Over the past few years, there have been numerous incidents which have lead to the senseless loss of human life. The perpetrator behind the incidents quite often were individuals or extremist groups that identified as Muslim. The public response to these incidents was one of outpouring grief and outrage. Questions such as “Why do they hate us?” and “How could they be so evil?” were quite common. Muslims at large found themselves apologizing and reassuring their neighbours that “This isn’t what Islam teaches”. The media at large used these incidents as the basis of their reporting for days and weeks on end.
However, there have also been “other” incidents. Incidents where the perpetrator wasn’t an ethnic minority and who didn’t identify as Muslim. Incidents where the perpetrator have been Western armed forces or their allies. These incidents too resulted in public outrage and media coverage. Yet the terminology used in the discussion and the nature of the media coverage was/is different.
When an individual or organization self-identifying as “Muslim” commits an atrocity, media coverage is widespread and lasts for weeks on end. The public’s attention is directed to how the perpetrator is Muslims. Some politicians and group even go so far as to insinuate that all Muslims are suspect. Your average everyday citizen who happens to be a Muslim is placed under a spotlight by their neighbours and coworkers and perhaps law enforcement. Muslim organizations feel pressured to repeatedly renounce the perpetrator and apologize for a crime that they:
- Had already strongly disagreed with
- Had nothing to do with
- Had most likely repeatedly renounced and apologized for in the past
In contrast, when the perpetrator isn’t Muslim or brown, their religious identity plays absolutely no role in the media’s coverage. Whereas the word terrorism might be used for atrocities committed by a self-identifying Muslim individual or organization; other words such as “mentally ill” are now used. The media might run with the stornon-newsworthy two until a new piece of celebrity gossip hits the wire.
And when innocent Muslims are the victims of the latest atrocity, the media seems to find the incidents in question non-newsworthy. If they do, words such as “collateral damage” are used.
How can a society call themselves civilized and to have the moral upper-hand if our outrage and attention spans are dictated by the ethnic and religious identity of the perpetrator?
Massacres As of Late:
March 31, 2018: 18 Palestinians killed and 1,400 injured at the Gaza – Israel border when Israeli soldiers open fired on protesters commemorating the Nakba with live ammunition.
April 1, 2018: 17 Kashmiris killed and more than 70 wounded by Indian forces during protests.
April 2, 2018: A US backed air strike by the Afghan forces on a religious school in the Kunduz province, resulted in the death of at least 75 to 250 people. An estimated 35 to above 150 (from different sources) CHILDREN were killed in the attack. The children were local students who had gathered for a graduation ceremony to mark their achievement of memorizing the Holy Quran. The current justification by the Afghan army is that no civilians were present and only members of the Taliban had been killed.
The Moral Question
How can we, our allies and their forces morally justify the killing of children and civilians to kill a few suspected members of the Taliban?
- Pray for the innocent souls murdered and massacred in the past few weeks. Pray that their assailants be brought o justice in this life and the next.
- Contact our local MPs as well as media outlets to demand that these incidents be condemned and reported on without bias.
Dr. Mukarram Zaidi
Canadian Muslim Research Think Tank
Think for Actions