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Jewish victims, Muslim shame

with 2 comments

An amended version of this appeared in The Sunday Times (£) on January 18, 2015

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Throughout the week, we have heard commentators condemning the Paris attacks which left 17 innocent people dead, while simultaneously chastising Charlie Hebdo journalists for “provoking” the wrath of Muslims.

It was almost like telling a woman who was raped that she should not have “provoked” her attacker by wearing a miniskirt.

Even Hamas – that well-known advocate of human rights and free speech – denounced the onslaught on the satirical magazine. Yet notable by its absence was any comment on the Jewish people who died in the supermarket.

I put this question to all those who, in a round about way, are trying to explain away the actions of terrorists they claim had “genuine grievances”: what was the justification for the murder of the innocent Jews? They were murdered simply for existing.

This debate is being framed around free speech but this is about the bigger picture. For Al Qaeda it was about making a statement and carrying out strategic attacks against those who mock them – Charlie Hebdo – and those who are perceived enemies – the Jews.

What the terrorists did last week was to ensure that Muslims around the world would get outraged over the cartoons and push the “Us vs Them” narrative. They want to draw the West into a war with them, but they received no such response. Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish a cartoon of Muhammad again after the attacks was incredibly brave and I admire them for it.

It was no surprise to read that some Muslims in France hold the Jews responsible for what happened at the magazine. While the atrocities in Paris were unfolding I was asked by a fellow Muslim in Manchester: “Are the Jews behind the cartoons?” Antisemitism is a deep-rooted problem within our communities.

Members of my parents’ generation have said they didn’t see any extremism during their youth. But that is because they didn’t live in a globalised world as my generation does.

Disillusioned with their parents’ culture and not feeling as though they belong in Britain, they are drawn more towards religion, the global Muslim ummah that gives them a sense of identity and purpose.

Last week I was asked by a suspicious Muslim gentleman why I was defending Jews. I have previously been labelled a coconut, sell-out and even “Jew lover” for saying such things. There is a conspiracy theory culture mixed with a perceived sense of grievance among some Muslims. Their belief is that Jews are protected and immune from criticism while Muslims are unfairly targeted.

Many people criticising the cartoons have been conflating racism with criticism of religion. The former is abhorrent and we have laws against this. The latter is perfectly legitimate.

Deborah Maccoby, executive of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, wrote a letter to the Guardian last Tuesday, saying that Jewish organisations should denounce the actions of Israel in order to reduce anti-Semitism and deter jihadists. I somehow doubt that chanting “free Palestine” and wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh would have melted the bullets fired by the terrorists.

Lest we forget, anti-Semitism was rampant in Europe before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Even the “moderate Muslims” often come out with reactionary views — that they are being victimised, and that extremism is a result of the West’s foreign policy and a legacy of colonialism.

As the counter terrorism analyst Anas Abbas wrote in Left Foot Forward, the political blog, if these attacks were merely the result of grievances against colonialism, then all Indians living in the UK would be avenging the suffering of their ancestors.

We should remember that European enlightenment was a product of centuries of challenges to religious authority, after which secularism was able to flourish. That is one of the reasons why reactionaries abandon the Muslim world: silenced in their own countries, they seek refuge in the liberal West, only to undermine its principles from within.

What we need is for people to continue to blaspheme, else we will be complicit in the Islamists gaining strength and destroying us all. They are organised, determined and, armed with deadly weapons and the belief that they have a divine power on their side, they will prevail.

Dissenting voices I have come across with Muslim communities  have expressed fear for the future. If we do not defend our rights and freedoms then, to paraphrase Pastor Niemöller, one day there will be no one left to speak for us.

Written by Iram Ramzan

January 19, 2015 at 6:40 pm

2 Responses

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  1. European countries are betraying their peaceable, integrated & really long standing Jewish communities, to appease the rampant anti-semitism from it’s new muslim communities.
    People pretend not to see it, it’s an uncomfortable truth for them.

    “Save Palestine, Kill the Jews” – how does abusing English, French, Italian, Lithuanian, Swedish Citizens of Jewish heritage help Palestine? Every time things flare up over there, thousands of miles away from the Old Mrs Green in England, Dr & Mr Driefuss in Switzerland or the Cohen family in Italy, those very citizens are subject to hate speech graffitied on their doors and parks and they fear to walk down the streets or open their shops in the towns their families have lived in for generations. You know what that does? It makes them want to make Aaliyah because there’s safety in numbers.

    In the bleak midwinter

    January 20, 2015 at 12:52 am

  2. Have you seen Adam Withnall’s story in the Independant about innocent English primary school children in a Jewish school in a North London being backed into the situation where they have to do muslim terrorist attack drills where the children are told to ‘play sleeping lions’ under their desks.
    I’m livid that English children are forced to live like we’re back in the Blitz.
    Why should the children of say Nigella Lawson, Claudia Winkleman or David Baddiel be made to spend their time learning how to preserve their young lives in the instance where they’re under attack by the supremacist fascists like benefits leeching Abu Hamza & his near & dear or fat fraud Mo Ansar LLB or anyone who’s ever spent 5 minutes in Anjem Chaudary’s tawdry company or been to Finsbury Park mosque.
    Decent people living in fear because of Muslim supremacists with zero respect for the people or ways of life of this country. I was never given the option to sign on for this. I never voted for this.

    Forced to shelter supremacists

    January 20, 2015 at 7:36 pm

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