This is a guest post by Mehrdad Amanpour
Another day, another outrage carried out by evil & deranged individuals and the usual arguments ensue.
“It had everything/nothing to do with Islam”.
“Muslims should/should not apologise”.
The murders in Paris certainly have nothing to do with the Islam I recognise, nor the Islam followed by the overwhelming majority of Muslims. But clearly they were motivated by a brutal and amoral interpretation of Islam that was believed by the perpetrators. To say otherwise is delusional.
But let’s be in no doubt that the number of Muslims who support killing cartoonists is tiny. That said, the proportion of British Muslims who believe depicting the Prophet ought to be a crime is alarmingly high:
Asked about attitudes towards free speech, there was little support for freedom of speech if it would offend religious sensibilities. 78% of Muslims thought that the publishers of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed should be prosecuted, 68% thought those who insulted Islam should be prosecuted and 62% of people disagree that freedom of speech should be allowed even if it insults and offends religious groups.
The proportion that support violence also gives cause for concern:
“9% of respondents said it was acceptable for religious or political groups to use violence”
On top of this, we have to remember the Satanic Verses controversy when many British Muslims burned books and some even supported Khomeini’s fatwa calling for the extrajudicial murder of a British author.
Considering any of these points, surely it’s not unreasonable for there to be a debate on how some of the attitudes present within Muslim communities might possibly influence a few ignorant and impressionable people to go on and carry out atrocious acts of violence?
Moving onto those who call on Muslims to apologies – How offensive!
How racist and essentialist to expect an individual to apologise for something they have nothing to do with other than belonging to the same religion, race or ethnicity as the perpetrator(s) of a wicked act?
However, I can’t help but laugh to myself at the usual double-standards of some on the left who are most vocally offended by misplaced calls for ‘Muslim apologies’.
Who couldn’t have been sickened by Ken Livingstone’s weeping, nauseating apology for slavery, two centuries ago, and the ‘forgiving’ embrace from the Rev Jesse Jackson.
How do we know Jackson’s ancestors weren’t slavers and Livingstone’s weren’t abolitionists? To assume based on skin-colour is prejudice and surely prejudice is at the root of bigotry and racism?
No one should be expected to apologise in this way – not Muslims for terrorism, not Germans for the Holocaust and not ‘white’ people for slavery.
So no, I won’t apologise for the Paris atrocities. I have nothing to do with them.
But I will condemn them. Without hesitation.
Just as I’ll condemn slavery and the Holocaust, despite being neither ‘white’ nor German.
Whilst apologising insinuates blame, condemnation demonstrates integrity and a desire to show solidarity with the victims. It’s just the right thing to do.
I can’t understand why some on the left would find that offensive and suspect that some people are deliberately and disingenuously conflating ‘apologise’ and ‘condemn.
I don’t think any thinking person expects Muslims to apologise for the Paris murders. But there’s nothing unreasonable to expect Muslims to condemn them – to no more nor less an extent than most non-Muslims do.
To refuse to do so out of misplaced victimhood or sanctimonious outrage is not what Muslims in Europe need right now. At best, it could lead some to believe Muslims don’t wish to react to an event in the way most non-Muslims are happy to do so.
At worst, it allows anti-Muslim essentialists and ‘counter-jihad’ verse-quoters to point and say, “Look! See! Told you!”
In my opinion and experience, Muslim cultures are less comfortable about self-reflection than Western ones and this is stunting our progress.
Whilst most young Germans and ‘white’ Americans would have no qualms about condemning the Holocaust or slavery, the depressing truth is Turkey refuses to even admit there was an Armenian genocide and I’ve never encountered a prominent Arab leader who has expressed any regret for the trans-Saharan slave trade.
Don’t ask me to apologise for crimes committed by unconnected strangers. And don’t demand I condemn them. But be assured, I will readily condemn evil, without hesitation, regardless of the race, ethnicity or religion of the perpetrator.