It is becoming quite comprehensible and easy to understand now. If you insult women, you are a misogynist. If you insult black people, you are a racist.
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This week Emanuel Macron, the president of France, has shown complete ignorance about history, intercultural spectrums and values of tolerance.
As a head of state of a Western democracy, he encouraged the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, while paying tribute to Samuel Paty, the teacher who was beheaded by an 18-year-old terrorist, Abdullakh Anzorov. Macron words and tone were deeply disrespectful.
Islamophobia is at its peak today more than any time before. In the past this phenomenon was fanned by irresponsible individuals and entities, but today, you see heads of state encouraging it. The people whom we expect to keep their countries united, advocate for inclusiveness and tolerance, fight extremism, and spread true values of democracy are sadly spearheading the mission of disseminating Islamophobia.
That is why it was nothing but anger in the Arab and Muslim World this week with trending hashtags on social media condemning Macron, boycott calls, and reminding people of the “French paradox and contradictive narratives”. France, let us not forget, played a pivotal role in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 where an estimated 800,000 people were killed, as well as the homicide of up to one million Algerians between 1954 to 1962 in the Algerian War.
Not only that. France was part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 with the UK, which had divided and drew borders between countries of the region that is known as the “Middle East” today. Much of the conflicts and hurdles of this region today go back to this historical event that sought influence and leverage in the region. The same old mentality of orientalism is present today: a false belief that we are better than Easterners, we are entitled to control and do whatever we think is right, and we are racially and naturally better human beings.
The only difference with orientalism today is that it is better polished, wearing a fancy tie, and addressing audiences with buzzwords. Democracy in many countries is the evident façade for orientalist actions. It is a decent cover and propagates propaganda.
Anzoroz is as much of a terrorist as New Zealand Christchurch’s Brenton Tarrant, Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik, or any white supremacist terrorist. The enemy is terrorism, not Muslims. If the terrorist is a Muslim, then the war is against a terrorist, not against Muslims. It is not within the religion to kill, this is merely the doctrine of radicalism and extremism, and these two terms are not, in any way, affiliated with Islam, nor to any religion.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) this week said that 67 per cent of domestic terror attacks and plots (so far this year) in the US have been conducted by white supremacists and rightwing extremists. What if these terror attacks took place in France, would Macron, who is often seen as a right-leaning president, have labelled the attackers as “terrorists”?
This is the main reason why Islamophobia has increased: Some leaders decide what version is terrorism and what version can be dubbed as “mental or psychological disorder,” or whether the terrorist was only a “killer” or “attacker,” or if they were a “terrorist, killer and attacker,” all combined. You cannot partition terrorism the way it serves your agenda.
French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala is the perfect embodiment of the “French paradox” and its utter contradiction. In March 2015, a French court handed him a two-month suspended prison sentence and fined him for “antisemitic remarks” after the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
In November 2015, the European court of human rights in Strasbourg ruled against Dieudonné in a separate case, saying that “racist and antisemitic performances” are not within the context of freedom of speech. He was also fined 10,000 euros by a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust denier on stage. “Racist insults,” was the court’s reason. Was Dieudonné right with his actions? Of course not.
What is the difference between Macron’s remarks and Dieudonné’s? They both made racist remarks and insults, encouraging hate and division, but one of them has been punished because he insulted a non-Islamic event, and the other will get away citing freedom of speech. What makes it all the more worse is the fact that the latest orientalist, Islamophobic and racist messaging comes from a country that likes to lecture the world about democracy, freedom of expression and faith.
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