen continue; the UK’s complicity in Bahrain’s human rights abuses; and the UK’s involvement in Syria – to give a few examples – and the intimidation of the Muslim community, it is unlikely to see any improvement unless there is a comprehensive review of British foreign policies and attitudes.