#NeverForget 9/11 but… never forget the innocent Muslims lost to hatred and bigotry, never forget the war crimes, never forget that Muslim women “look like letter boxes”, never forget the Muslim Ban, never forget the cartoons, never forget the Burqa and Burqini Ban, never forget the Uyghurs, the Palestinians, the Rohingyas, the Yemenis, the Syrians, the Kashmiris and so many more.
After 9/11, there followed a war in which numerous Western countries were involved to further destabilise the Muslim world, and no, it wasn’t only in Iraq. 9/11 was a defining event in the modern history of the globalised world as it provoked an unprecedented campaign of Islamophobia, the “War on Terror”, due to the perpetrators of the attack being Muslim.
The people who had flown the planes that day had an obvious agenda in mind and ultimately gave the West validation for carrying out an unjust war in the Middle East, that which still has tremendous adverse effects on the region and Muslims, worldwide today.
Every year on the anniversary of the event, people honour the dead with #NeverForget and it’s true, people must not forget what happened, however, it is easy for people to forget the war crimes, hate-fuelled attacks, and the many Iraqi and Afghani deaths that ensued, including the deaths of Western military forces who were treated as expendable. Nearly 3000 people lost their lives to 9/11, from there it seemed a fair trade-off to kill an estimated 500,000 people in the conflicts following 9/11.
Not only were people in the Middle-East affected, but Muslims and Middle-Eastern non-Muslims living in Western countries bore the brunt of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The event changed the face of the world’s geopolitics and 19 years later, it continues to justify hatred and disrespect against Muslims – and now more-so than ever. After France deliberately went on the offensive, its many Muslim citizens now have to face a renewed sense of already-existent Islamophobia with many countries providing undivided support to France.
The worst thing for Muslims to have to see is an attack whereby the attackers claim Islam as the motivation for their actions. This issue presents itself as a vicious cycle wherein the West provokes Muslims by ridiculing and disrespecting Islam and expecting a reaction that plays into their hands in an effort to throw the Islamic identity into question.
There are some Muslims, very few, who give in to these expectations and deliver the reactions that the Westso desires, thus portraying every Muslim in the same violent light. In this vicious cycle, following the disrespect towards the religion, there is a violent reaction by a Muslim which thereafter further justifies more disrespect from the West which, sadly, will only lead to more violence. From this, it is clear that violence begets violence and there is no hopeful scenario in which Muslims come out looking good.
The more the West provokes Muslims across the globe with its atrocious opinions and interpretations of the faith, the angrier Muslims become which is a natural reaction to disrespect, just a reaction that Muslims and people of colour (POC) are not afforded. It is quite obvious that there are different rules for Muslims and POC, giving in to violence only results in violent consequences, completely contrasted with white and Christian people being allowed to act angrily and violently without even a fraction of the horrid repercussions that Muslims and POC face in the form of hatred, disenfranchisement and even death.
If one Muslim or POC does wrong, the entire group has committed the act and deserves the retribution that accompanies it. Still, with the words “Islam” and “As-salaam-u-alaikum” preaching peace and unity, it becomes a duty for a Muslim to revert the anger and keep a calm head.
It is those who are quick to anger and even quicker to act on it who commit evil deeds in the name of Allah and Islam and thereby, paint every Muslim with the same brush, those who attack others for disrespecting Islam. However, it is only a few – just a small fraction of the more than 1.8 billion Muslims on Earth – whose intentions as Muslims are impure, counter-productive and not conducive to a fair and just global society.
Those who act on their anger and act in ‘defense’ of Islam by beheading and attacking people, do Islam no service and act contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an and the wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) for it was the Prophet (S.A.W) who said that “Whoever controls his anger at the time when he has the means to act upon it, Allah will call him before all of mankind on the Day of Resurrection, and will let him choose of the Hoor al-‘Ayn whoever he wants” and “…anyone who kills a non-Muslim citizen will not smell the fragrance of paradise”.
As Muslims, we have more to lose in the akhirah (afterlife) by acting on our anger. Just as much as it is the West carrying out a hateful vendetta against Islam and its practitioners, those doing just as much damage are those who fulfill the exact expectations of Muslims in the West as “terrorists” by giving in to anger and committing evil deeds.
It is indeed painfully difficult to rise above anger that the West provokes, especially when that anger is a result of highly offensive cartoons of the Prophet (S.A.W) in the name of freedom of expression, the marketing of “Allahu-Akbar” as the motto of the terrorist, the prohibition of the entry of Muslims into many places from shops to countries, the Islamophobic policing of Muslim attire, the toppling of Muslim leaders and hate-fuelled attacks that have only just begun.
It is a duty for Muslims to ask for Sabr (patience) from the Almighty so that we may face our hardships with the poise and composure expected in Islam. Muslims have every right to be filled with anger following the West’s blatant disrespect of Islam. It is not unreasonable to ask that people have a basic respect for the values of Islam wherein Muslims hold the Prophet (S.A.W) in such incredibly high regard that it is disrespectful to illustrate him in any light, most assuredly not in a defamatory light.
Your role as a Muslim faced with injustices, justified by the actions of the few against the fundamental beliefs of the many, is greater and your role in ending it is extremely important. This role is not limited to Muslims, but must be fulfilled by non-Muslims too as it shouldn’t be an expectation for Muslims to end the crimes committed against them or continuously explain their pure intentions with the hope of someone believing them.
There is a responsibility to show your economic power as a consumer by boycotting French, Indian, and American products until they have no choice but to pay attention and see the value you add as a Muslim consumer to their profit margins. When people start paying attention, they have no choice but to listen and learn, especially when their profits are being hurt because the capitalist currency is what keeps businesses and the world afloat.
Sign as many petitions as you can, if you live in the areas with the most widespread effects of Islamophobia and hatred, appeal to your lawmakers and local activist groups. Promote protests and boycotts because these acts of civil disobedience have proven effective. Educate non-Muslims, let them be aware that these issues are based on basic human rights and are of importance to human beings, not just Muslims. Continue educating yourself. Be vocal, live your life, and display your faith as a symbol of resistance to oppressive Western countries who express that Islam is repressive and limits liberty. Display your faith-given liberty by expressing Islamic culture without hesitation.
People, Muslim or not, need to show power in numbers by rallying against injustice, not only for the cartoon but for the active role the West plays in destabilising the Muslim World, among others, and the role they’ve played in creating the refugee crisis.
#NeverForget 9/11 but… never forget the innocent Muslims lost to hatred and bigotry, never forget the war crimes, never forget that Muslim women “look like letter boxes”, never forget the Muslim Ban, never forget the cartoons, never forget the Burqa and Burqini Ban, never forget the Uyghurs, the Palestinians, the Rohingyas, the Yemenis, the Syrians, the Kashmiris and so many more. Never forget that there is yet another large-scale persecution happening right now, one that the world’s leaders promised would never happen again, but this time it is being done with their stamp of approval and it has fallen on the shoulders of the people to bring an end to the tyranny that has reared its ugly head with dignity and unity.