Breaking the Idol of Mockery — Tamim Faruk

https://www.safinasociety.org/post/breaking-the-idol-of-mockery

Me gusta this article, and I have decided to (procrastinate a little and) think about my thoughts on it:

You cannot consider ‘liberalism’ – which, all in all, holds that ‘liberty’ is the most important thing – without due consideration of its colonial histories. To be ‘free’ means to be without (or, to act in spite of) constraints. And when liberty, in and of itself, becomes the primary value for a people, abstract values (for example, concerning the sanctity of certain things, and the mutuality of social rights and responsibilities) become less important; a threat, even, to liberalism’s primary focus. ‘Individual freedoms’.

If one is to be ‘free’, then one is free to offend. One is free to cause harm. One is free to exploit others, and to generate endless amounts of wealth, at the expense(s) of just about anything.

Truly, in ‘liberal’ societies such as France, who is ‘free’ to act in accordance with their own individual desires? The powerful or the (comparatively) powerless? Would an Islamic magazine satirising, say, the concept of democracy (which even Plato, for example, had criticised) garner the same response, from the French public, as secular magazines mocking Muhammad (SAW)? Probably not. Based on the nuances of history, and as a result of ensuing sensitivities, such a thing would likely stir up a lot of anger, fear, and intolerance… just as the donning of the headscarf would appear to do, in France.

In its colonial past, France has had control (gained and maintained through violence — through one group exercising their ‘freedoms’) over a number of different nations, including a handful of Muslim-majority ones. Bloody and brutal are many aspects of this history, and now France has, within its borders, roughly five million citizens who are of Muslim descent.

The definition of bullying is using power in order to belittle, taunt, and degrade those who are less powerful than oneself. Muhammad (SAW) is a very important figure, in Islam; to Muslims. Just as Jesus is, to (believing) Christians.

Fundamentally, as the author of the above article mentions, there is a difference between bullying and mockery, and attempting to engage in discussion and debate. In fact, the former tends to be designed in order to, a) stifle the latter, and to b) evoke strong emotional responses… for the sadistic pleasure, I suppose, of the powerful.

And, yes, one can bully another not solely directly by insulting them, but also by insulting what is important to them. You know, how some insult others’ mothers, to bring about a potent emotional reaction in them? Like that, no?

The point of satire, in general, is to keep governmental authority and such in check. But when the relatively powerless are mocked, or when something or someone deeply important to them is mocked, it is bullying.

I like to think in terms of abstract things and comparisons, I guess. So: if there were two households, and Household A were to take some of Household B’s belongings, brutalise some of their family members, and put them at a strong economic disadvantage… and then, if they were to blame Household B for their own suffering, labelling them “savages” and “barbarians” and then, several years later, if later members of Household A were to openly mock B’s religion and/or whatever is, or has been, sacred to them… Would this be, in any way, morally justifiable? In the name of ‘liberty’, and through feigning the moral upper hand?

Liberalism. Liberalism for whom, and at the expense of what and whom? I think, when one group freely, and without accountability, indulges in their ‘freedoms’ (which are naturally augmented as a result of power, and also in turn leads to the augmentation of power) necessarily, another group’s ‘freedoms’ – those of the less powerful – are constricted. Read: the colonial history of France, and the supposed bastion of ‘liberty’ the nation has become, today.


With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

Swiss Cheese and Baguettes

From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th November, my family and I enjoyed a splendid weekend break to Saint Louis in France (near the French-Swiss border) after only a week or so of planning. In my view, spontaneous trips are by far the best kind, and are often cheaper than all-inclusive trips during the school holidays, when airport queues are longer, the activities on offer are far too cliche, and having an adventure is simply not an option. 

 

I apologise for the delay in posting this article. Recently, I have been immensely preoccupied with exam revision, homework and coursework. Education is, no doubt, an intrinsically beautiful thing, however stress is an inevitable product of it.

I have decided to use a slightly different layout for this article; I shall share with you a handful of edited excerpts from my journal:

12/11/15: Tomorrow, at 4:00, we shall leave for Switzerland. I am experiencing some mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I am very excited to learn more about another part of the world- about the landscape, customs and people of Switzerland. On the other hand, I am terrified. According to numerous online reports, Islamophobia is widely prevalent there.

13/11/15 7:18: We are all aboard the plane. Getting here has been a predictably unpleasant experience. Flying with Ryanair has, so far, been a worse one. Many of the staff members were alarmingly rude. For example, when my necklace triggered the metal detector, the woman at Security remarked, in a very impudent manner, “That’s a surprise”.

Additionally, when we told the lady at the departure gate that my aunt has severe learning disabilities, and so is unable to respond to her questions, she said, without a shred of consideration, “So what? You understand, don’t you?”.

Tutting is the language of Ryanair staff.

11:13: We have rented a car from Sixt, and are attempting to configure the Sat-Nav, whose display settings are currently set to French.

12:48: We are eating at a kebab shop- Kebab de l’Europe. Saint Louis is absolutely beautiful. Contrary to my own prejudices, the people here are so very amicable and jovial. I may be generalising here, but the people of Saint Louis are far more courteous than the people of East London!

19:22: The ‘Aparthotel’ is very homely and pleasant.

For lunch, I enjoyed an oversized Margherita pizza. Then, for dinner, I rebelliously had a banana, two biscuits and a few brioche slices with chocolate spread, all of which I purchased earlier during our explorative walk around the town.

21:26: We have just returned from an evening vehicular cruise. We crossed the French-Swiss border and drove around Basel, Switzerland. We were fortunate enough to have seen the River Rhein- the very river that divides Germany, Switzerland and France.

For dinner, the sequel, I had noodles, which dad purchased from a nearby Japanese restaurant. I ate outside, on the balcony.

The streets of Basel are very different to the streets of Saint Louis, though both are astoundingly beautiful. The streets of Basel are a lot busier, and resemble the frenetic streets of London a lot more.

Today, it is Friday the thirteenth, but (save from my Ryanair experience) I’ve had an ironically pleasant day. Dad has been experiencing some difficulty adapting to the different road rules here. He is finding avoiding collisions with trams the most difficult aspect of driving here to overcome.

14/11/15 9:40: We are at Basel zoo. For breakfast, I made myself some instant porridge. As I sat down to eat, I noticed that my mum was watching the news on TV with a worried facial expression: yet another terrorist attack has taken place in Paris. Government officials suspect that ‘Islamist’ militants were behind the attacks. I am terrified.

Mum is fearful of the potential backlash that Muslims in France and Britain will undoubtedly face.

11:26: Our trip to the zoo was very enjoyable, though the animals all looked severely malnourished in comparison to those in London zoo. Seeing the lethargic animals made me ponder on the notion of freedom.

We are now at a Turkish restaurant- Yasar Imbiss- in Basel. After lunch, while everyone else finished their meals, I played football outside with the owner’s son, Ali.

16:00: We are currently aboard a train, going halfway up the tallest mountain in Europe. I love train journeys, and I love mountains. My heart is content.

16:54: Earlier, Sweetie and I went hiking.  It is very cold, but we are warming ourselves up with some hot beverages at a mountain lodge. The atmosphere of this place is replete with rustic charm. The sun is setting, and I honestly cannot put into words how majestic this view is.

23:o1: At roughly 20:30, we returned to the hotel. After having an invigorating shower, I checked my Twitter newsfeed. In the wake of the the aforementioned terror attacks, some people are denigrating all Muslims! I firmly believe that, in order to eradicate such global cancers, we must all  (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) stand together. ISIS does not represent me, and it never will.

I am absolutely, categorically in love with Switzerland and its people. Wow.