Say No to Victimhood

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Propagation of victimhood must cease and a proactive attitude should be encouraged. Nobody around the world will be hostile to us if we genuinely love them all and work for all-round peace, progress and prosperity.

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

The insane killing of 49 Muslims in the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch on March 15 has saddened us all. No words will be enough to condemn the dastardly killing of people who were gathering for the purpose of praying for peace, progress and prosperity. The Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant deserves the most condign punishment. Even a death penalty to him will not compensate for the death of 49 innocent people. Our heart goes out to the departed souls and our hands rise in prayer to seek peace and patience for the survivors as well as those who lost their near and dear ones.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden deserves all praise for the exceptional way she handled the situation. Muslims around the world owe a special word of thanks to her. The Honble Prime Minister called a special session of the Parliament, condemned the racist terrorist and declared that all those who have come to New Zealand were not ‘them’ but among ‘Us’. She even went into action and banned licences for the possession of the semi-automatic weapons lest a future killer use them for perpetrating similar violence.
All world leaders and nations have condemned the killings. Some sections of the Western media that is the only global media currently as there are no alternative purveyors of news and images have dubbed the killer a terrorist. Previously, they avoided this term with persons like Anders Brevik, the Norwegian shooter who shot dead 77 people in Oslo on July 22, 2011. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the Christchurch attacker as an Australian “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.
The incident has left us all in deep grief. But it should not drive us into a victimhood mindset in order to bring about solidarity in the name of religion. Social media and even the Urdu media is full of such news items. Victimhood can be vaguely translated into “Mazloomiyat ki zehniyat” in Urdu. It rears its head whenever Muslims are targeted, generally in the West and by non-Muslims. The general feeling that swamps the Muslims is that they are being targeted because they are ‘Muslims”, nothing else. Jamaats, Jamiats and Anjumans will take up the cause of seeking solidarity in the name of religion, as is being witnessed currently. This is a negative tendency. Victimhood draws its essence from oppression, repression and atrocities. It is one thing to feel sad and outraged, and quite another to think that all such killings are because we are followers of a particular religion.
Now look at a few contrasts in our own attitude. Did any Jamaat or Jamiat condemn Saudi Arabia for unilaterally bombing Yemen for the last three years? We know for sure that that poor country has no means to counter the attacks by the Saudis. Saudi bombing has targeted Yemenis in mosques, schools, madrassas, weddings and even funerals. Thousands have perished. And we are also sure that they were all Muslims. Were they not? TV footage has shown that the killed included children and women. Why is it that Jamaats, Jamiats and Anjumans have kept quiet? Why do they keep mum when Muslims are killed in Syria or Iraq but wake up when it is the case of New Zealand or United States? Should not we be equally concerned for the victims in Yemen and Syria at the hand of their co-religionists?
Journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Tell me if any Jamaat or Jamiat, Board or Council in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, or even in the US, the UK or Indonesia, condemned this killing? Why this silence? What does it imply? Why does our tongue go into silent mode when killings of Muslims happen at the hands of Muslims themselves? All killings that are unjust and unfair deserve condemnation. But we have a selective approach. When Rohingyas are driven out from Myanmar, we rise in protest, but when two-thirds of Syrians are forced to leave the country by a barbaric regime, we remain unconcerned. This is one reason our concern for violation of human rights does not carry credibility and is considered unauthentic and non-genuine. The world has come to know that we are reactionaries and out to exploit victimhood. And this can happen only when oppressors are not from our midst. Our leaders cannot draw people for a positive cause, such as improving literacy, empowerment of women and weaker sections, building up institutions for financial help, media, libraries, cooperatives, hostels, or to protect human rights, gender rights, transgender rights, et al. But they have limitless potential to inflame passions following carnages where we are at the receiving end. We have care-a-damn attitude towards more horrendous shootings, bombings and expulsions within the Muslim world.
It is where we perhaps need to introspect. Victimhood (mazloomiyat pasandi) has to be given up. Our concern for human rights should be regardless of one’s faith, caste and community and nation-state. There should have been voices telling the Saudis to stop bombing of Yemen, and there should have been condemnation of what happened to Khashoggi. But we chose to remain silent. No resolutions were passed. No protests were held.
We should not build solidarity around problems, but should seek people to rally round for solutions. Solution-oriented solidarity will require time to take roots and will be more durable. But problem-oriented solidarity can be built up by inflaming passions in a jiffy and will vanish within no time.
Propagation of victimhood must cease and a proactive attitude should be encouraged. Nobody around the world will be hostile to us if we genuinely love them all and work for all-round peace, progress and prosperity. Getting off victimhood is of course difficult. Its roots are embedded in our decline during the last three centuries. We are too accustomed to it. But let us realize that there is no escape from getting out of victimhood.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])