Dutch premier distances govt from anti-Islam cartoon contest

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch prime minister on Friday distanced his government from a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest being organized later this year by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.

Wilders “is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference.

Rutte’s comments came after angry reactions in Pakistan to the proposed contest, which Wilders plans to hold in November in his right-wing Party for Freedom’s heavily guarded offices at the Dutch parliament.

Authorities in Pakistan have lodged a diplomatic protest against Wilders’ plan, calling it an attempt to defame Islam.

Opposition lawmaker Wilders is well known for his fierce criticism of Islam and has previously sparked fury in Muslim nations with a film about Islam. He lives under a round-the-clock guard following years of death threats.

Physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad, even respectful ones, are considered blasphemous under mainstream Islamic tradition.

Rutte questioned Wilders’ motive for organizing the contest, saying “his aim is not to have a debate about Islam. His aim is to be provocative.”

However, he added that people in the Netherlands have far-reaching freedom of speech rights.

“This man, Geert Wilders, is known for testing the limits of freedom of expression. He is free to do that,” Rutte said. “The Cabinet wants to make clear it is not a Cabinet initiative.”

In a tweet, Wilders said the reaction of Rutte and the Dutch foreign minister “show that we are ruled by Islam cuddlers.” He said the contest was not meant as a provocation “but to show that we do not bargain with our freedom.”

Source: https://apnews.com/7b857dd4c94f4252ab4a0ac43405b147

Is Islam the only way to talk about Christian fundamentalism? | USA | Al Jazeera

Is Islam the only way to talk about Christian fundamentalism?
aljazeera.comJune 26, 2018 08:04 AM

If we are to speak to today’s destructive political moment, then let us do so with critical inquiry, honesty, and rigor, writes Kanjwal
Photo by: Intercept/Youtube
We really need to talk about Mehdi Hasan’s latest video for the Intercept.

In the clip titled, Caliph Donald Trump and the Rise of the Christian Taliban, broadcaster and journalist Hasan spends nearly four minutes warning his viewers about the “Christian Taliban”, or the “Bible-thumping fundamentalists who are bent on theocratising the US government.”

Using Islamic terminology, Hasan raises the alarm about the policies of the Christian right. For instance, he argues that they want “sharia law”, of the “Biblical variety”, and then goes on to speak of the multiple “mullahs” in the Trump administration, ending with “Caliph Trump” himself. In the video, Hasan also compares the use of “To God be the Glory” by the Christian right to intervene in the secular legal system to the quintessential angry Muslim screaming “Allahu Akbar”.

Hasan is not the first person to invoke Islam when speaking of extremism within other religions. He is just part of a growing group of liberals and leftists who think it’s trendy to use Islam and Muslims as a prop against religious extremism around the world, and especially in the United States.

The use of comparisons is a quick and easy way to make a point and to appeal to moderates and liberals, who are often convinced that it is religious fundamentalism alone that is the source of all evils.

And certainly, religious fundamentalists of all stripes seek to use scripture to justify their actions. But whereas the intention of Hasan’s video, for instance, might have been to give a speedy (and clearly viral) lesson about the pervasive nature of religious extremism, his use of “the Muslim extremist” tropes and attempt to rely on Islamic terms is actually quite destructive.

Hasan’s video relegates Islamic terminologies, which Muslim leaders and scholars have been working hard to reclaim, to the inaccurate definitions advanced by Islamophobes. In turn, “mullah” – which simply refers to someone who is learned in Islamic law and theology – becomes synonymous with “religious bigot”.

Sharia – which is a way of life for Muslims – is equated with the right wing’s fixation on “sharia law,” or a myopic legal system that seeks to infringe on everyone’s rights.

Caliph – which means a civic and religious leader – becomes synonymous with a fascist ruler.

“Allahu Akbar” or “God is the greatest” – a phrase Muslims say during their daily prayers – is turned into a catch-all phrase embodying religious extremism.

In a more generous reading of Hasan’s video, one could see him suggesting that double standards exist in how people respond particularly negatively to Muslims who invoke religion. But herein lies the problem of this line of reasoning: what is, then, the standard that should apply? Is all expression of religion in the public sphere “bad”? Are we then to also speak of a Mullah Martin Luther King Jr?

In a global context that is predominantly defined by the so-called “war on terror” and rampant Islamophobia, operating a few Arabic words and injecting the fantasy of your favourite Christian fundamentalists dressed up in the black robes of the “mullah” figure is Orientalism at its best.

It is as if Hasan had forgotten everything he had ever written about the Iraq war, the killings of civilians by US drones, and the rise of the right in India to join ranks with a liberal, so-called “moderate crowd” (who of course would never kill civilians or deport en masse, or turn boats with refugees away, or intervene in other countries without legal justification).

What this approach does is merely perpetuate the trope of the unthinking, radical, fundamentalist Muslim – one who has no history and politics, but only zealotry that cannot be rationalised. It then transposes that figure into a completely different historical context.

Anti-Muslim racism has become so mainstream that the use of these tropes goes unquestioned, even by those who claim to combat it. How bad must US cultural literacy be that there is no way to discuss a domestic issue without invoking these Islamophobic tropes?

Another problem with this comparative approach is that it is historically selective. It establishes Islam as the gold standard for religious extremism. It is as if religious extremism can only be understood through the actions of Muslims and, in fact, it never existed before Islam itself.

Never mind that Christian fundamentalism has historically been joined at the hip with white supremacy, functioning as a key justification for slavery and colonialism.

Never mind that the very word “fundamentalism”, was itself a term coined in the early 20th century to describe the strict observation of certain Christian fundamentals and beliefs.

Why are the “mullahs” of Afghanistan then the obvious point of departure? If Hasan’s point is to educate people that religious fundamentalism and extremism exist outside of Islam, wouldn’t this then have been a perfect opportunity to root Christian fundamentalism in its own history and language that goes far beyond the abusive policies of the Trump administration? Why must Hasan deploy the Muslim bogeyman he has so often castigated?

In critiquing Trump’s America, Hasan also claims that, “as in the Middle East, to really politicise religion, you need a bunch of politicised clerics.” Again, the Middle East, which is now synonymous with Islam and Muslims, is deployed as the only space beyond rationality.

Surely Hasan must be aware that politicisation of religion in this erstwhile Middle East occurred while its populations endured colonialism by Western powers. Or that this process of politicisation continued under the auspices of the secularising, modernising postcolonial political leadership. Or that it is not just the clerics who “politicise religion”.

These absurd comparisons also undermine critical differences in context.

Christian fundamentalism in the US emerges in a majoritarian context, in a democratic country. Its closer parallel, then, is actually Hindutva, and not the Taliban. The armed group emerged out of a civil war that the US fuelled by supporting “religious fundamentalists” it called “freedom fighters” for fighting against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Or do the facts not matter when one is in search of the formula for that perfect viral video directed at a liberal class already in denial over its entrenched Islamophobia?

Such analogies also distract from substantive critiques.

In another example, The Guardian published a column in 2015 by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, who wrote that, “India (under Modi) was being ruled by a Hindu Taliban.”

And while Kapoor raised the concern of the assault on freedom of expression, dissent and the erosion of democratic values, as well as the battering of minority groups under India’s Hindu nationalist government, his column was met with outrage in India.

In leading papers, a number of columnists condemned his use of the term “Taliban”, contending that it was offensive to Hinduism itself.

Hinduism as a peaceful religion was unlike “the kind of society or culture implied in the word Taliban,” one columnist argued.

As a result, the critical issues that the Guardian article had raised were completely overlooked. People were more concerned that offended Hindus had been compared to Muslims; Hinduism’s “peacefulness” versus Islam’s “violence” could never be reconciled.

If we are to speak to today’s destructive political moment, then let us do so with critical inquiry, honesty, and rigour. Now – when people of all faiths and backgrounds need to question their own role in perpetuating extremism and terror – is not the time for simplistic overtures.

For Hasan, who has sought to combat Islamophobia, this video ironically harps on the most basic of Islamophobic tropes. Surely, there is no need to implicate Muslims whenever we speak about religious extremism.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/islam-talk-christian-fundamentalism-180625083426106.html

Is Islam the only way to talk about Christian fundamentalism?

Is Islam the only way to talk about Christian fundamentalism?
aljazeera.comJune 26, 2018 08:04 AM

If we are to speak to today’s destructive political moment, then let us do so with critical inquiry, honesty, and rigor, writes Kanjwal
Photo by: Intercept/Youtube
We really need to talk about Mehdi Hasan’s latest video for the Intercept.

In the clip titled, Caliph Donald Trump and the Rise of the Christian Taliban, broadcaster and journalist Hasan spends nearly four minutes warning his viewers about the “Christian Taliban”, or the “Bible-thumping fundamentalists who are bent on theocratising the US government.”

Using Islamic terminology, Hasan raises the alarm about the policies of the Christian right. For instance, he argues that they want “sharia law”, of the “Biblical variety”, and then goes on to speak of the multiple “mullahs” in the Trump administration, ending with “Caliph Trump” himself. In the video, Hasan also compares the use of “To God be the Glory” by the Christian right to intervene in the secular legal system to the quintessential angry Muslim screaming “Allahu Akbar”.

Hasan is not the first person to invoke Islam when speaking of extremism within other religions. He is just part of a growing group of liberals and leftists who think it’s trendy to use Islam and Muslims as a prop against religious extremism around the world, and especially in the United States.

The use of comparisons is a quick and easy way to make a point and to appeal to moderates and liberals, who are often convinced that it is religious fundamentalism alone that is the source of all evils.

And certainly, religious fundamentalists of all stripes seek to use scripture to justify their actions. But whereas the intention of Hasan’s video, for instance, might have been to give a speedy (and clearly viral) lesson about the pervasive nature of religious extremism, his use of “the Muslim extremist” tropes and attempt to rely on Islamic terms is actually quite destructive.

Hasan’s video relegates Islamic terminologies, which Muslim leaders and scholars have been working hard to reclaim, to the inaccurate definitions advanced by Islamophobes. In turn, “mullah” – which simply refers to someone who is learned in Islamic law and theology – becomes synonymous with “religious bigot”.

Sharia – which is a way of life for Muslims – is equated with the right wing’s fixation on “sharia law,” or a myopic legal system that seeks to infringe on everyone’s rights.

Caliph – which means a civic and religious leader – becomes synonymous with a fascist ruler.

“Allahu Akbar” or “God is the greatest” – a phrase Muslims say during their daily prayers – is turned into a catch-all phrase embodying religious extremism.

In a more generous reading of Hasan’s video, one could see him suggesting that double standards exist in how people respond particularly negatively to Muslims who invoke religion. But herein lies the problem of this line of reasoning: what is, then, the standard that should apply? Is all expression of religion in the public sphere “bad”? Are we then to also speak of a Mullah Martin Luther King Jr?

In a global context that is predominantly defined by the so-called “war on terror” and rampant Islamophobia, operating a few Arabic words and injecting the fantasy of your favourite Christian fundamentalists dressed up in the black robes of the “mullah” figure is Orientalism at its best.

It is as if Hasan had forgotten everything he had ever written about the Iraq war, the killings of civilians by US drones, and the rise of the right in India to join ranks with a liberal, so-called “moderate crowd” (who of course would never kill civilians or deport en masse, or turn boats with refugees away, or intervene in other countries without legal justification).

What this approach does is merely perpetuate the trope of the unthinking, radical, fundamentalist Muslim – one who has no history and politics, but only zealotry that cannot be rationalised. It then transposes that figure into a completely different historical context.

Anti-Muslim racism has become so mainstream that the use of these tropes goes unquestioned, even by those who claim to combat it. How bad must US cultural literacy be that there is no way to discuss a domestic issue without invoking these Islamophobic tropes?

Another problem with this comparative approach is that it is historically selective. It establishes Islam as the gold standard for religious extremism. It is as if religious extremism can only be understood through the actions of Muslims and, in fact, it never existed before Islam itself.

Never mind that Christian fundamentalism has historically been joined at the hip with white supremacy, functioning as a key justification for slavery and colonialism.

Never mind that the very word “fundamentalism”, was itself a term coined in the early 20th century to describe the strict observation of certain Christian fundamentals and beliefs.

Why are the “mullahs” of Afghanistan then the obvious point of departure? If Hasan’s point is to educate people that religious fundamentalism and extremism exist outside of Islam, wouldn’t this then have been a perfect opportunity to root Christian fundamentalism in its own history and language that goes far beyond the abusive policies of the Trump administration? Why must Hasan deploy the Muslim bogeyman he has so often castigated?

In critiquing Trump’s America, Hasan also claims that, “as in the Middle East, to really politicise religion, you need a bunch of politicised clerics.” Again, the Middle East, which is now synonymous with Islam and Muslims, is deployed as the only space beyond rationality.

Surely Hasan must be aware that politicisation of religion in this erstwhile Middle East occurred while its populations endured colonialism by Western powers. Or that this process of politicisation continued under the auspices of the secularising, modernising postcolonial political leadership. Or that it is not just the clerics who “politicise religion”.

These absurd comparisons also undermine critical differences in context.

Christian fundamentalism in the US emerges in a majoritarian context, in a democratic country. Its closer parallel, then, is actually Hindutva, and not the Taliban. The armed group emerged out of a civil war that the US fuelled by supporting “religious fundamentalists” it called “freedom fighters” for fighting against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Or do the facts not matter when one is in search of the formula for that perfect viral video directed at a liberal class already in denial over its entrenched Islamophobia?

Such analogies also distract from substantive critiques.

In another example, The Guardian published a column in 2015 by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, who wrote that, “India (under Modi) was being ruled by a Hindu Taliban.”

And while Kapoor raised the concern of the assault on freedom of expression, dissent and the erosion of democratic values, as well as the battering of minority groups under India’s Hindu nationalist government, his column was met with outrage in India.

In leading papers, a number of columnists condemned his use of the term “Taliban”, contending that it was offensive to Hinduism itself.

Hinduism as a peaceful religion was unlike “the kind of society or culture implied in the word Taliban,” one columnist argued.

As a result, the critical issues that the Guardian article had raised were completely overlooked. People were more concerned that offended Hindus had been compared to Muslims; Hinduism’s “peacefulness” versus Islam’s “violence” could never be reconciled.

If we are to speak to today’s destructive political moment, then let us do so with critical inquiry, honesty, and rigour. Now – when people of all faiths and backgrounds need to question their own role in perpetuating extremism and terror – is not the time for simplistic overtures.

For Hasan, who has sought to combat Islamophobia, this video ironically harps on the most basic of Islamophobic tropes. Surely, there is no need to implicate Muslims whenever we speak about religious extremism.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/islam-talk-christian-fundamentalism-180625083426106.html

COMPARE CHRISTIANITY TO ISLAM – False Comparison Exposed • Salaam One سلام

Christianity and Islam are two great Abrahamic religions. While there are many differences, there are also many commonalities, which can form basis for mutual peaceful coexistence. God urges the followers of three Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) to work on common grounds:

“Say: “O people of the Book! (Christians & Jews)Let us get together on what is common between us and you: that we shall worship none but God; that we shall not associate any partners with Him and that we shall not take human beings for our lords besides God;” If they turn away then tell them: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves unto Him (in Islam).”(Qur’an;3:64).  

christianity-and-islam-by-taiwo-j-9-638

People with no or little knowledge of Islam and Christianity, with malicious intentions draw false comparison between Islam and Christianity to deliberately misguide the people. The TRUTH exposes the false propaganda, the reader can himself draw the conclusions. Keep reading …. [………]

Related:

Rethinking Islamophobia Islamophobia is far more than merely ‘dread or hatred of Muslims’, or ‘fear or dislike’ of the faith and its followers. Al Jazeera

e0d3a4c516084f61b95386ca849f18cb_18

“Why is a Black woman on your book cover?” asked the middle-aged, South Asian woman, shortly after I finished lecturing at an event in Michigan. The woman posing the question was a Muslim, as was the young lady featured on the cover of my book, American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, manifesting a dissonance about how Muslim identity is perceived, and misperceived, beyond and even within Muslim American communities.

The narrow racial framing of Muslim identity, deeply embedded in the American imagination and still potent today, not only converges with the rising tide of anti-Muslim animus we now understand and know as Islamophobia – but indeed, an integral part of it. Islamophobia in the United States is, in great part, a racial project, spawned by a master discourse that drove European supremacy and today powered by popular views and state policy seeking to safeguard its domestic progeny, white supremacy.

Race and racism are central to any understanding of Islamophobia, as brilliantlyexamined by sociology scholar and author Erik Love, and they configure in myriad ways with the advancement of the aggregate enterprise of Islamophobia in the United States, and beyond its borders. While racism is central, there is more at play – Islamophobia is anchored in an Orientalist underbelly that precedes the creation of the formative American racial enterprise and its modern form, and a protracted War on Terror that extends it through formal law and policy.  

Islamophobia is far more than merely “dread or hatred of Muslims,” or “fear or dislike” of the faith and its followers, and these prevailing definitions tend to fixate on explicit or irrational animus, and far too often, the activity of private actors. The role of the state, and its vast network of agencies and agents, and the fluid exchanges and interaction between the state and its polity, is central to understanding Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is also law, expressly found in its letter and hidden in facially neutral terms intended to discriminate, affixed with the state seals of approval that obliges the polity to adhere to the message that Muslim identity is presumptive of terror threat, and Islam a civilisational foil that must be confronted, or contorted in a form palatable to the state. Approaching a definition and framework for understanding Islamophobia, in all of its complexity, enables an appreciation of its numerous tentacles, and how these tentacles intersect with other forms of racism and bigotry, are extended by law and policy, and reach to colour the perspectives of not only non-Muslims, but also Muslims, and everybody and anybody conditioned by the American Islamophobia that prevails today.

Tracing the history of Islamophobia

In 2015, I embarked on the project of redefining Islamophobia, during a moment when explicit bigotry and hate violence against Muslims in the United States were emboldened by (then candidate and now president) Donald Trump. My search for a new definition, however, was less motivated by contemporary animus, but rather, my examination of “legal Orientalism,” and the centuries’ long position of US civil courts that ruled that Muslim identity was antithetical to whiteness. From 1790 until 1952, American naturalisation law mandated whiteness as a prerequisite for naturalised citizenship, and until the Ex Parte Mohriez decision 1944, Muslims were viewed as a distinct racial group that was not only non-white, but members of a faith held out to be the civilisational antithesis of whiteness.

The tropes that drove the formative legal position that Muslims were non-white, and oriented Islam as antithetical to whiteness, were “redeployed” after the 9/11 attacks. That moment that spurred the bleak aftermath that gave rise to Islamophobia as we know it today, spearheaded by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the initiation of the war on terror. Therefore, the ideas and images, distorted narratives and misrepresentations thrust to the surface after 9/11 that steer Islamophobia today were sowed and legally sealed by Orientalism, which must be understood as the mother of modern Islamophobia. In short, any discussion of Islamophobia must be prefaced by a synopsis Orientalism, and the definitions of the former grounded in its precedent system.

American Orientalism was, in large part, a white supremacist project that collaborated with anti-Blackness and Manifest Destiny to determine whiteness and define citizenship (both formal and substantive), and underneath this all, respond to the underlying existential question: who we are (as Americans), and who we are not? A question that rings at the heart of presidential slogans and immigration policy, a best-selling book by Samuel Huntington and a protracted War on Terror that provides the engine for Islamophobia in America today. Investigating this question, and the myriad actors that seek to answer it by the force of slurs, weapons or policy, steers us towards a more robust understanding of Islamophobia.  

A new definition and framework

This historical context, coupled with its modern complexity, inspired my new definition and framing of Islamophobia. Above all, Islamophobia is founded upon the presumption that Islam is inherently violent, alien, and unassimilable – driven by the belief that expressions of Muslim identity correlate with a propensity for terrorism. In addition to this foundational definition are three attendant dimensions: 1- private Islamophobia; 2- structural Islamophobia, and; 3- dialectical Islamophobia.

First, private Islamophobia is the fear, suspicion, and violent targeting of Muslims by private actors. These actors could be individuals or institutions acting in a capacity not directed to the state. Craig Hick’s murder of the three Muslim America students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2015 is a clear example of private Islamophobia, as are arsons on mosques or attacks on visible Muslims. Acts of private Islamophobia, oftentimes driven by caricatured understandings of Muslims and Islam, also menace non-Muslim individuals and institutions thought to be Muslim, such as South Asian Americans or Sikh temples.

Structural Islamophobia, the second dimension, is the fear and suspicion of Muslims on the part of government institutions. This fear and suspicion are manifested and enforced through the enactment of and advancements of laws, policy, programming, or formal pronouncements by state agents. Laws like the US PATRIOT Act or Countering Violent Extremism, the vile anti-Muslim rhetoric of President Trump and the campaigns of state congressmen to pass anti-Sharia legislation distinctly and diversely illustrate structural Islamophobia. Structural Islamophobia has been openly extended by statesman on the Right, including Presidents George W. Bush and Trump, but also democrats like President Barrack Obama, who established counter-radicalisation policing as his signature counterterror policy. Unlike private Islamophobia, structural Islamophobic policy and positions are just as often driven by rational motives as they are irrational, strategically deployed to carry forward specific domestic and international state objectives.

Third, dialectical Islamophobia is the process by which structural Islamophobia shapes, reshapes and endorses views or attitudes about Islam and Muslim subjects. State action legitimises prevailing misconceptions and misrepresentations of Islam and communicates these damaging ideas through state-sponsored policy, programming or rhetoric. Law is not merely policy, but also a set of messages and directives disseminated to broader society, instructing them to partake in the project of policing, punishing and extra-judicially prosecuting Muslims. We see this process functioning most vividly during times of crisis, such as the direct aftermath of a terror attack, when hate incidents and violence towards Muslims and perceived Muslims are pervasive.

Beyond the Cover

This definition enables an understanding of the epistemological and legal roots of American Islamophobia, and its ferocious rise during the past several decades. Just as critically, this framework enables analyses of Islamophobia as it interacts and converges with other systems of stigma and subordination, and indeed, the most ominous among them.

Beyond its popular cover, Islamophobia is everything from law to Hollywood misrepresentations, violent assaults on conspicuous Muslims and innocent bystanders wrongly profiled as Muslims. Islamophobia is all of this, but also far more. It is, above all, a fluidly shifting and intricate system that cannot be reduced to mere “fear or dislike” of Islam and its followers, who occupy a range of distinct stations in society and experience it differently, and for the most vulnerable, disproportionately.

Reckoning with Islamophobia requires situating it within the American context that feeds and foments it, which perils a broad population of could-be victims that manifest the multi-layered diversity of the country they strive to call home – against the collaborative efforts of the state and elements in society that fight to keep Muslims at the margins.

via Rethinking Islamophobia | USA | Al Jazeera

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