by Hugh Fitzgerald
Hamid Dabashi, the tireless apologist for Islam and slavish admirer of the late Edward Said, about whom he wrote an unforgettable “Ode to Edward Said,” has recently delivered himself of some remarks about the vast and sinister campaign being waged throughout the world against innocent Muslims. In Dabashi’s vivid and hysterical imagination, it’s a truly frightening story.
Here it is:
What is happening to Muslims around the globe? In China they are put into concentration camps, in Myanmar they are slaughtered en masse, in India they have been the targets of systematic pogroms, in Israel along with Christian Palestinians they are mowed down on a daily basis, in Europe and the United States they are subject to increasing demonisation and persecution.
In China, Muslims are not placed in “concentration camps” as that term is commonly understood from the Nazi and Communist models. They are not murdered, not subject to ghoulish medical experiments, not tortured to death, not worked to death. They are in “re-education camps,” where they are certainly subject to grueling sessions of memorization and forced recitals of anti-Muslim and pro-Communist slogans. Awful places, these re-education camps, compared to ordinary life, but positively paradisaical compared to the real “concentration camps” — such places as Belzec, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Kolyma. Don’t expect Hamid Dabashi to make the distinction — as far as he is concerned, Muslims today are the “new Jews,” suffering just like the Jews did under the Nazis. A Chinese “re-education camp” for Uighurs, where the only deaths are from natural causes, is likened by Dabashi to a “concentration camp” with a mortality rate of 99%. The ability to make distinctions is not Dabashi’s strong suit.
As for the Muslim Rohingya, they were fleeing Buddhists who, after Rohingya insurgents had attacked 24 police posts in August 2017, erupted in fury against the Muslim minority.
Of the 1.3 million Rohingya, 700,000, or about half, have fled to Muslim Bangladesh. The total number of Rohingya killed to date has been estimated at 10,000. All such deaths are to be deplored, but they also ought to be correctly described. 10,000 is less than 1% of the Rohingya population, and they cannot reasonably be described as having been “slaughtered en masse.”
As for India, to describe the communal violence there only as directed at Muslims — “they have been the targets of systematic pogroms” — is ludicrous. There have been killings of both Hindus by Muslims and of Muslims by Hindus. Does Dabashi have to be reminded of what happened during the Partition in 1947, or in the decades since? In 1951 Muslims were 9.8% of the Indian population; today they are more than 14%. in the same period, the Hindu population of both Pakistan and Bangladesh has gone steadily down. In Pakistan, Hindus were, in 1951, more than 20% of the population in what was then West Pakistan; now they are 2%. In Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), Hindus were 22% of the population in 1951, 13% in 1974, and 8% today. In other words, the Hindu percentage of the population in both Pakistan and Bangladesh has steadily decreased, while the Muslim percentage of the population of India, per contra, has steadily increased. It is a case of Muslims driving out Hindus — through persecution and murderous attacks, including pogroms — not the reverse.
The largest “pogroms” by far since the Partition of India have been the killings of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindu Brahmins) who have been murdered, often in quite sadistic ways, frequently being raped and tortured before being killed. Thousands were murdered in the early 1990s. Most tellingly, 300,000 to 600,000 Hindus were living in the Kashmir Valley in 1990, but only 2,000–3,000 remained there in 2016. That provides some idea of the fear the Muslim pogroms engendered. Dabashi makes no mention of this pogrom carried out by Muslims against the Kashmiri Pandits since the 1990s. Nor does he mention the Muslim attacks that have markedly decreased the number of Hindus in both Pakistan and Bangladesh. Nor does Dabashi mention a single one of the several hundred Muslim terror attacks with mass casualties — most famously in Mumbai, in New Delhi and Delhi, in Hyderabad, and in dozens of other cities. He fails to note, too, that in recent years there has been an upsurge in Muslim terrorist attacks in India, with more than 600 separate attacks — out of a total of more than 800 attacks annually — being perpetrated by Muslims on Hindu victims. For Dabashi, the Muslims alone are victims; the Hindus alone are the killers.
Dabashi bewails, finally, the murderous Israelis, who “[kill Muslims] along with Christian Palestinians they [sic] are mowed down on a daily basis.”
“Mowed down on a daily basis”? Since the Great March of Return began in Gaza at the end of March 2018, the Israelis have done everything they could not to “mow down” those “Palestinians” in Gaza who were marching on the security fence. The Israelis used tear gas and rubber bullets, and only in the case of “Palestinians” who actually made it to the fence, and were managing to cut their way through to Israel, did they use live fire, aiming below the knees to stop marchers. Only in the most serious cases, with those who were right at the security fence, throwing Molotov cocktails and other explosives, including grenades, or in some cases had guns, and were shooting at Israelis, or letting loose incendiary kites over Israel, did the Israelis aim above the knees at those who were an immediate threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers and civilians. There have been about 170 “Palestinians” killed in the 270 days since the Great March began on March 30. That is less than one person a day. That does not constitute “mowing down on a daily basis” innocent “Palestinians” — all of those “innocents” have been armed, with Molotov cocktails and other explosives, or grenades, guns, incendiary kites, and all of them have been intent on killing Israelis.
The fate of Muslims in their own homeland is not particularly rosier. From one end of the Muslim world to the next, Muslims – in Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in particular – live under tyrannical regimes, ruthless dictators, murderous military juntas, with their most basic civil liberties and human rights denied. In Yemen, they are being slaughtered and subjected to man-made famine by the Saudis and their partners – and if one journalist dared to raise his voice he is chopped up to pieces in his own country’s consulate.
Yes, it is true that there are tyrannies, ruthless dictators, murderous juntas, in so many Muslim countries — Dabashi could have listed several more violence-riven Muslim states (as Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan) — but what does this Muslim-on-Muslim violence have to do with the Unbelievers? Dabashi doesn’t explain. Does he want to blame us, the Unbelievers in the West, for the rule of the Shi’a mullahs, for the Assad despotism, for the more enlightened despotism of Abdelfattah El-Sisi, for the ruthless Al-Saud family of kleptocrats in Saudi Arabia? Perhaps Dabashi should ask himself what is it about the ideology of Islam that makes its adherents uniquely violent and uniquely impervious to democracy? Could it have something to do with the violence that is everywhere in the Qur’an and the Hadith? There are 109 Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to conduct violent Jihad, to “smite at the necks” of the Unbelievers, to “strike terror” in their hearts. Could the violence of Muslim societies have to do with Muhammad, as the Model of Conduct, who took part himself in dozens of military campaigns and claimed that “I have been made victorious through terror”? There is the ideology of Islam, by which the ruler’s legitimacy depends only on his being a good Muslim; being a despot has never been a disqualification.
What is this? What is going on? What does it all mean?
Let’s begin with China. How are we to fathom the criminal, vicious, atrocities of the Chinese authorities in their Muslim gulags? “If ethnic cleansing takes place in China and nobody is able to hear it, does it make a sound?” asks Josh Rogin, in a poignant piece for the Washington Post. “That’s what millions of Muslims inside the People’s Republic are asking as they watch the Chinese government expand a network of internment camps and systematic human rights abuses designed to stamp out their peoples’ religion and culture.”
The numbers and the very idea are staggering: the UN reported that more than one million Uighurs are in detention in “counter-extremism centres” and at least two million are in “re-education camps”.
In another investigative piece, BBC reports: “China is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Muslims without trial in its western region of Xinjiang. The government denies the claims, saying people willingly attend special “vocational schools” which combat “terrorism and religious extremism”. That “terrorism and religious extremism” bit belies the malignant intent of these camps.
In another report, we read, “Muslims forced to drink alcohol and eat pork in China’s ‘re-education’ camps.” The same reports further add: “The psychological pressure is enormous when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking.”
These are not just journalistic reports. “British diplomats who visited Xinjiang,” Britain’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has told parliament, “[we] have confirmed that reports of mass internment camps for Uighur Muslims were ‘broadly true’.”
Yes, we have already noted that re-education camps are deplorable. But they are nothing like real Soviet “gulags” or Nazi “concentration camps,” as Hamid Dabashi calls these Chinese re-education camps. No one is being worked to death, no one is physically tortured, no mass murders are taking place. These places are not Auschwitz nor Kolyma.
Then we come to Myanmar. The massacre of Muslim-majority Rohingya in Myanmar under the watchful eyes of the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has horrified the world but been kept apace [sic] for years now.
To repeat, there have been 10,000 killed, that is, less than 1% of a total Rohingya population of 1.3 million. Is that a “massacre”?
Since 2016, Muslim-majority Rohingya in Rakhine State have been the targets of Myanmar armed forces and police, which have been accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide by the United Nations, International Criminal Court officials, human rights groups, journalists, and governments including the United States.
Hamid Dabashi leaves out the original cause of the latest killings in Myanmar: the attack by Rohingya insurgents on 24 police stations in August 2017. He also leaves out other attacks by Rohingya on the Myanmar police, including a major one in October 2016. He does not go into the history of attempts by the Rohingya to split off Rakhine State and join it to East Pakistan, nor of how the Rohingya massacred tens of thousands of Buddhists during World War II. Dabashi’s use of the word “genocide” deserves examination. Genocide involves the attempt to wipe out a whole people. It does not describe what has happened to the Rohingya, half of whom remain living, as they have always lived, in northern Myanmar; the other half have fled to Bangladesh without any attempt by the Myanmar army either to stop them from leaving, or to attack them. Think of the very different fate of Jews who tried to escape from Nazi-occupied lands. As noted above, fewer than 1% of the Rohingya have been killed, which is indefensible, but is hardly a “genocide” as that word is generally understood.
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