Zehaf-Bibeau was driven by "political and ideological motives" in the murder of Cpl. Cirillo. Even before the day was out, our Prime Minister came out and labelled him a terrorist, without truly knowing who he was and why he did what he did. Knowing that Bourque intentionally targeted five Mounties, murdering three in cold blood in June, how come he wasn't (and still hasn't been) vilified as a terrorist?
Muslims are justifiably worried that we'll be implicated in the crimes of these individuals. But Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was still a human being looking for support from both his Muslim and non-Muslim communities. And although we'll never know the truth, it seems he eventually found his support on the Internet, which preys on the marginalized in our society. People want moderate Muslims to speak out and decry radicalization. And they do, but tweets and press releases are not always the answer because they don't solve a very real societal problem. There are unwell people out there who need our help. And they are increasingly showing up in our mosques.
When we, as atheists, say that Islam is the problem with the Middle East, we aren't saying that Muslims as people are the issue, we really are saying that the root of the crisis is the system of ancient, outmoded beliefs. Belief in Allah is not merely an identity marker, it is a belief that is acted upon, and criticizing this belief doesn't make one a racist.
Ali A. Rizvi recently wrote an open letter to "moderate Muslims." I'm not sure if Rizvi's letter was directed toward me, as I don't measure my faith in chicken wing flavours, but I'm going to respond anyway. Rizvi's good will doesn't last long as he immediately begins to lecture Muslims about our "increasingly waning credibility" in the West.
There are thoughtful and effective ways to look at all the facets of violence against women and it can certainly be done without promoting bigotry. For example, in March, the Ottawa Police, the Ottawa Rape Crisis, and Algonquin College partnered to put on a full day event on violence in the name of honour.
When I leaned over and asked a woman in a movie theatre to please put her cellphone away, she started yelling at me. She AND her husband called me an F'ing TERRORIST repeatedly. Does the colour of my skin or the fact that I wear a piece of cloth on my head make it alright to lambaste me in public in front of my child and her friends?
If the goal is mid-east hegemony, for example, manufactured hatred for Muslims (Islamophobia) becomes a necessary first step. The 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon created a huge shock on the mental landscapes of the U.S and the world. This shock created a collective numbness, and a window first for Islamophobia and then for military action.
In his April 11 show, "The Arab Underground," conservative political activist Ezra Levant interviewed a former Israeli army officer to highlight the imparting of homophobia in the government funded Edmonton Islamic Academy. Conservative Muslim parents need to be concerned whether their children are being taught values of tolerance or exclusion.
The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs indicated that of the 158 Palestinians killed in the November Israeli assault on Gaza, 103 were civilians. Israel's deputy defence minister indicated that Palestinians would bring upon themselves a bigger "shoah" -- holocaust. Unitarian Chaplain Reverend Audrey Brooks questioned how Israel could inflict the horror of the Holocaust on the Palestinians. Time and again, Jews and Muslims, notwithstanding the narrative of bigots in their respective faiths, have reached out to each other.
Some conservative Muslim leaders, like their Christian counterparts, are disseminating a letter expressing the right of parents to withdraw their children from course content that conflicts with their understanding of faith. The letter expresses concerns about introducing children to sex-education and the realities of queer families.
I initially vacillated between addressing Westerners in this blog, to alleviate their fears that Muslims were all crazy, and addressing the destructive Muslims that were affirming by their actions the discourse of the very people they hate. Amid my vacillation I realized that either article would be written for me alone. Those enraged Muslims that believe the U.S. government approved the video are not online seeking out measured arguments. Nor are those who simply can't understand "Muslim irrationality." So to my fellow Muslims caught in the middle I would say that we can't spend all our energy, time and writing reacting, defending, and explaining.
Many queer activists rise above their circumstances and assert their voice for justice that is not limited to LGBT issues. Belonging to a vulnerable minority, they understand prejudice and can empathize with "others." Queer Muslim activists, despite facing immense prejudice, continue their work quietly and with dignity. Their work ends up helping the very Muslim communities that so strongly shun them. They truly know the meaning of spiritual chivalry, to practice good without expecting the same in return.
During Ramadan, a time for focus and introspection, Michelle Bachmann and her posse are testing me. Big time. She believes that members of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government -- and she's calling them out in public. In today's ballooning and increasingly influential social media landscape, sure sticks and stones can break bones, but a correctly phrased Google search can be even more devastating.