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Updated: September 21, 2012 01:42 IST

The loneliness of a moderate Muslim

Raheel Dhattiwala
Comment (19)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
BURNING ANGER: A protest against the film near the American consulate in Chennai.
AP BURNING ANGER: A protest against the film near the American consulate in Chennai.

The violent protests over an anti-Islamic film so trashy that it should have been ignored are fodder for critics of Muslims around the world

I am a Muslim and I condemn the rampant and widespread violent protests over a badly made anti-Islamic film.

I believe one needs to have a very high bar when it comes to getting offended. If everything is offensive to you, then it is perceived that something is wrong with you. The Indian government proved it recently with its tantrum against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s mediocre caricatures. Now a section of radical Muslims is proving it over an insignificant film.

I saw “Innocence of Muslims” a couple of days ago on YouTube. It is a laughable attempt at insulting Muslims and sooner rather than later would have met its fate at the hands of a Ricky Gervais or a Jay Leno. It is therefore worrying when such trash goes viral simply because a rabid bunch of Muslims sulked and how.

Getting hurt at intelligent lampooning (to some extent), à la Rushdie, is pardonable as long as the hurt does not translate into killing people. But if trashy lampooning by a convicted fraudster cannot be ignored, who cares if we shout from rooftops that ours is a “religion of peace.” More dangerously, such behaviour is fodder for all the critics of Muslims around the world. For example, in Gujarat where I live and work, many continue to absurdly justify the anti-Muslim violence in 2002 as a “reaction” to what the Muslims did to Kashmiri pandits thousands of miles away! The mistake of reviving the memories of another place, another time need not be repeated, especially in this digital age where offence can be manufactured at the click of a button (I’ve just read about the French cartoons today). It doesn’t take much intelligence to understand that you cannot punish an entire community or country for the acts of a few. But perhaps it does take a cogent leadership to condemn such universalisation of punishment. This the Muslims don’t have.

Above all, my biggest concern is that this has just pushed the moderate Muslim inside me deeper into solitary confinement.

(Raheel Dhattiwala is a doctoral candidate at Nuffield College, University of Oxford.)

More In: Comment | Opinion

so what do we do with M.F.Hussains naked paintings of Hindu
godessess. Why do Muslims celebrate him?

from:  Manny
Posted on: Sep 23, 2012 at 06:05 IST

Good to read brother Raheel. You should know even moderate Muslims are pressure to behave like street hooliguns because of peer pressure. When one hooligun declares his love for prophet (saw) and throws a stone, the next fellow in the line wants to show he loves prophet (saw) more and throws two stones! This sad reality of what is hapening everywhere to Muslims. Everybody wanst to shows their faith publicly and not practice in private. Hypokrisy in public display of faith makes peopel to behave so badly by peer pressure. What about know how to practice forgiving like prophet (saw)? See qu'ran 64:14, 42:40, 3:134,24:22. Peopel should use freedom to ignore this film, not call to stop freedom of expression. Alla hafiz.

from:  Musli Ma
Posted on: Sep 23, 2012 at 01:38 IST

Yeah, There would have been no need for so much public expression had the rulers of the muslim countries did what was in their disposition to do.
That is - Demand America to initiate judicial actions for racisim against the perpetrators, failing which their ambassadors should be expelled and embargo imposed on crude oil, water ways, etc.

from:  Mohamed
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 22:35 IST

to react at times is necessary, if you don't react they won't even let
you to respond...!!!

from:  Khalid
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 21:01 IST

Very often it is also the moderate ones, in all religious denominations, who
incubate the radicals. When a young deviant who is lost and searches for an
identity or respect in his community takes the easy route to gain respectability ,
this often is reading religious texts and following them literally. Such an exhibition
makes the elders feel proud of him because they themselves have never seriously
questioned or doubted their scriptures. They simply assume that religions speak
the word of god! These are people who accept authority and have been
programmed to be subservient. Science and teaching people to question and
doubt are the best tools to guaranty a healthy society.

from:  P.N.Shreeniwas
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 19:11 IST

One word for your words...

Respect

from:  Subhayan Roy
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 16:07 IST

those who made anti islamic film are not belonged to any religion these
are generation of firon and America who always talks about humanity why
still keep silent because they also include,and very consiously salute
to all muslim countries politicans that hasn't taken any action the best
way to protesting against this film all muslims reprensentator are
sitting in America they can protest ther assemblies also in united
nation but useless peoples who always worshiping Americans.

from:  soban
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 15:38 IST

Dear Raheel,
I agree with you that such reactions by muslims become fodder for all the critics of Muslims around the world. Muslims are falling into this trap unfortunatly. However, I wonder if freedom of expression should be absolute or not. I see these cartoons and films as a form of racism.Ironically films such as these get publicity by muslims who condemn these films.

from:  Asiya
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 13:47 IST

For every Mr Dhattiwala there seems to be a Mr Tafik Shaikh .... and the Tafik Shaikhs are definitely going to be taunted, because as one commentor pointed out the schoolboy who most easily takes offence is the one who is most often taunted ... Mr Shaikh is calling Mr Dhattiwala "insecure" but common knowledge is that the people taking offence easily are the most insecure ones.

from:  Dhruv
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012 at 12:14 IST

what an article...very true brother keep it up

from:  anupam
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 11:04 IST

It is true. Only pure muslims that is who are following the real idealogies of Islam will feel like this. Not only muslims real human beings who love mankind will have the same feeling as the professor has. But this is rarest of rare.

from:  Thiruveedhi Narayanan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 11:04 IST

Though the violent protests are condemnable and could have been avoided but what DOES NOT surprise is the selective criticism by so called moderate msulims, who are just the manifestation of inbuilt insecurity and cherished desire to be seen at par with western intellectuals.
I agree with author-"It doesn’t take much intelligence to understand that you cannot punish an entire community or country for the acts of a few. But are you willing to apply same yardstick for the atrocities committed agaisnt the entire nations (Iraq & Afghanistan) for alleged crimes of few? I guess No because that may not serve your interest and an intellectual would certainly not like to be seen siding with fundamentalist.
Moderates like you are just a bunch of insecure hypocrites. No wonder, community has far decided to neglect your rant.

from:  Tofik Shaikh
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 10:28 IST

The best way to deal with the situation is to ignore them, unfortunately
the muslim world is hell bent on destroying its own property and lives
over such blatant provocation. i am reminded of my own schooltime when a
boy that easily took offend was deliberately taunted.

from:  Pawan Kumar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 09:11 IST

One thing that is missing in most analysis is the domestic political reasons for realease of this film just before elections. It would not be a strecth to say that Islamphobia and hate speech against Muslims sells in American politics. In 2008, a similar rabid anti-Muslim muslim film was released in 20 odd states and advertised in newspapers and TV channels. The subtext being Obama is a "Muslim".
While we should condemn violent protests that result in loss of life by Muslims, we should also be concerned by the mainstreaming of hate against Muslims because this is only a start. Already we see an uptick of attacks on Sikhs and "brown coloured" people which includes Indian Hindus even in the US. A berzevik like incident is not far away, and infact in the recent Sikh shooting, it seems like it has already happened.

from:  Anita
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 07:28 IST

How come moderate, cultured, educated muslims settled in the West always accept the western view and speak only of the freedom of speech when insults follow injury of extreme prejudice? Lowly commments by a people who have traditionally been considered boors in jokes on peoples perception of travelers - the Japs with their cameras and gadgets, the French knowing no language but his own etc. That becomes acceptable but conscientious objectors to government policy, inside or outside its borders are considered a threat?
This one way policy of a system is considered the pinnacle of democrazy?
When will respect for the sensitivity of others, respect for another turn policy? Never, I think. The government perception of other people, other nations, remains the same as that of its people. The rest be but monkeys! Great humanitarians that! Do we see only one sided views expressed here?

from:  andrew mohan charles
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 06:45 IST

Dear Mr. Dhattiwala.
As I sit here, on the west coast of the USA, I cannot help but notice the apparent dearth of moderate voices such as yours. I applaud your op-ed piece, and I hope that you continue to speak out for reason, and for rational discourse. I am not a follower of Islam, but that does not mean I am hostile to that faith. It puzzles me that three major religions worship the same deity, but have been so ready to spill each others' blood over their respective interpretations of God's/Yawhe's/Allah's (saws) intentions, instructions, etc. You are not a lonely voice in the wilderness. People are listening!

from:  William A Scott
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 05:45 IST

The author contradicts himself and loses credibility. First he says you can't condemn an entire religion because of the actions of the few, thereby implying that the rampage by savage muslims in reaction to the film are "actions of a few". Then he implies that he is one of the few moderate muslims who feel the "loneliness of a moderate muslim" and is in self imposed isolation. If the moderate muslims are the majority like he implies in the first statement, then why is he lonely? Why aren't the moderate muslims who he claims are the majority restraining the rabid minority and talking sense into them? I know the answer, the author doesn't. The answer is that the moderate muslims are actually being terrorised by their own rabid, fanatical brethern, and do not have the courage to stand up to them. By their silence the moderate muslims become invisible and are actually abetting the savagery of muslim extremism.

from:  K. Raghunathan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 05:07 IST

good article. it would do well for the moderate Muslims to openly condemn such acts where protests by a few hooligans in the name of religion turns violent. one wonders as to why these violent people think that they are representing a religion, and why none of the religious heads are raising a voice against such knee-jerk reactions.

from:  Nitya
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 03:22 IST

I agree with almost everything that Mr. Dhattiwala opined - except for the perceived outrage over the cause for the post-Godhra anti-muslim riots. The rationalization for the carnage was not due to the injustice meted out to Kashmiri Pundits, "thousands of miles away, in a different time ...", but due to the then current occurence of the events at Godhra station (LET ME MAKE IT CLEAR THAT TWO WRONGS NEVER MAKE ONE RIGHT, AND THIS RATIONALIZATION DOES/NT BY ITSELF, JUSTIFY THE ANTI-MUSLIM RIOTS THAT FOLLOWED, IN ANY WAY).

I abhor violence violence from all quarters, by all religious fanatics - but felt it necessary to de-link the Kashmiri Pundit connection and felt it had more to do with the Godhra train burnings.

from:  Prasad Nallamothu
Posted on: Sep 21, 2012 at 03:19 IST
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