The system is rigged. It’s rigged against the poor. It’s rigged against brown people. Against black people. And it’s certainly rigged against us Muslims. Everybody knows it. But the media won’t say it. Worse, they are complicit. Very complicit.
One situation that has showed us just how rigged the system is, was the recent face-off between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov and in particular, the media’s reaction, which, tellingly, seems completely counter to the wave of support that Khabib has received from both Muslim and non-Muslim fans online.
Please do not tell me it was “just a fight”. It was a public event of the highest importance, a milestone of contemporary popular culture. And it is particularly significant because it has demonstrated again in a painfully obvious manner the double-standards that are applied between non-Muslims and Muslims.
In the weeks before the fight, MrGregor insulted Khabib’s country, religion, and family. No one did or said anything. There was no real public outcry, nor much less a real word of condemnation from the UFC or the mainstream media. “It’s normal,” they said. Ok. Then Conor called Khabib’s manager a terrorist. Again, the reaction was something along the lines of “these are normal provocations that always happen before fights”. Fine. In April, Conor, along with some thuggish companions, stormed Khabib’s bus, breaking a window and injuring some of its passengers. Only a minor disciplinary action followed. One would have thought that McGregor could not stoop any lower. But during the weeks before the fight, it actually got worse.
During a conference McGregor, knowing full-well that Khabib is Muslim and does not drink alcohol, offered him some whiskey (of his own brand), which was both a publicity stunt and another display of his insulting, provocative style. UFC’s Dana White could only muster a tame attempt at stopping McGregor. It is well known that McGregor is Dana White’s main protégé. Khabib rebuffed this cheap provocation with posture and cordiality. McGregor then said that Khabib must be boring at parties, and called him “backwards”. There was not even a hint of outcry. McGregor also insulted Khabib with terms so vulgar and futile that they cannot and won’t be reproduced here.
Khabib maintained his posture and poise throughout.
The fight comes. Khabib defeats Conor. Decisively.
After the fight, with all the adrenaline rushing through his veins, Khabib loses his temper, and jumps into the area from where the McGregor team was watching the fight, attacking them. Was it an error? Yes, it probably was, but it was much less shocking than McGregor’s cowardly attack on Khabib’s bus, and it was a response to some extremely severe provocations and abuse that went on for months and continued during the fight.
Much worse has happened before. McGregor himself has previously attacked a referee. But after this fight, which was supposed to be “the biggest in UFC history,” they didn’t even give Khabib the belt at the end of the fight, as is the custom at the end of the fight. The worst insult of all is that they denied him what would have been his ultimate moment of glory, the crowning of a life of hard work. They escort him out of the arena without him having his moment of glory, using the excuse that there could be a riot. 27-0. That is his record now. He is the undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion.
Lo and behold. Suddenly, all of the same commentators who ignored, or even simply scoffed at McGregor’s ignoble behavior, not only before this fight but throughout his career, become highly concerned with ethics and good behavior when the time came to criticize Khabib’s only known transgression. “My goodness,” they say. “What a lack of respect!” “What a lack of sportsmanship”.
But the Internet is not falling for it. Most people see right through this downright hypocrisy.
In stark contrast to McGregor’s absolute arrogance, Khabib spoke of his victory with incredible humility and posture. And yet we are supposed to believe he is the villain, and that McGregor is the hero.
What a shameful hypocrisy.
There is a reason why this fight has resonated with Muslims worldwide in such a profound manner. In a time when Muslims are under attack from all sides, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the example of the kind of feisty, disciplined and dignified role model we all need.
Khabib is fierce and yet gentle, honourable and yet not one to be messed with. The Khabib fight showed us once more that we cannot expect fairness from the Western mainstream media. Most importantly, the manner in which Khabib is reacting shows us that we can only rely on our principles, whilst being ready to defend ourselves and the honour of our families and our religion. Because the system won’t be fixed anytime soon. But through perseverance, dignity and hard work, we certainly stand a chance of winning the good fight.