Je suis un être humain

January 17, 2015 2:26 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

For the first time in a long lifetime, the events in Paris have left me cold, shocked, speechless and terrified.

Cold because of its inevitable cruelty. Shocked because of the awful response from a hypocritical world. Speechless because there can be nothing I could possibly say to explain the inexplicable – to defend the indefensible. And terrified because I have brown skin, a beard and I am a Muslim Palestinian – and although I am contented with my lot, my environment is making me feel increasingly like someone born on the wrong side of the tracks.

And, also, very upset – to walk into work and be told, “Ditch the beard! You look like a Muslim!” To walk into a café and be asked, “Why are your people doing this?” Immediate images of Nazi representations of Jews sprang to mind. It also brought back the virulent racism of a landlord who, in 1975, advised me to shave my beard because I looked like “a Palestinian terrorist” and who, when I paid my rent on time, told me that I was “as honest as a white man”! The worse part of it all was that he was also a helpful and kind man in all that he did for me and my new family at the time.

It is sad – passing sad that when a Christian commits a crime, he is a criminal. When a Muslim commits a crime he is a Muslim. Sounds familiar? Ann Frank asked the same question as she hid from the pernicious Nazis: “What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.”
It is depressing – crushingly depressing that the murders in Paris were responded to by hypocritical politicians without the courage to face reality and do that which would be for the common good.
Président Hollande went all out to increase his popular appeal. Prime Minister Netanyahu gatecrashed the world leaders’ gathering in Paris, linked arms with surprised leaders on both sides and strutted about spouting pernicious anti-Muslim propaganda. President Obama graced all with his absence. Other world leaders looked tired or indifferent. The press increased its, by now customary, Islamophobia.
The BBC gave saturated coverage of the murderous killing of seventeen Europeans and barely mentioned the murder of two thousand Northern Nigerians. In Germany, the neo-Nazis rejuvenated Hitler’s language of the gutter. Even the millions who meant well by their universal “Je suis Charlie” became oblivious of the hatred hysterically propelling their anger and hurt. Meanwhile, the surviving journalists and cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo produced a new edition, printed five million exemplars and diffused a crude and vulgar mixture of puerile cartoons and defiant articles reminiscent of drunken students during a rag week in the 1960s – and cynically resolved their financial dire straits with a stroke of a few pens.
Meanwhile, we could all hear the swish of the cane used to thrash a Saudi Arabian blogger who demanded secularism and the freedom to be critical of his Government. The public clamoured for the publication and media showing of the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as a gesture of defiance in the name of freedom. Never mind the hundreds of millions of decent and hard working Muslims who are silently deeply hurt and offended by such representation.
Of course, in a true democracy, they had every right to publish anything – even when discourteous or offensive to some. Just as British tabloids have every right to publish unreadable garbage that no one remotely intelligent would wish to read – except, of course, for a few million who buy them every day. Do readers remember the paparazzi who angered them so much by hounding poor Princess Diana so mercilessly? Yet, not one prurient reader had the courage or independence of mind to boycott buying such rags!
Even the serious newspapers mightily wallowed in the horrors of Islamic terror. These very papers never spoke of Christian terror when Iraq was invaded, when American drones killed innocent Pakistani and other citizens (collateral damage) or when the IRA or the Northern Irish Unionists killed each other. Not one serious paper called Israel’s killings of Palestinians, or other Arabs, Jewish terror. Not one serious paper referred to Buddhist Terror when Monks killed Muslims in Burma whilst a Nobel Prize for Peace Winner, who defied Burma’s military dictatorship, kept remarkably quiet when Muslims were being persecuted and murdered… The list of double standards is endless.

When innocents are killed as they go about their daily lives, we are outraged. We are frightened. We also lose our ability to think. To reflect. To do that which is right for all – including the victims who can no longer protect their surviving loved ones. After the events in Paris, I despaired. I did not want to speak about it. I did not want to spout inanities about awfulness, cruelty, defiance, forgiveness, humanity…

I just wanted to be left alone – hiding from an ugly world that I no longer felt part of. I could not go out. I stopped reading the newspapers – as I have done almost every day of my life. I stopped listening to the news. I immersed myself in fabricated work. Anything to stop feeling. To stop thinking. To stop the mounting fear. To stop watching the political hyenas pontificating insincerely just to please a rabid public baying for vengeance. Yet I was part of it. Whether I liked it or not.
And I had responses from so many friends who sought to alleviate my clear upset fast receding into the black dog of depression.
A message arrived from a dear Muslim friend: “Je suis Ahmed” (referring to the late heartbreaking French Muslim policeman Mr Ahmed Merabet shot outside Charlie Hebdo‘s office). She asked if “their lives were more precious than ours”. No. No. And no. All human life is sacred.
Another message came from a genuine Christian friend – angered so badly that she forgot Christ’s Sermon on forgiveness: “Bring back hanging for all those who want Shari’a law”. She added that all Muslims were “visitors” in the West and that they were disrespecting their “generous hosts”! No. No. And no. Muslims are equal citizens with equal rights and responsibilities.

And from a good Jewish friend: “French Jews should come home to Israel”. Never mind the marginalised and squeezed indigenous population: the Palestinians. No. No. And no. Make peace with the Palestinians who are already there and those who have the right to be there and stop using religion as an excuse for all that you do to harm others.
And from Politicians? Read the papers and weep. No. No. And no. What can anyone say about our modern lightweight and rather insular politicians? What on earth is happening to our world? Why can’t we listen to each other? Why can’t we see what we have in common with each other? Why can’t we care for each other? We can’t we share with each other? We can’t we forgive each other? Why can’t we just love each other?
Je ne suis pas Charlie ou Ahmed ou Naomi ou n’importe quel nom religieux…Je suis un être humain. And I wish to listen to everyone – including those young Muslim men and women driven to these destructive deeds by marginalisation, rejection, racism and suspicion. To those Islamophobes and Anti-semites driven to their bigotry by fear, inhumanity and greed. To those double standards believers who bend with the changing wind. Even to those politicians who persistently see only a minute part of the picture – the part that garners them votes – as Obama and Cameron do, without a single thought for the overwhelming majority of decent and honest Muslims, Jews and other minorities who are daily facing increasing hostility from a frightened public listening to those two awful rabble rousers. To frightened Jews asking for protection outside synagogues and schools whilst mosques and Muslim schools are left to themselves. To an OfSTED that talks untruthful nonsense about Islamic Trojan horses without a similar look at other faith schools in this country… This is an open ended list…
Parce que que nous sommes tous des êtres humains. We are all one – in every way. And if this makes me sound naïve, then so be it. I no longer wish to reason with hypocrites, hysterics and those led by the mob. Because “Je suis un être humain”…
The rest is silence – made deaf by their hatreds all…

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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi

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