Time for Arabs and Muslims to look in the mirror

Wake up and face reality

Nureddin Sabir, Editor, Redress Information & Analysis, writes:

On 19 March a 27-year-old Afghan woman called Farkhunda was beaten to death by a mob, allegedly for burning the Koran. Here is how one newspaper described the scene, which had been captured on a mobile phone camera:

[She] lay on the ground beneath the flailing, kicking feet of dozens of men. Her face swollen and bright with blood, she attempted to stand and plead for mercy. But her attackers… kicked her back and exchanged their feet for stones and wooden planks. Before it was over, Farkhunda’s body would be thrown from a rooftop, run over by a car and then set ablaze on a bank of the muddy Kabul River.

As it turned out, Farkhunda had burned nothing. She was murdered for no reason. At her graveside, an Afghan Interior Ministry official, General Muhammad Zahir, said no evidence had been found to support the allegations against her.

“We have reviewed all the evidence and have been unable to find any single iota of evidence to support claims that she had burned a Koran,” Zahir said, adding: “She is completely innocent.”

Farkhunda’s lynching is the latest and most shocking known instance of Muslims murdering and rioting in response to claims of the desecration of their holy book or mocking of their prophet, Muhammad.

From the Danish cartoons of 2005 depicting Muhammad, to the anti-Islamic movie trailer of 2012 – the Innocence of Muslims – to the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris in January this year, the outcome is the same: Muslims claiming “hurt” because of the alleged insults to Islam go on the rampage and kill or get killed in the violence they instigated.

Hurt or not is besides the point, as is the fact of Farkhunda’s innocence. The point is, if we can mock secular icons and ideologies than why not religion as well – be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any other religion? Why should religion have a special status and be beyond criticism and parody?

The fact that Muslims in particular are unable to tolerate parody and mockery is at least a reflection of their own cultural and societal backwardness as it is of the racism of those who single them out.

Intolerance is ingrained in every Arab and most Muslims from childhood: you can’t question your father; you can’t question religion, even if all you’re doing is asking for the logic behind something; you can’t question your teacher; you can’t question your government; you can’t question anything. All you can do is blindly obey and rote-learn, rarely ever knowing the reason why. You grow up with one “truth”, one ideology. Everything else is false, evil and, in the case of the Islamist cutthroats, has to be destroyed.

That is how the likes of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, the brainless morons who lynched Farkhunda and the murderous imbeciles who attacked Charlie Hebdo come to infest our lives. And, along the way, they deliver a great propaganda victory to every racist, Islamophobe and Zionist.

It’s time we – Arabs and Muslims – accept direct responsibility for our ills, or we will sink even further. It’s true, the US and the West in general have much to answer for but so have we, each one of us. It’s time we reflect on how we got ourselves into the cesspit we currently inhabit. Being in denial, and finding scapegoats for our own self-made problems, will get us nowhere. We’ve been in denial for half a century or more, and look where it has got us.

The Arab and Muslim worlds are the most backward on earth, and they’re going even more backwards. Compare where we were in the 1960s and now – we’ve gone backwards at least 50 years and are still hurtling in reverse gear.

We can go on blaming everyone else – imperialism, colonialism, Zionism, Iranians, infidels, Martians, the moon – it won’t get us anywhere.

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