Muslims Must Stop Apologising
- I was recently asked to give a talk about
“being an American Muslim in the United States”.
Although wary of the uses and abuses of the
term, I obliged.
Islam is a
religion propelled by values, not race nor,
theoretically, by blind tribal allegiances, I
“American Muslim” identity, which has been under
constant investigation in US media, politics and
society, is completely different from what
American Muslims associate themselves with.
media’s American Muslim is a suspect, a fifth
column, potentially dangerous and more
susceptible to violence than every other
collective identity in the US.
contrasts sharply with real Islam, facts hardly
matter in the age of American nationalism
predicated on cultural and religious
identification and “alternative facts”.
within this brutal, baseless logic, some
American Muslims no longer define themselves
according to their political priorities, nor do
they mobilise themselves alongside their natural
allies — those who come from historically
they have taken to apologising for their
“Muslim-ness”, rather than demand an apology,
justice and equality.
Muslims find themselves, as a collective, being
forced to demonstrate their humanity, defend
their religion and distance themselves from
every act of violence, even if only allegedly
committed by a Muslim anywhere in the world.
before the Trump administration’s Muslim ban —
banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority
countries from entering the US for 90 days —
Muslims in the US were always, to varied
degrees, embattled, collectively demonised,
racially profiled by government agencies and
targeted in numerous hate crimes by fellow
reality, hatred of Muslims goes back before
September 11 and the US war on Iraq in 1990-91 —
a hatred based solely on media fear-mongering
and Hollywood stereotyping.
also an odd “discovery” by various liberal
groups that American Muslims are mistreated in
their own country.
the cause of the “defenceless Muslim” is used as
a political tool, with Democrats and others
attempting to undermine the actions of their
administrations of Democratic presidents Barack
Obama and Bill Clinton, both had horrific
legacies of violence and discrimination against
a landmark study released in March 2015, the
Washington-based group Physicians for Social
Responsibility showed that the US’ self-styled
“war on terror” killed anywhere between 1.3
million to 2 million Muslims in the first 10
years since the September 11 attacks.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nafeez
Ahmed concluded that at least 4 million Muslims
have been killed by the US since 1990.
excludes killings that took place in the last
two years, or the countless civilians who
perished during the US-sanctions on Iraq,
starting in 1991, which were enforced throughout
the Clinton administrations.
this is meant to be ignored and seen merely as
the issue of an obnoxious president, and that
the pinnacle of American violence against
Muslims can be reduced to a 90-day travel ban on
Subscribing to this mischaracterisation reflects
both ignorance and complete disregard for the
millions of innocent lives that have been lost
in order for the US to preserve its vastly
Democratic Party National Convention (DNC) last
July, former president Bill Clinton took the
stage to articulate a retort to the Republican
Party convention’s hate-fest of Muslims, Blacks,
Latinos and everyone else who did not subscribe
to its skewed view of the world.
But Clinton’s words were a mere liberal spin on
the same chauvinistic, racist and exclusionist
culture that often drives the political
discourse of the right.
a Muslim and you love America and freedom and
you hate terror, stay here and help us win and
make a future together, we want you,” Clinton
said before a large audience that roared in
Muslims, feeling that their inclusion,
citizenship and humanity are conditioned by a
set of condescending rules articulated by a
white, Christian elite is utterly dehumanising.
Clinton wished to forget was that an
estimated third of the slaves who built his
country were, in fact, Muslims — shackled and
dragged against their will to assemble the
United States, field by field and brick by
It is the
slaves that mainly brought Islam to America, and
it is Islam that armed them with the virtue of
patience and strength of character in order to
survive one of the most ghastly genocides in
for this reason, the identity of the American
Muslim is, at its heart, a political one,
concerned with human rights, justice and
equality, with black Muslims playing a
tremendous role in confronting, challenging and
clashing with the ruling white elitist order
that controlled the US from the beginning.
It is the
Martin-Luther King Jr.-Malcolm X-type movements
— backed by millions of black people throughout
the country — that helped define the modern
character of the black American.
the Civil Rights Movement, exacting basic human
rights at a heavy price and against terrible
important that American Muslim youth understand
this well, and that their fight for equality and
human rights in their country be not a
manifestation of some Democratic Party’s
aspiring to be the “good Muslim”, Uncle Tom,
“not-all-Muslims-are-terrorists” type can only
hope for a second-class status.
who aspire for true equality and justice ought
to remember the words of American revolutionary
Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in
history, has ever gotten their freedom by
appealing to the moral sense of people who were
oppressors constantly try to redefine the nature
of the struggle of those they oppress.
Clinton, the issue is solely Islamic terrorism,
never the terror inflicted upon Muslim nations
by his and other administrations through a
series of unjust wars and sanctions that killed
coloniser, oppressor, invader is always blind to
his crimes. He sees only the violent reaction —
however minuscule — of the people whom he
to the New America Foundation, alleged jihadists
killed 94 people in the US from 2005-2015,
during which time the US killed nearly 2 million
Muslims in their own countries.
anti-Muslim and anti-Islam discourse (for which
both liberals and conservatives are equally
responsible) has made terrorism the leading fear
among Americans, according to a major national
survey in 2016.
book “Wretched of the Earth”, one of the
20th century most powerful revolutionary voices,
Frantz Fanon, wrote: “Each generation must
discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in
generation of American Muslims, this is their
moment — to discover and fulfil their mission,
to define and assert who they are as the
descendants of slaves, immigrants and refugees —
the three main building blocks of America.
has been writing about the Middle East for over
20 years. He is an internationally syndicated
columnist, a media consultant, author of several
books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com.
His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second
Palestinian Intifada” and “My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. He
contributed this article to The Jordan Times.