Lets be honest. Muslim Lives Don’t Matter. It doesn’t matter that we live in the 21st century. It doesn’t matter that previous world wars were supposed to have made people civilised or that “equality” is supposedly enshrined in international law. It doesn’t matter that we are all human beings, with the same hopes, dreams, past and futures. It is clear that some lives matter more than others.
If any other political event of the past year across the globe (refugee crisis, Brexit and that dude with funny hair becoming President, just to name a few) didn’t convince you, this should. Last week saw 6 men killed at a mosque in Quebec, Canada. Shots were fired at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday night, where more than 50 people had gathered for evening prayers, injuring more than 19 people, some of whom are still in critical condition in hospital
Shortly after the incident, police arrested and charged a French-Canadian student, Alexandre Bissonnette on six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder. According to fellow students, the 27-year-old was known for his far right views, and had visited the masjid in the week preceding the attack.
This tragic incident is yet another in a series of blows against the Muslim community in the West. And yet, despite it clearly fitting the definition of a terrorist attack, none but the Canadian Prime Minister acknowledged that it should be recognised as such. Instead we see the clear double standards thrown into even more sharp focus with the immediate contrast of the coverage of the attempted terrorist attack at the Louvre the same week. While the attempted attack on the Louvre enjoyed front-page coverage and messages of condemnation from international state officials, in comparison, the Quebec attack was largely ignored. Instead, the front page of British newspapers showed a smiling Bissonnette playing chess; humanising him despite his murderous actions.
It is no mystery as to what motivated this horrendous incident. In the same week President Trump moved to enact his controversial “Muslim Ban”, seeing protests erupt across the US and across the world. This is also against the backdrop of a similar attitude towards refugees and the on-going conflict in the Muslim world, and the threat of terror attacks. The rise of the alt-right and similarly conservative rhetoric in governments, this has justified the abuse, verbal or physical against the Muslim community. It was only a matter of time until this manifested in outright violence and murder.
Once again, Muslims are reminded that their lives are worth less in the eyes of the Western media, regardless of whether they are citizens of the Muslim world or in the West. The strategy of hate and fear that is currently being implemented cannot be challenged by individual Muslims trying to show what Islam really is despite our community’s best efforts. That’s why its essential for us as Muslims to unify, and recognise that Allah (swt) intends for us to be united under the banner of Islam, in a political as well as religious framework. Without the implementation of Islam by a state, there is no way to confront the narrative we see in the mainstream and to protect the lives of those most vulnerable. And unlike the nations we see today, a state according to the Quranic principles would truly value the lives of all people, regardless of gender, race or religion.
In times like these we must not lose hope, but instead recognise, that Islam as a way of life shines through in the midst of a world otherwise falling apart.