The first news reports were hard to process; too horrible to be believed. Through tweets and texts and news alerts on the morning of Monday June 7, we learned that a Muslim family had been murdered on a residential street in the small city of London, Ontario. They had been out for a walk on the previous evening and had been targeted by a young white man. The police were calling it a hate crime. Five people had been attacked. Only the youngest child survived.
An alliance between feminism and nationalism may seem unlikely to some. Usually, nationalists are not particularly concerned with women’s rights or gender equality and feminists would be opposed to nationalist positions. However, feminists and nationalists were both complicit in the recent vote in favour of the Swiss “burqa ban”. This alliance entails a blurring of right-wing and left-wing positions and has to be seen as a sign pointing to the erosion of fundamental conditions of liberal democracy.
Israeli aggression in Sheikh Jarrah has cast the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood into the international spotlight. Videos celebrating Palestinian resistance tactics, capturing the horrors of airstrikes in Gaza, and detailing intrusions upon Masjid al-Aqsa have since proliferated across social media. These scenes have reignited long-standing contestations over how to narrate Palestinian dispossession and struggle. One such debate orbits around an ambiguous question: “Is Palestine an Islamic issue?”
The cancellation of the LUMS conference in Pakistan, which was supposed to bring to the fore the war of 1971, is a case of Pakistan’s elite betraying the people of Bangladesh. The conference sought to mark 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan before it was cancelled, presumably, under the direction of Pakistan’s powerful military. Meanwhile, at least 17 Bangladeshis died at the hands of government security forces while protesting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Bangladesh, held under the pretext of celebrating the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.
After white nationalists, inspired by former President Donald Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol on 6th January 2021, it has become fashionable in liberal circles to denounce this insurrection as ‘domestic terrorism’ and compare it with foreign terrorism, inspired by groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). From a distance, the comparisons might seem obvious: political violence, agonistic ideologies, false realities, heroism, alienation and social media addiction. These comparisons have sparked a demand in the United States to criminalise ‘domestic terrorism’ as it does with foreign terrorism and escalate controversial Obama-Biden counterterrorism programs under the new Biden-Harris administration.
Measures of social inequality, crime surveys, polling data, reports on media bias, all consistently show that Muslims face obstacles which limit their ability to fully participate in society as equals. For too many Muslims, Islamophobia is unnamed but experienced. Its effect ranges from everyday slow burning micro-aggressions to eruptions of violence and murder; its scope extends from classrooms and workplaces to neighbourhoods and state frontiers, from print and social media to the public square. Muslims find themselves framed by Islamophobia in the form of questions around national security, social cohesion, freedom of speech, gender inequality, and cultural belonging. All this, we know already.
Published by: Pluto Journals
On 12th December 2019, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) was signed by the president of India, after being passed through both the houses of parliament. It provides an opportunity for obtaining citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, or Jains who are ‘illegal immigrants’ from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and who have been residing in India since before 31 December 2014. Muslims are selectively pushed outside the purview of granting citizenship under this Act. Simultaneously, there are serious attempts to implement a National Register of Citizenship (NRC), which will result in a large chunk (almost 2 million people in Assam alone) of the population being devoid of citizenship rights altogether. Of these excluded populations, the non-Muslim communities can obtain citizenship through CAA, while Muslims will be bereft of their rightful place in India.
In late October 2020 French authorities raided the homes of suspected ‘Islamists’ – a term that is hardly distinguished from anyone that practices or speaks out for Islam, and police held children aged ten without clear reasoning other than the notion that these children might be radicalised. Clearly, even children are not exempt from Islamophobia in France.
In the midst of the global pandemic, France still finds time to continue its intense focus on Muslimness in the country. Following his earlier comments around alleged Islamic separatism, on 4th November 2020 French President, Emmanuel Macron, wrote in the Financial Times “Visit the districts where small girls aged three or four are wearing a full veil, separated from boys, and, from a very young age, separated from the rest of society, raised in hatred of France’s values.”
It is difficult to feel sympathetic for dystopian fears in the US that the empire is dying and that this time it is for real. The pandemic has certainly made palpable the cracks in Euro-American coloniality; but since crisis is what capitalism is made of, we should not be too quick to succumb to its liberal threats that its demise will take everyone with it. We have heard this tale before. If Muslims survived the fall of the caliphate and communism, the collapse of racial capitalism may actually be an auspicious moment to think through the bonds between peripheries along the traces of unfinished decolonization projects.