Moeed Pirzada | FB Blog |
The terrorists of the so called ‘Islamic State’ that struck in Brussels on 22nd March have created a crisis for almost everyone. Governments, institutions, political parties and civil societies all will be transformed one way or the others. But no one will be more adversely affected than the Muslims. And that is why it is important for us not only to condemn this barbarism, but also to make sense of what is happening to the ‘Muslim mind’.
First, let no explanation, whatsoever in your mind, interfere with a clarity that this act of attacking innocent, unrelated men, women and children of a country and a city – Belgium and Brussels – that has nothing to do with the contemporary or even historical conflicts of middle east, or the world at large, is simply an act of barbarity. Period. Narratives of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel Palestine and Kashmir etc etc are not attracted. Not relevant here. The supposition that ‘Muslims’ somehow are one; a monolith that feels like a wounded Goliath has no place here. This was perhaps never true but now more than ever before we need to open our eyes and realize that something totally different is happening which has nothing to do with Islam, its history and Muslims at large.
We can discuss, and dissect the issues of Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Syria etc etc, list is endless; to understand the mayhem and chaos of modernity but something far more different is happening here and it is important for all Muslims to understand this. These ‘Euro-Islamists’, these ‘Neo-Fascists’ – as beautifully summed up in Olivier Roy’s “Search for a new Ummah” have nothing to do with us, with our identity, our feelings, our grievances against west or America or Israel. No connection whatsoever. These are confused ‘products’ of Europe’s secularism, its fierce individualism and are searching for an identity that can define them, empower them; give them a ‘meaning for their lives’. Islam and traditional Muslim identity is their principal victim. Their parasitic reliance upon ‘an imagined Islam’ a ‘Khilafah’ that never existed, could not exist, provides them and the rest of the world a pretext to connect these ‘idiots’ to us. These ‘fascists’ are our biggest enemies, in all sense of the word; given their definitions of ‘Islam’ they will gladly bludgeon us to death and their rash actions are making our lives more and more difficult – more and more miserable – irrespective of whether we live in the west or the east.
What have these ‘neo-fascists’ achieved for us on 22nd March? They have suddenly reinforced, suddenly multiplied and in a massive fashion, the existing historical faultiness, fears, prejudices and paranoia against ‘normal muslims’ from all over the world. They have provided justification for European governments, right wing political forces and all kinds of neo-Nazis to turn Muslim communities into ‘surveillance ghettos’. They have made it enormously difficult – as if it was easy – for Muslims of the real world to travel, to study, to do business, to integrate and to be part of the wider world shaping around all of us. They have closed the doors of Europe on the hapless migrants from Syria. And worst of all: they have multiplied the pressures upon our governments, our politicians, our media and our civil society to accept ever more doses of non-sensical, nauseating dictations from the western governments and institutions.
You might be wondering: has he forgotten about an unncecessary brutal war in Afghanistan, those ‘daisy cutters’ raining from the skies, destruction of Iraq imposed in the name of WMD’s, pillage of Libya for oil but in the name of democracy; suppression of Egyptian democracy in the name of liberalism and above all ravaging of Syria, creation of ISIS and other rogue groups to rid region of Israel’s last surviving credible threat: Bashar al Asad..?
No, I have not. These wars have created zone of chaos and instability. Doctors and Engineers from India and Pakistan, from Egypt and Philippines used to seek highly paid jobs in Libya and Iraq. Now educated professionals from these once prosperous middle income societies are struggling for their lives in camps across Turkey and Jordan. Once proud men and women, along with their children, are begging for entry at the ports of Europe. Yes! these wars have exported and injected hatred all over the Muslim world. But the likes of Salah Abdesalam are not migrants, or children of these recent refugees. Those poor souls – countless Aylan Kurdi’s – are struggling to enter Europe. Salah Abdesalam and the fascists like him are not products of these wars; these are offsprings of a different crisis: Crisis of Identity.
First generation migrants into UK and Europe arrived for economic reasons. They were treated ‘second class’ – if lucky. But they were grateful for finding means of livelihood, of earning in Pound, in Frank and mighty German Mark. They derived empowerment by sending money back to their relatives in ancestral villages and towns. Their sense of importance lay in their ability to raise their families, educate their children, buy modern gadgets – Sony TV, Panasonic VCR, Rodo Watches – and driving black or silver Mercedes Benz. But their identity, their world and their place in it was still being defined by their points of origin. What I describe is the story of ‘economic migrants’ from South Asia. But it fits more or less for migrants from middle east and Turkey and other parts of Muslim world.
For first generation migrants, docile subservient loyal Mohammedans, SP and DC Sahab Bahadur remained their anchors and recipients of their expensive gifts. But no more. The generation of Salah Abdesalam and all others of his kind – from London to Brussels – piss on the images of Raj or Europe’s past. They are confused, rudderless children of Huxley’s ‘brave new world’. They seek identity – and above all equality – from within the political conventions of modern Europe. A Europe that lectures the world and wants to believe in ‘Liberte, egalite and fraternite’, but fails to practice it. Unable to fit in Europe’s neat racial definitions – English, German, Flemish, Swedish and so on – and rejecting the ‘second class economic migrant status’ of father’s generation, they turn first to their ‘roots’ and finding these ‘pathetic’ they turn to Islam for empowerment.
But their Islam is not the Islam of their fathers; their’s is an imaginative Islam, a classic Khilafah – pure and prescient that allows them to connect with a history that is mostly fantastic or overly exaggerated to say it mildly. But this imaginative Islam – a rejection of father’s faith and conventions – is laced with the concepts of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. These ‘fascistic-Islamists’ are a classic physical manifestation of Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined community’. A community in search of meaning, in search for a cause. Yes! Wars from Afghanistan to Syria provide them with a cause. But lets be clear: they are not products of these wars. They are products of a Europe that – unlike the egalitarian United States – fails to absorb them.
These ‘European fascist Islamists’ may venture into the father’s homeland – like the murderer Omar Sheikh – but they come here in search of ‘something’ an identity. They may even feel comfortable here, the way Omar Sheikh did initially, but they don’t belong here. Generation of Salah Abdesalam are a European monster. ISIS – briefly put – is an unintended ‘frankenstein creature’ a failure of imagination of all those intelligence agencies who helped create it to overthrow Bashar al Asad. These two monsters have joined together. Surveillance state -as being advocated even more forcefully after Brussels bombings – is only a symptomatic treatment. World needs to get together to reflect, to discuss and find solution. Blaming Muslims and Islam is only a game of semantics. It won’t help. Hillary Clinton was every inch presidential when she pointed this out in her response to Brussels bombings. If I had a vote in the US elections, I would give it to her. But as subject of her empire it hardly matters.
Moeed Pirzada. Director@media-policy.com & Twitter: MoeedNj