A conversation about Islam and the role of culture in shaping sexism and homophobia

Italian translation here.

I should have published this long ago, more or less as everything I publish. But I ended up doing other things. So here it is finally.
It’s a conversation I had on the 14th of June 2016 with a person following my Facebook page, in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting on the 12th of June 2016: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Orlando_nightclub_shooting
The conversation sprang from a Facebook post of mine about the topic, and you can see it together with the original post here:
https://www.facebook.com/Stardustalostalien/posts/1177226869037231

Actually I think I should thank the humans who have these written debates with me, because they save me the effort of writing about my opinions and current events pretending to have a conversation with the wall. It’s an extremely boring task, and I’m afraid it produces extremely boring texts. So I thank them, whether I agree with them, or I don’t agree with them but I still consider them to be very good persons, or I don’t agree with them and I don’t think they are that good but OK, or I just want to smash their heads open as a watermelon.

giphy

So here we go.

 

Facebook post:
I do not agree that Islamophobia is not a thing, it is, but for all the rest this is sad but true. It is pure blindness to pretend that in the brilliant and glorious West there are no problems at all. And to pretend that Islam, as it is interpreted and practiced today by – I’d dare say (and I wholeheartedly invite anyone to prove the contrary because I’d love to change my mind on that) – most Muslims, is not a threat to fundamental human rights is exactly the same type of blindness.
https://www.allthink.com/1337197

M.P.
It surprises me to see this from you. I’m sorry about the rant, but I feel I need to say a lot about this. I hope you will consider it and please read the link as well. You are wrong about Islam and it’s ideology. And it is wrong to blame this tragedy entirely on Islam, even if the shooter was a Muslim. Islamophobia is specifically used to make people ignore the major influences that lead to domestic terrorism and bigoted hate, while providing an easy foreign target and promoting it as the source of all evil.

This was a hate crime and likely not related to religion at all, according to the shooter’s own father.

“According to NBC News, the father of the gunman, Mir Seddique, spoke out about his son’s potential motivations for the crime. While we don’t know exactly what the attacker’s motives were, the father said, “This had nothing to do with religion,” but that, according to NBC News, his son got very angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple of months ago. While there are definitely indications that it could have been, based off of the father’s statements, nothing is definitive.”

Islamophobia is praising Muhammad Ali as a great and Honourable man, while vilifying the ideology he was so passionate about, and those who share it.

Islamophobia is when people assume someone of Afghani descent is a Muslim terrorist simply because of racism, xenophobia and his racial heritage. It is when half the country assumes this and raises their voices saying, “see! They are all bad and evil.” Yet when white Christian men murder LGBT people, or people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, or women who just don’t seem to like them. The word terrorist is almost never even used, and it’s always an isolated incident or “mental illness” that’s to blame, never religion, ideology or toxic masculinity that’s a problem. Despite the fact that most people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victim of such crimes. Yet every time it’s someone of Arabic or middle-eastern descent, it’s always immediately assumed to be Islamic terrorism. Not all Arabic people are Muslim, and many Muslims are white.

When the people, often right wing Christians who constantly spread LGBT hate, call out Islam as if all Muslims, or even most of them are terrorists, it’s insulting. They spread hate and bile about LGBT people all the time. Then use us as an excuse to fuel their racism and xenophobia. This is on religious bigotry as a whole. Christian bigotry is more responsible for the deaths of LGBT people in the US than Muslims are. Yet these Christians shout for their “religious rights” to hate speech and discrimination.

The biggest difference currently between Christian and Islamic extremists, is Christians aren’t being incited into action by constant drone strikes and bombings from another country, with roughly 90% innocent casualties. They are also not in complete control of the US, yet they certainly don’t receive consequences for speaking or teaching hate, bigotry and aggression. The US government even defends the KKK over the Black Lives Matter movement, and looks back at the Black Panthers as terrorists as well.

I’m all for calling out religious bigotry, but nobody in their right mind would say all, or even most Christians want to murder gay and trans people. Yet Ted Cruz was running for president and nobody gave enough of a shit that he said he would assault trans women going to the bathroom to do anything about it. Trump is still potentially going to be president, yet he receives no actual consequences for spreading hatred and aggression throughout the entire country. The USA and it’s political establishment sells millions in weapons to Islamic countries, it incites and feeds off hate and extremism, and Muslims are the new Jews.

Yes, there are fucked up things in the Koran, but the same is true of the Bible, most people don’t follow either doctrine literally or completely. And it’s important to remember that the Koran was written at a time when they were being persecuted and killed.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/09/0925_TVkoran.html

You might think these percentages are exaggerated, but they aren’t, as also around 90% of ISIS’s victims throughout the world are Muslims. Yet white people, Christians and western society as a whole make it all about us. I don’t know about you, but if you read the link, it kinda seems reasonable that some might consider such extremism as self defence. Certainly that’s misguided, but it’s understandable in a warped and bigoted way.

Religious extremism has always been a problem, but it is NOT even close to most Muslims that take part in that. Saying otherwise IS Islamophobia, bigotry and xenophobia. Look up Mormons and the shit most of them do. If there is any religion (as in, not just extremists) we should be condemning, it’s them.

It is also part of ISIS’s goals to spread Islamophobia and xenophobia in the western world, and they will always claim responsibility for such acts of terrorism if they can. The more we demonise, hate and reject Muslims, the more they are forced to either join the extremists, or die by their hands.

Ultimately even if the shooter had ties to ISIS or their ideology. He was able to buy an assault rifle with no questions asked, yet with each shooting incident most of the political establishment refuses to tighten gun laws.

Stardust: a lost alien
I’m glad of your answer, and I’ll discuss with you about this, and I’ll also read the link, as soon as I reach home.

Stardust: a lost alien
Ok, here I am. So:

Stardust: a lost alien
You’re right about the fact that it’s never terrorism when it’s white people committing atrocities. I agree with you that this is wrong, because indeed it is, and considering the Black lives matter movement as terrorism is sign of the purest racism, as racism is that American prisons are full of black men charged with non-violent crimes and Brock may-Chernobyl-take-him-Turner gets six months reduced to three for raping a woman, because he is the good white boy.
But the point is, this doesn’t reduce the gravity of the massacre of Orlando (not that you have said it does), neither it cancels the fact that it is indeed still terrorism. About the fact that in this specific case religion has nothing to do with it, I cannot say anything precise but I doubt so, also as I saw this morning, on a newspaper (a leftist one) that the father of that piece of shit has said that it’s not up to believer to punish gays, god does that.

Stardust: a lost alien
Also, I agree with you on the fact that Islamophobia is being used to divert people’s attention from the problems affecting their countries and their governments: it’s all the bad Muslims’ fault, we are perfect. Many people sadly actually believe that: we have no problems with sexism! I mean, look at Muslims! LGBT lamenting discrimination, they’re crazy! I mean, look at Muslims!
But I do not believe that pointing out the problems which exists now, in this historical moment, inside Islam and the way a big part of Muslims interpret it it’s Islamophobia. Actually, even if it may seem contorted, I believe that recognizing (sic! It should have been “not recognizing”) that there are huge problems regarding human rights with Muslims (not all of them!) does a favour to Trump and company. They use this blindness of the left as a weapon: they are stupid, they don’t see problems with Islam, they are always going to excuse them, so we are right, we are the solution. Funny thing is: what extreme right wing parties would like to implement coincides on many points with what conservative Muslims would like to implement (or implement in their countries). The irony of history, uh?

Stardust: a lost alien
The reason because of which I believe that a good part of Muslims have problems with human rights, is evidence, or what I consider such. I cannot not see that for example in Arabic countries, where if I’m not mistaken the majority of people are Muslim, women are obliged to cover up, in Saudi Arabia women cannot drive, being homosexual is illegal, being gender-non-conforming is maybe not everywhere illegal but it’s certainly extremely dangerous. Rapes are often considered a crime perpetrated by the victim instead of by the aggressor. Sure, there’s a rape culture also in the West. But I would say less. In some cases, way less.
So, I wonder, why is this? How come that we have such huge problems of misogyny, homophobia and transphobia in Arabic countries, as well as I believe North African too? There must be a reason. Why must women wear hijabs there and not in European countries for example? Why in many European countries homosexuals can marry and there homosexuality is punishable with death? Is the government imposing itself on the whole population? Is the majority of population liberal? I don’t think this is reasonable. There’s definitely a part of the population which is liberal, and to those goes all my admiration, because often they risk so much, even their own life, to be free. But I honestly believe that if things are this way in this moment, is because the majority of the population goes along with it.

M.P.
His father raised him to think gay people are abominations or whatever, that may have been due to religious bigotry. But the shooter was an American citizen, born and raised. And there was no evidence whatsoever that he was a practising Muslim.

My point is, and the article I linked says it. Islam is inherently a peaceful religion with a peaceful message overall, just like Christianity. However the nature of rigid belief together with bigotry is dangerous and people will always find and twist words to justify their actions and hatred. The issue I took with you, is simply on the nature of Islam. Yes, things are a mess in the Middle East, and ISIS and other terrorist group are a real threat, but they are more of a threat to Muslims of the world than western society. And it was the US government that allowed ISIS to take so much control in that area. When people spread Islamophobia and reject Muslims, it only forces them to radicalise, or be at the mercy of the bigots in power.

We have to look at the whole picture, the number of Islamic extremists has only risen since 9/11 due to Islamophobia, and ignorance and hate on both sides. Due to the unnecessary and greedy war in Iraq and constant drone strikes killing millions in that area, as stated mostly innocents. The problem is every media outlet immediately assuming it was related to Islamic terrorists. Without any evidence of this. As if they don’t do enough to incite this kind of homophobic bigotry in America themselves. If you can find evidence he was a Muslim, specifically a practising one, we can talk about that, but I’ve only seen presumptions made so far.

Also there are reports he had been going to that nightclub and drinking there for about 3 years. And it’s pretty well understood that internalised homophobia and self hate can be powerful motivators along with bigotry.

It certainly was terrorism against the LGBT community, but he was not an Islamic terrorist and he was not mentally ill. Hate and aggression are not mental illnesses, they are taught, encouraged and internalised in our society just as in any other.

He had been under investigation for suspected ISIS ties apparently. Which means it definitely was a problem that he bought his weapons LEGALLY, yes that’s true and fucked up and needs to be addressed.

But the main issue and reason for this attack was hatred and disgust of the LGBT community. And nobody gets to hijack our suffering and deaths for their xenophobia and racism. Especially not after so much of Western society has ignored our struggles and encouraged or tolerated hate against us, this is especially true for LGBT people of colour. As it was Latinx night at Pulse when this happened.

M.P.
It’s worth pointing out there are also Christian countries that widely perform female genital mutilation. Most of the problems with human rights are tied to society, not directly to the religion or it’s beliefs. That said, just like with Christianity, those societal views do naturally seep into religion, and it’s hard for people to detach the misogyny or homophobia. Even though both books were written well over 1000 years ago. And if we want to acknowledge human rights violations in other countries, we MUST still look at ourselves first. It being worse somewhere else never justifies it being bad in America, or Australia, where I am.

While we must call out religious bigotry, it’s important to have the courage and wisdom to only do that when it actually is the problem. We know the right likely never will, so we need to resist their call to arms as well as their hate and xenophobia.

Stardust: a lost alien
I don’t believe that being born in a certain place is like a mark which you cannot shake off, it isn’t. But I cannot believe that people are not influenced by the place they are born. Some of them are not, but they are a minority, sadly. Humans absorb what is taught to them, most of them don’t question anything, they’ll just believe whatever they are used to. Also rape culture in western countries is an example of this. Also, I dare say, mafia in Italy. It’s something which is sticked to their habits, they don’t even notice it. Italian, not all of them are mafiosi, right? Sure. But. Black work? Yeah… you know, it happens. Evading taxes? Sure, it’s all fault of the government if things go bad! Corruption? Well, it’s just a little favour, for people I know, we are friends! Breaking the rules when this means a damage to someone else, like for example taking tons of free food at some exhibit when there’s written that please you should take just one little bag each? Well, but it wasn’t a big damage, this one!
This is mafia. As it is looking the other way, saying that’s not your business, saying that speaking out is dangerous and anyway nothing changes and then you know what you are a foolish idealist. This is mafia. And trust me, it’s almost everywhere. These attitudes are almost everywhere in Italy. Why shouldn’t I think it’s the same for Arabic countries?

M.P.
Sure, but these things are not tied to a religion, one which primarily spreads a message of peace and self defence. And there are feminists and other groups fighting those injustices all around the world. When we go in with war and bombs and try to “stabilise” an area by force, it devolves into chaos. If we want to do it properly, it should be done through the UN and organisations like Amnesty International. Even when we do get involved, we must listen and learn from the oppressed how best to promote justice while respecting their culture. Spreading hate does no good.

Stardust: a lost alien
And getting back to something I touched on above, I think the left has a problem with this. Because Muslims are now discriminated, because indeed they are, and because in many of the countries they come from there’s war and they get constantly bombed,they are almost elevated to the level of saints. But this is fallacious. I don’t believe most of them are terrorists, but their beliefs are extremely conservative not to say fascist, and they indeed provide a fertile soil to farm terrorism. Yes, bombing, war and colonisation by the West have contributed, maybe even greatly contributed, to lead them into the state they are now.
But still, your beliefs and your actions are your responsibility. Because then we could excuse also may-Chernobyl-take-him-Turner, because poor guy he was drunk and he just didn’t know better and he has been educated this way and in the end boys will be boys. No. Boys will not be boys, and Muslims will not be Muslims (not conservative Muslims I mean), and if they are then I’m going to look at them with scorn and rage, and not comprehension and pity. Where’s the critical sense of everyone? Their thought independence? Their empathy? Are they so dull and stupid? Ok, I believe it, great, then we have to brainwash them into respecting others because they’re a time bomb, and if we don’t manage to brainwash them then we have to put them in a place where they cannot mess up with the whole world.

Stardust: a lost alien
Obviously by the way I don’t support colonisation and bombing, neither I support trading weapons and having friendly relationship with dictatorial regimes.

Stardust: a lost alien
And finally, and then I think I’m done with this epic, yes in the Koran there’s written everything and the contrary of everything as in the Bible as in any religious book written over the centuries by I don’t know how many different humans, some of them crazed assholes. So yes, Islam can indeed be a religion of peace and indeed is for a part of Muslisms, but they have to want it.

M.P.
Having your people bombed and slaughtered in the millions does not equate to the privilege and entitlement of a rich white kid. I think you are assuming too much, if they are refugees to another country, they must learn. But you are assuming too much about what their beliefs may already be. Presumably if they hold such strong conservative beliefs, they are likely to just join ISIS or the like, instead of seeking refuge with their family.

I am simply saying we can’t take the easy approach and presume, or blame a whole religion, or most of the people who follow it, for the warped beliefs of a few. I do condemn any human rights violations and will not hesitate to do so no matter who the person responsible is. But I will not react to blind hate and violence with more of the same. And the privilege of so many in on the right, is not being able to see the chaotic effects of the war in Iraq and drone bombs in the middle east. We can learn from the core of Islam, and promote compassion for refugees, who are the real victims of ISIS and such terrorists, while focusing on protection and self defence.

M.P.
In any case, I’m glad to have this discussion with you. And that you are willing to engage in this. Even if you don’t change your mind, I know you care deeply about injustices just as I do and I thank you for all of that.

A.L.
Please don’t speak for Arabic countries.

A.L.
You’re ignorant and racist. Your understanding is zero to nil. The fact that someone took the time and energy to try to explain to you why your post is problematic (more like vile) yet you continue to spew your ignorant nonsense on the internet, is just an indication to your ignorance.

M.P.
Sorry if I’ve said anything wrong A., I am aware of my privilege in this and don’t mean to speak for anyone.

Stardust: a lost alien
Oh sorry, I saw none of your comments while I was writing. Give me a second and I’ll read them.

Stardust: a lost alien
About the thing that it’s more about the society in general than the religions, I agree/disagree with that. I mean, society and religion are often intertwined. Surely there are also Christian communities which practice female genital mutilation, but I have no intentions to make of this a war between Christianity and Islam. Both of them can be good and bad, Christianity had crusades and burnt “witches” for centuries. The fact with Christianity is that in most countries it has lost its grip on the population, and if still holds it it’s in a way milder way than it was in the past. Well, apart from Trump. And Poland. And other places. But what I mean it’s that it’s not as pervasive as Islam is in Arabic countries now.
Religion to me is more of a personal thing, a way to explore and nurture your spirituality, not a belief that you have to spread, to impose on others or that should influence the way you look at others.

Stardust: a lost alien
I think A. was speaking to me xD

M.P.
People had crusades, Christianity and Islam are belief and ideological structures. They are mostly peaceful, while still being a product of their times. The biggest problem with organised religion, is that it makes people more resistant to social change. But this isn’t inherent to religion and certainly doesn’t require it.

M.P.
Perhaps it was only you, but I can’t claim to be an authority.

Stardust: a lost alien
Also, I don’t support the right in any way. I’m not taken in their rhetoric, and I deem them extremely dangerous, especially now that there seem to be a new rise in fascist/neo-nazi ideologies. But I believe the left is doing them a favour by keeping on asserting that with Middle East and North Africa there’s no problem whatsoever, apart from wars. They shun away from considering the possible cultural problems, which instead I deem existing and dangerous as well.
In any case, I do prefer your way of viewing things than the right wing’s way. I had this type of discussion many times with a dear person, and still I consider that person to be excellent and surely way better than some fascist fucktard.

Stardust: a lost alien
About respecting their culture, I actually don’t agree. I don’t like cultural relativism, to be honest I just don’t like cultures in general when we go beyond fancy clothes, odd food, form of buildings, language, mythology and various gods, holy days and all this kind of nice stuff. When it’s about stepping over human rights, then I don’t care if it’s their culture or not.

M.P.
I’ve not known or heard anyone on the left dismiss human rights violations in those areas, certainly not absolutely. That’s usually how bigots view us if anything. It’s never good to view things in absolutes. That’s why intersectionality is so important.

M.P.
If culture does not violate the rights of others, it’s their business. Not ours. And even if it does, it’s naive and arrogant to assume we have to save them, as if there aren’t people there fighting and living it every day.

Stardust: a lost alien
And I’m not indifferent to problem of the refugees, and they should indeed be helped, but I think it’s necessary to be cautious. If some of them bring their “culture” as a justification for not respecting other human beings, for beign bigots, for limiting freedom, then measures must be taken. You said that I’m doing too many assumptions regarding what their beliefs could be. I hope you’re right, I do hope so, but again it’s impossible for me not to think that most of them are extremely conservative, by saying what are the laws in their countries, by looking at issues raising in their European communities. Once I read that in Belgium (don’t remember which city) in a quarter inhabited by a majority of Muslims, gay people cannot go around clearly displaying what they are. I don’t have proofs of this, it was just a newspaper’s article, but it is was also a very leftist newspaper (which proposes a balanced view on this topic, though).

Stardust: a lost alien
You’re definitely right on not assuming that we have to save them, also because this was the usual excuse for US to basically invade those countries. But honestly, I still believe it’s our business. I feel like it’s my business, and not only regarding those countries, also regarding the same US, other European countries, Russia, China, whatever.
I don’t feel I’m being arrogant if I say that China has a huge democratic problem, that it’s shit that the Internet is censored and if I speak about the existence of laogai, concentration camps.

M.P.
Sure, but we have to face the fact that we can’t do much about it. Anything we could do, is likely to make things worse. Certainly if we use force. Like I said, it would have to go through the UN or international human rights organisations.

Stardust: a lost alien
I’ll share two posts of two people of Arabic origin, which differently from me have the gift of being able to sum things in a nutshell. I know that there were quite a good amount of Jews who took the side of Hitler, and they refuse their “culture” so what they write might be biased, but I think it’s interesting (I quite like them both actually).

M.P.
No culture is free of these problems, and it’s most important to focus on the problems around us and in our own culture. Xenophobia is a form of manipulation from those in power to focus on foreign enemies instead of the ones around us. Just like racism and the like is used to divide the people so they can’t unite and stand against the political establishment and the 1%.

This is the last I will add to this, again, thanks for considering all I’ve said.

Stardust: a lost alien
And then I’ll have to leave this conversation for some time but you’ll welcome to keep writing if you want.

A.L.
I’m from Arabic origin…now Stfu plz

Stardust: a lost alien
A., I have nothing towards you for being of Arabic origin, neither I have anything towards anyone for being Muslim. If you are liberal and a supporter of human rights, then you have all my support.
M.P. I want to ask you if I can publish this conversation on my blog. No names, but I’d put a link to this post.
And now I think this is the last thing I’ll write on this thread too.

M.P.
I don’t mind. I’ll just add this.

Matthew_picture

 

 

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