When you think of Muslims….

Abu Hamza extradition case

Muslims have been in the news a lot in recent days.

There has been a lot of conflict in recent weeks over some rubbish film made in California that is anti-muslim. The result has been violent protest and deaths around the world.

It was also very interesting to hear Salman Rushdie on Start the Week recently talking about going into hiding after the Satanic Verses was published in the late ’80s. He was caught up and became a pawn in international geo-politics where Iran was trying to set itself over against Saudi Arabia as the protector of Islam. It’s well worth listening to.

Then there has been the news today of Abu Hamza and some other radicals losing their appeal to stay in the country and will now face trial in the US. Now I haven’t followed the trials and debate very closely but I am concerned the way that sometimes he has been portrayed by the media. The picture that I am using as the image at the top of the post is quite a common one that is used of him. But in the context maybe it would look different? The picture below is the larger one:

It seems far more likely that he was answering questions at a press conference and was using his hook (he lost his hands and an eye during a de-mining exercise during the US backed Afghan war against Soviet occupation) to be able to see against bright lights.

This isn’t to say that he shouldn’t stand trial on terrorism charges or that he is a hugely maligned man (he has already been found guilty of soliciting murder). But I think that the charges should stand on their own merit and not hid behind making him some sort of bogeyman due to his deformities.

It is easy in all of this to take an anti-Muslim approach and to write off all Muslims  and to condemn the religion of Islam as an intrinsically violent one. But that would be wrong and makes bogeymen out of a whole religion – just as it was wrong to condemn all Irish people during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. We as Christians are called to care for and value all people regardless of their race or religion. Just think of the Good Samaritan where Jesus challenges a Jewish leader to recognise the intrinsic value of someone who is a hated ancient enemy – religiously and ethnically.

Carl Medearis who has written books about Jesus and has done some great work with muslims and inter-faith understanding has just published (or re-published or re-blogged) this video entitled “When you picture Muslims is this what you think?”. Really worth watching and might make you think about how you think of Muslims.

http://vimeo.com/user9989606/review/42510754/83232e873d

Sorry I couldn’t embed the video.

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3 comments on “When you think of Muslims….

  1. Paul Barnard
    October 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Rosie originally drew my attention to this. Plenty of reasonable Muslims around who are actually very upset at the way a minority have reacted to the film.

    http://en.avaaz.org/783/muslim-rage-protests-newsweek-salafists?utm_source=avaaz_newsletter&utm_medium=blast&utm_campaign=stop-the-clash

    And i agree the way media have sensationalised Abu Hamza deportation is terrible, but not suprising!

    I do however think that maybe Abu Hamza uses his hook as a threatening image, after all as the Paralympics showed there are incredibly good looking prosthetics now, didn’t see any of them with a hook!

  2. Will Cookson
    October 7, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Paul,
    Great to hear from you. I totally agree that many Muslims don’t agree with how others react – one of the reasons that I wrote this post. With so many bad news stories around for Muslims at the moment I wanted to redress the balance a little!

    In terms of Aby Hamza and the hook bit – the hook is still a popular prosthetic! e.g. http://openprosthetics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-importance-of-hooks
    We also need to remember that you can’t judge others by the olympics (think of the multi-thousand pound bikes for example) they were given funding to have the prosthetics that worked best for them.

    As I said I don’t think that he is an angel and I’m not upset about his extradition I just don’t think that he should be portrayed as a bogeyman due to his injuries – its just classic textbook wrong

  3. Bukky
    October 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Remembered this article when we were talking about the use of photography in war on Monday. I have thought about this man a lot in the last couple of weeks, after realising one day that I have never heard his voice or his rhetoric, but have automatically accepted he is a “baddie” based on council housing issues, pictures of a wonky eye and a hook for a hand.
    I recently watched a documentary about some young girls (now in their 80s and 90s) who were loyal to the Hitler youth groups. One of them insisted “People think we must have known the horrors going on. We didn’t. We just believed what we were told”. Not much has changed since 1939. With even more powerful imagery and social media, it is easy to sit back and believe things without any attempt to think through.
    I’ll be interested to know the findings on war photography. It is quite a powerful force that can be used to shape behaviour.

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