Sunday, April 06, 2008

Muslim Graves Desecrated in France

The BBC reports that a "148 Muslim graves in France's biggest WWI cemetery" have been vandalized.
(IC, Al Jazeera)

The report says that "A pig's head was hung from one headstone and slogans insulting Islam and France's Muslim justice minister were daubed on other graves."

Some call it Islamophobia. I see it as the march of fascist racism against Muslims. Just look around.



nunya said...

This was an ugly thing to do and I am certainly not condoning, or excusing it. Muslims are not the only victims though.

"In a similar attack in April 2007,... Two men were sentenced to a year in prison for that act."

April 1, 2007 – Lille – Vandals damaged more than fifty tombs in the Jewish section of a cemetery in Lille in northern France.

Ok maybe it's photoshopped ?

Fascism can be found where you choose to look for it.

The elements, developed or not are in all of us.

And so is the capacity for change.

Ridwan said...

Nunya the important thing to note about the 'other' cases at the same cemetry is that Muslim graves were desecrated then too.

I am not sure if you are following the cases outside of France but I think that Muslims face a time when anti-Islamic feelings are vented on a daily basis.

A useful site to look at is:

Here are a few anti-Muslim issues to chew on:

**Alison Ruoff, "A senior lay member of the Church of England's
"Parliament" has called for a ban on the building of more mosques in Britain."

**Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders released a short film called Fitna that blatantly attacks Islam and the Qur'an, which he calls false.

**During Islam Awareness Week at Harvard white students opposed the call to prayer being said on campus. They claimed Islam discriminated against them.

**Georgetown academic, Daniel Pipes, wrote in the Jerusalem Post (April 2) that "Indigenous Europeans" must act to stop the "Islamification of Europe."

**Last week the Vatican warned that Muslims now outnumber Catholics for the first time in history.

The weight of the warning was hardly missed by my Muslim bretheren who have also carried the weight of Black/brown skins against the genocidal charge that there are too many of us on the planet.

**McCain's spiritual advisor, Rod Parlsely, has called for "eradicating the false religion of Islam."


You will remember that McCain has courted, and received, Parsley's endorsement. On February 26 McCain appeared with Parsley and called him his (McCain's)
"spiritual guide".

McCain endorses this thinking on Islam and differs only that he speaks of "radical Islam" ...

And so does Hillary and Obama. Radical Muslims and Islam is one and the same thing to the mind that sees the religion as a threat to western sensibilities.

Obama has bent backwards to demonize radical Muslims (for whatever it may mean) to prove to Americans that he is not Muslim.

The list of attacks on Muslims could go on and on.

To be Muslim today is to be like a scourge. In these contexts, I know that my religion is under attack because I am under attack.

This attack it is not made any less insidious simply because other groups suffer intimidation and racism too.

I don't think my friend Eugene, for example, will mediate what I am saying here because of the genocide that Indians suffer/ed in North and South America.

Your points are well taken but it must be said that it is problematic to create a kind of "equality" of oppressions.

What happens inside of such a position is that racism is advanced and not curtailed.

It is an untenable position simply because it is a defensive one.

Still, the addage that "two wrongs does not make a right" comes to mind.

I expect that the vandals who desecrated Muslim graves are Christian or at least from Christian backgrounds, yet you will find few Muslim voices that will color all Christians as fanatics or radicals.

The Qur'an sees Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as one religious movement.

The politics that attack Islam has little to do with knowing the content of Islam or its history.

The lumping of all Muslims together is what makes the attack on those graves an act of racist facism.

That is why I say look around, and I am not saying this because I am delusional, it is real and so is the weight of oppression that is being directed at all Muslims.

Peace Nunya,

Ridwan said...

Here in Kimberley my family members are buried in one Muslim cemetry that has been vandalized by white South Africans at least three times over the last 5 decades.

The worst of these attacks occurred in the fifties when white folk went into the graveyard and smashed most of the headstones.

They were never prosecuted.

The same happened again in the eighties.

The graveyard sits in what is now a white neighborhood but it was not 150 plus years ago when my early ancestors were buried there.

At the beginning of the
post-apartheid I went to pay my respects to my ancestors and family at the graveyard. (We still bury there today)

I found that the vases on my sister's grave were smashed and the flowers thrown off the grave.

I asked the Black caretaker what had happened and he told me that a white youth had shot the vases on the grave with a pellet gun.

The man remembered who the vandal was and I found him in a matter of hours.

No legal case was made but his people/family argued that he was a good young man and that they could not understand why he had shot pellets at my sister's grave.

I understood. And still do.

For this reason I am hardly surprised that a group of Afrikaners threw the dead carcases of three pigs into a mosque in a small town about an hours drive from where I am sitting right now.

And I also understand why a dead pig's head was put on one of the graves in France.

No big puzzle.

Peace and struggle,

Shus li said...

Ridwan, these incidents are appalling. They obviously stem from someone's deep hatred. I'm truly sorry for what you and others are feeling.

Some of my Native American relatives are buried on what was their "allotment" land from the US occupying forces. The graves were clearly marked. A few years ago, my parents went to put my aunt's ashes there, and someone had studiously removed all traces of where the graves were. Oh, and a small cabin had been placed on our land.

Also, there were "pot hunters" desecrating Indian burial grounds - repeatedly - near Siletz. You can ask Dino Butler how that turned out for them. They are dead, and he is free. Even though there are laws in this country against grave robbing Indian burials, these laws were not enforced until Mr. Butler enforced them.


Ridwan said...

Shushli I am appalled to read what happened on the "allotment" land. I am not surprised though.

I know you understand the hurt and insult.

Last week there was a case here where a white farmer bulldozed a Black burial ground that is located on his land.

All he left was the lone white grave. When relatives sought access to their relatives graves they found him growing crops there instead.

There is no respect for the sanctity of the dead. Here in South Africa we still bury in racially divided cemetries.

I talked to my parents about the case in France and they started telling me about cases where graveyards have been desecrated, I lost count of the incidents.

Now who would want to believe that even the dead are not white, and even alien in their own soil.

Thank you for looking in my sista.

Thank you indeed.

Peace and struggle,

Dade said...

I expect we'll see similar incidents in the US soon enough...

Ridwan said...

Unfortunately my brother Dade it has made its way to the shores of the US and Canada.

Islamaphobia reports incidents of attacks against mosques and other Islamic centers in both countries.

At one major American university in the south a student has written to tell of abuse she faces daily for nothing more than wearing hijab.

Peace brother,

Dione said...

I am sorry to hear about your sister's grave. What a horrible site for you and your family.

What a sad thought for all of the human race, that not even the dead can escape intolerance, hatred and discrimination.

The way people choose to treat others is a sin in any religion. We should focus on our similarities, and appreciate the differences. WE ALL BLEED RED!!!

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Dione. I think that Nunya's comment is somewhat in the same vein.

But, it is not so.


Ridwan said...

I should say that what I mean is that both Nunya and Dione are speaking to the need to see ourselves as human, or one humanity.

I absolutely agree with this assertion and its implications for struggle agendas.

Nontheless, I am recognizing that in practice we do not live as one humanity. And therefore, it is hard to see that we all bleed red.


nunya said...

Yes Ridwan, you are correct in noting that two wrongs don't make a right. I think that the US has done a better job of integrating Muslims than Europe has. Some of that has to do with education levels of Muslim immigrants. Overall I have had more positive than negative interactions with Muslim immigrants.

I have been treated as a second class citizen in my place of work by Arab Muslim men (co-workers, waaaaaay before 9/11) and it pissed me off. Misogyny and polygamy have no place on an already overcrowded planet in the 21st century. I also have neighbors next door who I have genuine affection for.

I must be putting off really hateful vibes because she asked me to watch out for her kids (which I do anyway), and wanted to know if I wanted to go with her to visit her family in Iran next week. (snark)

nunya said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. My neighbor came to me and she seemed a bit upset that her friends that had converted to Christianity were trying to get her to convert. I told her that that was nonsense and she should just tell them no, that she was happy being a Muslim. She and I agreed that one of the good things about living in the US is that you are free to worship as you please. I also told her that the most effective way to deal with the Bible-thumpers that knock on the door all the time is to smile and tell them "I'm not interested, but thank you very much and have a nice day."

Ridwan said...

Nunya it is funny that you mention the incident about conversion.

Just last week we had someone from the Jehova Witnesses stop by. We were kind and accomodating but persistent that we were Muslim and not about to change.

I don't expect to see them around in the near future, well also because the family next door who are Christian asked them not to stop by in future.

Be well now,

Ridwan said...

Nunya I remember you telling me about your treatment by Arab
co-workers. I am sorry that you were treated badly, there is absolutely no excuse for such treatment.

I don't think that their treatment would have been any different after 9/11 or if you were a women of Chinese, Black, or South Asian extract.

The problem lies within patriachy and it is a problem that all men are party to whether they knowingly or unknowingly participate in oppressing women.

In these terms, Arab men are no more likely to be sexist. In fact, if they were Muslim they would have to follow the dictates of the Qur'an that emplores respect for all women whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or something else.

But I hear you and do not want to minimize what you experienced. They have no right to degrade you or make you any less than an equal human being.

And as a Muslim man I would call them on their sh*t if I was around, just like I would expect you to call me on my sh*t if I was to discriminate against you or anyone else for that matter.

I am sorry you were mistreated Nunya, you certainly deserve to be respected. All women are to be respected, anywhere.

Peace to you,

GiGi - The Shy Giraffe said...

i know i'm late on this...nonetheless, what they did to your sister grave horrified me. i'm sorry it happens to you and your family.

personally, at times i felt its hard telling folk you're a muslim, cuz they so quick to lump all of us as terrorists.


Ridwan said...

Gigi thank you for your looking in and for your words here.

It is a crazy time and the hate mongering seems universal. A few days ago I read how Pat Robertson called Islam a political movement and not a religion. He went on to make other very disturbing comments about Muslims and Islam.

And he does so without a word from the Republicans who are in need of his support come November.

A recent gallup poll has found that the vast majority of Americans are distrustful of Muslims. Only 32% of thos polled said they were not fearful or distrustful of Muslims.

Be well sista,

nunya said...

Ridwan, there were a couple of things I'd like to comment on. I'll start with this one because it has something to do with the other two: You say--

"**During Islam Awareness Week at Harvard white students opposed the call to prayer being said on campus. They claimed Islam discriminated against them."

To which I reply, freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. I personally hate the sound of the call to prayer. It may be soothing to Muslims, but it grates on my last nerve and here is why: I don't speak Arabic, I don't like anyone telling me when to pray, I don't respect sheeple, and it's loud. I don't like to listen to someone else's blaring car stereo either. Nobody in my church has to holler at the whole damn town to get people to go to church. It's a bother that Muslims seem to expect to be accommodated in western societies.

This article is quite reasonable and actually defends this woman, but I have a problem with her refusal to adapt to the society in which she lives:
Caricaturing Danish Muslims

(shaking hands is customary, they're not asking her to wear a bikini to the beach, just not stick out like a sore thumb)

**Alison Ruoff, "A senior lay member of the Church of England's "Parliament" has called for a ban on the building of more mosques in Britain."

(see above comment)

**Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders released a short film called Fitna that blatantly attacks Islam and the Qur'an, which he calls false.

(I beleive that this film has already struggled to see the light of day, and it will wither on the vine and die, unless the Islamists, and by that I mean radicals, violently protest it. It makes me wonder if Geert & his ilk are not only testing the limits of free speech, but calling the radicals out?)

"Nunya I remember you telling me about your treatment by Arab co-workers. I am sorry that you were treated badly, there is absolutely no excuse for such treatment."

Thank you for saying that, I do appreciate it. I think what bothered me the most about these experiences was that they were also disrespectful to another female Persian co-worker and reduced a couple of female Arab students to tears. It was their job to help students and they were downright ugly to these women who thought that they escaped all that bullcrap when they emigrated.