By Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja
French President Macron – What He Said and What He Meant?
Politics is a game of pretension, saying something and meaning something else. President Emmanuel Macron appears to be no exception in a hybrid political culture of uncanny coincidence to blame Islam for the criminal acts of one individual. The reactionary beheading of a French school teacher has nothing to relate to Islamic faith and the socio-economic and political harmony encompassing the historic relationships between France and the Muslim world. Two weeks earlier, President Macron claimed “Islam is in crisis” and striving to overshadow the freedom and justice of the French Republic when the teacher showed a caricatures of the Prophet of Islam to his students. His remarks painted a portrait of degradation of the Prophet of Islam and indifference in restraining the turbulent human ingenuity. Agreeably, the insanity of perpetuated mockery and reactionary respondents have no place in the 21st century realm of reason and religious tolerance and human unity as if we the mankind has lost all of our values and culture of reasoned maturity. Consequently, the reactionary public imagination is tormented by religious-social and economic retribution in many parts of the Muslim world. Did President Macron know enough about Islam and its perceived issues in any political context? Islam is not in crisis but Muslims are. What Muslims believe and what they practice are often two varied conflicting time zones. The Muslim world is controlled by the Western imperialists and most authoritarian leaders are puppets of the Western military establishments. Many leaders in the Middle East and other Muslim nations have no sense of Islamic thoughts and values and pretend to be wise but in reality are devoid of knowledge, Islamic intellect and foresight for the future. If President Macron is contemplating that political confrontation between Turkey-France and the so called Arab leaders and the masses, he should have clarified it.
The unwelcome statement attributed to President Macron points out to an evil eye focused on some prehistoric paradigms of religious and political animosities. Viewing the global news media screen, it seems as if past is not dead but living in minds of the few. On both sides of the religious-political spectrum, the epoch of great global hatred and instability comes to alarm all the concerned in global affairs. Could we afford to neglect, fracture and amorphize all the existing monumental achievements in peaceful co-existing and mutual peace and harmony between France and the Islamic people? President Macron attributed the wrong thought at a wrong time weeks prior to the insane killing of a school teacher. False statements give rise to false impressions and images breeding more confusion, conflicts and insincere characterization of sensitive belief and values in all religious episodes. Across the globe many false leaders occupy the positions of power and influence. The contemporary world is already overwhelmed with problems – what to talk of COVID-19 pandemic and its dehumanizing impacts all over the mankind, in such moments of crises, we do not need more challenges of ignorance and cruelty to human thoughts, beliefs and values. Those who indulge in cruelty and terrorize innocent people are tragically abnormal insane beings with no place in any civilized society. Islam does not teach or preach killing of innocent people. Those dreadful individuals are responsible for their own criminal acts, not the society.
Muslim Societies to Think Critically – Who They are and Where They are?
In today’s interview with Al-Jazeera network (October 31, 20), President Macron seem to have clarified some of his original remarks or perhaps rethinking what lead him to make certain value conclusion of Islam. The statement generated lingering suspicion and lead to a debacle which swept the catastrophic social reactionary consequences and political ends across the global political theater. One would imagine that all intelligent leaders should be endowed with knowledge-based understanding and courage to respect others moral and religious values. The leaders unlike President Trump utterance on “Black Lives Matter”, are expected to be sensitive and respectful to all other citizens of the society.
There are approximately more than five to six million Muslims populating France. The sudden and inexplicable dive to religious animosity could be devastating to all the law –abiding citizens of French Republic. If one acts criminally, the whole society cannot be held hostage for the crime of one individual – it poses a mortal threat to human peace, unity and societal survival. Likewise, the reactionary volatile assumptions and behavior by Muslim masses in many part of the globe do not touch the sensitive issues of human indifference, political prejudice and obsessed discrimination. Violent assumptions could plague with extravagant ideas, and outrageous display of reaction that cannot help to resolve the problem and leads to nowhere in global political affairs. The burning of President Macron photo, French flag and terribly irrational behavior leave indelible imprints on human minds and values as if the protesters had lost sense of rationality and moral behavior. If President Macron is wrong, how could another wrong action correct the wrong judgment? There is no evidence to imagine any threat from the Muslim population of the French Republic. French Republic will soon have elections and may be this is a prelude to political quagmire.
Since early 1990’s with the publication of Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, we are witnessing increasing turbulent incidents of anti- Islamic rhetoric in many parts of the Western political culture. There is a serious challenge to human intellect and reason in the 21st century global affairs. France was once an Empire – a colonial power controlling large parts of the Muslim world. But when France needed help and manpower to defend its Freedom and Justice during the Two World Wars, several millions of North African Muslim subjects of French Empire fought for its defense, freedom and glory. Strange, how French President could have ignored the sacrifices of those who are at the epicenter of blame game today in French politics. The tragic tensions of history are being portrayed in an unreasoned political context. We as human societies should not submit ourselves to a careless moment and its criminal incident of one individual. There have been many cruel incidents of innocent killings of civilians in France raising the political temperature of leadership’s aims, concerns and emotional outbursts.
True knowledge of Islam bestows respect, equality and immense sense of unity with the People of the Book – The Jews and Christians. While experiencing the pains, horrors and unthinkable human casualties at a time of COVID-19 Pandemic in France and worldwide, we cannot look for fearsome and ferocious religious dogmatism. True knowledge of Faith is benevolent, not cruelty and retaliation. All genuine civilized people cannot support perversion from reality and killings of innocent civilians. There are observed traces of ignorance and emotional pains when Muslims react to such political indoctrinated and despotic statements of insult. Situations of crises should unleash healthy rethinking that one must be rational, and exercise dignity of human character, soul and reasoned temper. Muslim societies urgently need Thinking People, not dead conscious leaders, public demonstrations and denunciations to blame others. Ostensibly, Thinking People cannot be defeated; they can cope with diverse problems and can change difficult situations into plausible outcomes. If Muslims are strong in faith and practice moral and spiritual codes of conduct, they could manage most of the current problems of indifference and absurd global politics. Human unity, peace and societal tranquility live in the conception of good. There is a lot of evil and a lot of good in the creed of optimism. Gary Wills (What the Qur’an Meant and Why it Matters. NY, 2019), an American scholar attempts to explain the converging reality of today’s politics:
Living with fear is corrosive. It depletes the patience to sort out threats and to calibrate responses. The less we know about the reality of Islam, the more we will fight shadows and false emanations from our apprehension. Ignorance is the natural ally of fear. It is time for us to learn about the real Islam, beginning with its source book- The Qur’an.
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international affairs-global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution. Lambert Academic Publications, Germany, 12/2019.