Why should Muslims be held morally responsible for Mohamed Merah?
Troy Media – by Adam Walker
It has long been a principle of the Islamic teaching that every Muslim man, woman and child, is obliged to show loyalty to the country he or she lives in.
A practising Muslim is taught by the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad that he must always desire the very best for his country of residence and its citizens.
This teaching is championed by the current head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who, when describing the mainstream Ahmadi interpretation of Islam, stated:
“As citizens of any country, we Ahmadi Muslims, will always show absolute love and loyalty to the State. Every Ahmadi Muslim has a desire for his chosen country to excel and should always endeavour towards this objective. Whenever a country requires its citizens to make sacrifices the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat will always be ready to bear such sacrifices for the sake of the nation.”
“We feel pain and distress when any nation suffers and we share the grief and pain of others. Thus whenever any country faces difficulty we try our utmost to alleviate their suffering. That is what the founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, taught us. It was the Holy Prophet who counselled that you should put your own pain to one side in an effort to alleviate the suffering of all of mankind. It is thus that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat is involved in spreading humility, love and kindness.”
To be loyal does not, however, infer absolute and unequivocal agreement with the decisions of the state. Democracy should inherently provide for a pluralistic space which offers citizens the opportunity to help shape the society they live in through constitutional and democratic means. If not for this space, or the endeavour to create such a space, the constitutional Suffragette movement, the non-violent Afro-American Civil Rights movement, and the U.S. Peace Movement would not have advanced and protected the rights of others as they were able to.
Similar likes and dislikes
It may surprise some, but the likes and dislikes of Muslims, as a cross reference, are reasonably similar to the non-Muslim citizens of any given society. Muslims, for example, hold varying political allegiances, enjoy trying the latest trends in food and fashion, and spend countless hours arguing over which sports teams and stars are better. Some Muslims, out of a sense of loyalty, are even moved to protect their nations by joining the Armed Forces and offering their lives on the battlefield for both kin and country.
Three such individuals should have become household names over the past few days, but alas, their names are seldom mentioned in full, if at all. They were three parachutists from the French Army. On reading this, one might be forgiven for imagining three handsome French soldiers with names like Jean-Pierre or Louis. Rather, the three young soldiers were called Imad Ibn-Ziaten, 30, a paratrooper in the 1st Airborne Transportation Regiment based in Toulouse, Abel Chennouf, 25, who served in the 17th paratrooper combat engineering regiment based in Montauban and Mohamed Legouade, a second paratrooper.
The soldiers were not shot while on active duty, but on the streets of France – the very nation they offered their lives to safeguard. They heralded from a French regiment which has, ironically, lost an equal number of soldiers in active service in Afghanistan over the past year. Nicolas Sarkozy could be seen earlier this week paying homage to the three French soldiers as their coffins were being carried, quite notably, by three soldiers who also appeared to be of North African descent.
It is at such moments in history, particularly in countries such as France which have extremist political right-wing leaders such as Marine La Pen, that the political vultures appear, ready to scavenge the tragedy of others for their own political gain. It is for this reason that you will be hard pushed to again come across the names of those brave French, Muslim, North African, soldiers who readily offered their lives for France: Imad Ibn-Ziaten, Abel Chennouf, and Mohamed Legouade.
Instead, the right-wing Islamphobes, salivating and eyes-wide-open, will happily bring another ”Muhammad” to your attention. Namely, Mohamed Merah, the young French man of ”North African” origin who is alleged to have mercilessly killed seven French citizens over the past week – three of whom were the above mentioned soldiers and a further three innocent French school children.
Predictably, the rhetoric has already started, with La Pen immediately availing herself of this golden opportunity. She is reported to have said:
“The identification of the killer only confirms what I’ve been speaking out against for years – there’s growth of Islamic fundamentalism in our country that the powers-that-be have underestimated,”
“Whole neighbourhoods of the suburbs (of our big cities) have fallen into the clutches of the fundamentalists, weapons are all over the place and foreign funding is pouring in.”
Her comments, coupled with a large section of the media coverage, bring back memories of the sad attitude adopted by Raymond Barre, former Prime Minister of France, who, following the 1980 bombing of a Synagogue in Paris, unashamedly stated on television:
“This despicable terrorist attack was aimed at Jews on their way to synagogue but hit innocent Frenchmen who were passing by.”
What Barre failed to grasp was that the bombing was not aimed at Jews, but French citizens who were Jewish, no different to any other citizen. This incident highlighted the tragic French abandonment of its Jewish citizens.
Similarly, today La Pen and others have failed to understand that their insistence on identifying both the murderer and murdered soldiers as people of North African or Muslim descent is an indication of a wider abandonment of a large minority community in France. A community which is neither North African, nor of any other nationality, but French.
Merah not representative of Muslims
Sad, it is, that many are keen to characterise the French Muslim community as a reflection of Mohamed Merah, someone who appears to be a lone extremist, rather than a reflection of the brave three soldiers, and countless other active servicemen, who readily offer their lives every day to protect France and its citizens.
The current situation is perhaps best summed up by a young French man who knew Mohamed Merah and is quoted by the Washington Post as stating:
“This person doesn’t represent me . . . What worries me is what society will say tomorrow in the bakery shops, at the butchers or at the post office.”
Spoken like a true French man, not a Muslim man of North African descent living in France. And so why should he be held morally responsible for Mohamed Merah just because they share the same ethnicity or religion? Particularly given that Merah has acted in complete contradiction to the teachings of Islam which forbids the killing of the innocent.
As France mourns the loss of seven of its sons, one can only hope and pray that its politicians and electorate react over the coming weeks and months with a measure and courage worthy of democracy.
Furthermore, that death, wherever it is to be found, be it in the case of innocent French children or the thousands of nameless innocent Afghan children, is treated with greater respect, contemplation and dignity, and not as pickings for vultures .