Hugh Fitzgerald: Omer Aziz on the Full Horror of Being an Innocent Muslim in the West (Part I)


In Toronto, Omer Aziz describes the full horror of being an innocent Muslim in the West.

Whenever someone used to ask me if I was Muslim, I often gave an evasive answer, something like, “I was born Muslim” or “My parents are Muslim.”

It was a strange way to phrase it. I told myself that the purpose of this hairsplitting was intellectual clarity, despite the fact that I had attended a mosque my entire childhood, that I had read the Quran in both Arabic and English, and that I felt personally connected to the history of Islam. Perhaps this was the natural recourse for someone who came of age after 9/11 and was taught to retreat into invisibility because of the dangers of being Muslim. I knew, in my heart, that I was drawing the distinction only to appear safer to white people, to show that I was one of the good ones, worthy of belonging.

This was not just respectability politics: It was an act of self-erasure.

What were the “dangers of being Muslim” in Canada? Where were all the attacks on Muslims? There has been exactly one attack on a mosque in Canada. After it, the country practically stood still, with Prime Minister Trudeau naturally in the lead, to express solidarity with Canada’s Muslims. Counting the attack in New Zealand, how many serious attacks have been carried out on mosques in the West since 9/11, that is, in nearly 20 years? Eight? Ten? Twelve? After 9/11, there were several hundred large-scale terrorist attacks by Muslims on Christian and Jewish targets, and a total of 34,500 terrorist attacks by Muslims, including attacks both on non-Muslims, and on fellow Muslims who were deemed either to be of the wrong sect (and hence, as Shi’a or Ahmadis, not “real Muslims”) or of demonstrating insufficient belief, and so could be treated as Infidels.

On Friday, nearly 50 of my fellow Muslims were massacred in cold blood in New Zealand. Not murdered but lynched, their deaths live-streamed to the sound of laughter. I long ago ceased to feel shocked at the violence directed against my community. But the heartbreak still comes.

They were not “lynched,” a word which implies a group of murderers; instead, they were killed by a single clearly insane man. Omer Aziz is no longer shocked about the “violence directed against [his] community.” He apparently does not care even to mention the much greater “violence directed” against Unbelievers by Muslims.

The killer knew which day to pick. Friday is the Islamic Sabbath, when Muslims gather in the mosque to bow their heads in devotion to the divine. As they prayed, they might have been thinking about their children at school or what to make for dinner, unaware that soon their loved ones would be washing their bodies in accordance with Islamic tradition, preparing for the funeral prayer, the only one in Islam that has no Athan, or call to prayer, because the Athan was recited into their ears when they were born. When these Muslims saw the white stranger enter the mosque, they would have had the Islamic greeting on their tongues: “Assalamu alaikum.” Peace be upon you.

Yes, the worshippers might have been thinking about their children at school or what to make for dinner. But more likely these devout worshippers would  have been paying attention to the content of their prayers, which would include the Fatiha (“the Opening”), one of the most common Muslim prayers.

The final two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah:

“Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”

Robert Spencer notes that “the traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the ‘straight path’ is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path — while the path ‘of those who have evoked Allah’s anger’ are the Jews, and those who have gone ‘astray’ are the Christians.”

It would make a different impression, as Omer Aziz knows perfectly well, if instead of imagining the mosque worshippers thinking about domestic matters, he were to describe the actual prayers of these New Zealand worshippers that curse both Christians and Jews. That denunciation is not a fiction of “Islamophobes.”

We know from the terrorist’s recording that one of his first victims welcomed him with the words “Hello, brother.” Muslims have long been depicted as an uncivilized, warlike people, but the opposite is true. We want to belong, to be good neighbors, to call the white man who enters our place of worship our brother. Instead he turned out to be our executioner.

If Muslims “want to belong, to be good neighbors,” then why have so many of them, in so many lands, proven to be so murderous toward non-Muslims? Why have Muslims run down random pedestrians in Nice and Barcelona, who were “neighbors” of the attackers? Muslim killers have been murdering helpless Jews in France, from small children in Toulouse to elderly women in Paris. Those two elderly women, Sara Halimi and Mireille Knoll, were murdered by Muslim “neighbors” whom they had long befriended. Why did Muslims shoot down visitors at the Bataclan nightclub, or diners at a Cambodian restaurant in Paris? Why have so many Muslims been found to have joined  grooming gangs in the U.K., targeting thousands of very young English girls for sexual exploitation, passing them around like so much candy? Why are there now  many Muslim-dominated No-Go zones within Europe, where Muslims do not want to “belong” but to rule, and to expel their non-Muslim neighbors? If they “want to be good neighbors,” why do they attack so many of their non-Muslim neighbors, that those neighbors are afraid to walk outside, and many find themselves compelled to leave for safety’s sake?

Look at the places where major terrorist attacks by Muslims have taken place in Europe: Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Magnanville, St. Etienne du Rouvray, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Manchester, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Wurzburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Turku, St. Petersburg, Munich, Beslan. Did the  Muslims who carried out these attacks “just want to belong, to be good neighbors, to call the white man who enters [their] place of worship our brother”? Or did they have something else in mind in terrorizing the Infidels?

And major Muslim attacks have taken place here at home, too, in: New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Little Rock, Chattanooga, Orlando. Did the Muslims responsible “just want to belong, to be good neighbors”?

Are we allowed to discuss the significance of these attacks, or must we keep from considering it lest we be denounced as “islamophobes”?

Over the past 1,400 years, have Muslims shown they wanted “to be good neighbors” as they conquered land after land, subjugating non-Muslims of every kind? They offered these new “neighbors” only three options: conversion to Islam, death, or the permanent status of dhimmi, which required them to comply with many onerous conditions, including, most notably, the payment of the Jizyah, an often financially crippling tax. Did Muslims  show they wanted “to be good neighbors” when their armies, according to the Indian historian K. S. Lal, killed between 70 and 80 million Hindus during several centuries of Muslim rule? Do Muslims want to “be good neighbors” out of a genuine desire for friendship, or is it in order to solidify the position of Muslims in non-Muslim societies? Are Muslims not told in the Qur’an that they are the “best of peoples” (3:110) and non-Muslims are described as “the most vile of created beings” (98:6)? Surely they can’t ignore those Qur’anic verses, nor that verse which instructs them “not to take Jews and Christians as friends, for they are friends only with each other” (5:51). And what is the basis of friendliness of Muslims toward unwary Infidels, if not an attempt to protect and promote the faith? Real friendship with Jews and Christians is impossible, according to the Qur’an. But false friendship that furthers Islam may be encouraged. The primary Quranic verse sanctioning deception with respect to non-Muslims states: “Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah – unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.” (Quran 3:28; see also 2:173; 2:185; 4:29; 22:78; 40:28.)

Al-Tabari’s (838-923 AD) Tafsir, or Quranic exegesis, is essentially a standard reference in the entire Muslim world. Regarding 3:28, he wrote: “If you [Muslims] are under their [infidels’] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them, with your tongue, while harbouring inner animosity for them… Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believers – except when infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them act friendly towards them.”

Regarding 3:28, the Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373) wrote: “Whoever at any time or place fears their [infidels’] evil, may protect himself through outward show.”

As proof of this, he quotes Muhammad’s companions. Abu Darda said: “Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them.”

What does Omer Aziz think of all that? Let’s make the question simpler. What does Omer Aziz think about Abu Darda’s advice to Believers: “Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them”?

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