Guardian

CiF contributor Mona Eltahawy and ‘Islamophobia’


This essay was written by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, and originally published at the Jerusalem Post

Addressing Congress just a few days after the devastating terrorist attacks on 9/11, President George W. Bush repeatedly emphasized the need to distinguish between the peaceful teachings of Islam and the fanaticism of those “who commit evil in the name of Allah.”

The terrorists who had struck on 9/11, were, Bush asserted, “traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.”

Even Bush’s most vitriolic critics would echo this view for years. Writing in the Washington Post in July 2007, John L. Esposito, Founding Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding – which in 2005 was renamed The HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding – insisted: “In our post-9/11 world, the ability to distinguish between Islam itself and Muslim extremism will be critical.”

But soon enough, this was no longer good enough. With a new administration in Washington trying to distance itself from Bush’s “war on terror” at least rhetorically, there were determined efforts to avoid any reference to Islam

By now, however, it seems clear that this avoidance strategy hasn’t been helpful in any way.

In a scathing essay peppered with lots of sarcasm, Walter Russell Mead recently commented on the “War That Nobody Wants,” arguing:

“But roads paved with good intentions don’t always take you where you want to go, and denial does not look like an effective or sustainable strategy in the current state of what is and remains a multi-theater war against a set of armed religious fanatics and bigoted zealots with a crazed world view and the capacity to make a lot of trouble in a lot of places at the same time. […]

If you want to stoke Islamophobia, don’t level with the people about the nature of the problems we face. […] sometimes truth needs to be told. […] We are fighting a battle first to contain and then to defeat a vicious ideology of murder and hate that masks itself as religious zeal. We are fighting this war both at home and abroad, and there is not an inhabited continent anywhere on Planet Earth where this threat is not a serious concern. All Muslims are not our enemies — far from it, and many of our most important allies and associates are decent, pious, enlightened Muslims who loathe the hate-spewing murderers as much as anybody else — but all of our enemies claim to be fighting in the name of Islam.”

Unfortunately it seems that Mead’s common sense arguments won’t be welcomed by those who prefer to complain loudly about “Islamophobia” while they themselves dismiss the distinction between Muslims and violent extremists who justify savage acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. 

As the recent controversy about ads in several US cities that denounce violent jihad as “savage” illustrates, we apparently live in a time when it is “anti-Muslim” to feel it is “savage” that self-described jihadists would consider videos of beheadings “very, very important” tools for recruiting volunteers to their ranks. And apparently, it’s also beyond the pale to recoil at the savagery of Muslim fanatics who proudly announce that they will keep trying to kill a fourteen-year old girl that they already injured grievously to silence her demands for education, respect and dignity.

The prominent Egyptian-American writer Mona Eltahawy, who is widely considered a liberal activist, has done much to publicize the controversy about the ads denouncing violent jihad as “savage.” As I have documented, she responded to the ads by declaring herself a “proud savage;” she then proceeded to deface one of the ads and, in the aftermath of being arrested and charged with misdemeanor and criminal mischief, she started a very successful publicity campaign to style herself as a latter-day heroine of the Civil Rights movement – while boasting at the same time that she and her supporters succeeded in getting the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to announce revised advertising guidelines.

After all this agitation, Eltahawy has now decided that it was finally time to do what one could have expected from a prominent writer long ago, and she has taken to the pages of the Guardian’s Comment is Free (CiF) website to make her case in writing.

It is quite obviously a weak case. The headline of her post announces “If anti-Muslim ads are protected, so must be my free speech right to protest” – but the text reveals that even Eltahawy is aware that her act of vandalism wasn’t really an exercise of free speech, because she admits: “I broke the law, yes.”

But Eltahawy adds defiantly: “So what? I broke it to make a point of principle. Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, American Muslims are still being bullied and vilified.”

Indeed, Eltahawy tries hard to make the case that there is at least some “coincidental correlation” between the ads that denounce violent jihad as savage and various incidents of anti-Muslim violence and bigotry. Her article opens with a reference to a recent arson attack on the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo:

“Five days after I spray painted over a racist and bigoted advertisement in the New York subway, a man set fire to my brother’s local mosque. He struck just a few hours after the mosque’s kindergarten had been filled with children at Sunday school, including my four nieces and nephews.

It was a coincidental correlation but there was nothing casual about either the hate speech on the walls of the subway […] or the arson in Ohio, which was described as an ‘act of terrorism’ by officials who announced federal hate crime charges against the suspect.”

Leaving aside the fact that Eltahawy of course knows full well that the accused arsonist was reportedly motivated by his anger about recent anti-American violence in the Middle East, it is noteworthy that it apparently wouldn’t occur to her that, due to the fanaticism of violent jihadists, hundreds of thousands of Israeli children live daily under the threat that her nieces and nephews might have faced attending Sunday school in a mosque in Ohio.

One could also recall in this context the terrorist attack on a religious seminary in Jerusalem in spring 2008 that resulted in the killing of eight students and the wounding of 11 others – a result that was cheered and celebrated by Hamas supporters in Gaza.

In the world of Mona Eltahawy, it is “anti-Muslim” to denounce any of this as savage. And in Mona Eltahawy’s world it is also “anti-Muslim” to point out that there is not just a “coincidental” but a very direct “correlation” between the thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians as well as the many brutal terrorist attacks and the ringing endorsements of a divinely ordained genocidal battle against the Jews by leading clerics like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who – according to Eltahawy herself – is “mainstream” and “commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels.”

While Eltahawy would not hesitate to express her loathing of Qaradawi’s views on women in the strongest terms, she apparently takes no offense when Qaradawi tells his “huge audience” of followers that the extermination of Jews by Muslims is divinely ordained – so much so that even the “stones and trees” will do their part by betraying any Jew who might hide behind them.

Whether Eltahawy and her supporters like it or not, the kind of Jew-hating jihad preached by Qaradawi and recently threatened by the Supreme Guide of Egypt’s  Muslim Brotherhood is indeed savage in the context of 21st century civilization.

The claim that it is “anti-Muslim” to say so unfortunately makes sense only if one accepts that Qaradawi’s Jew-hatred is and should be part of mainstream Muslim beliefs. Mona Eltahawy seems to accept that when she rails against the condemnation of jihad as savage and adopts the hashtag #ProudSavage, but fails to even acknowledge the appalling ideology and acts of the violent jihadists of our time. 

Rather bizarrely, she concludes her CiF-article by emphasizing that her nieces – who apparently live in the US – “will not grow up to be scared or apologetic for being Muslim, or Egyptian, or brown.” She also praises the “refusal to be intimidated by bullies” shown by many young Muslims who “were just 10 or 11 when 9/11 happened, and […who] refuse to apologise for something they had nothing to do with.”

Very different from what Eltahawy suggests, nobody who wants to be taken serious will demand that young Muslims apologize for “something they had nothing to do with.” But it is entirely reasonable and justified to expect Muslims – whether younger or older – to understand that demands to ignore the horrors advocated and perpetrated by violent jihadists won’t do much to combat anti-Muslim bigotry.

Mona Eltahawy clearly doesn’t understand that and concludes her article declaring: “The only hashtag I will consider is #ProudSavage.

18 replies »

  1. Well said Petra. Moaner is at it again. Time for a reprise of Duvid’s love song from “Moaner: The Opera.”:

    Paint-Drops Keep Falling on Her Head

    to the tune of “Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head”
    (Hat tip: the late Hal David)

    Paint drops keep falling on her head.
    That’s coz poor Moaner wants the Zionists all dead;
    Paint the subway pink, but
    She’s never gonna stop the truth from shining
    Code Pink whining.
    There’s one thing we know.
    Pink paint won’t defeat us.
    Nor her tweet fuss.
    That savage soon
    Will wear a straight-jacket truss.

    DS Al Coda

  2. Another great article about this issue Petra, and extremely well argued.

    Eltahawy not only “painted over” the ad, she pinkwashed what happened, as has been seen in the videos that were captured of the incident. This is how her article starts:

    “Five days after I spraypainted over a racist and bigoted advertisement in the New York subway,”

    What Eltahawy does not initially admit is that she attempted to paint over the poster, but when Pamela Hall placed herself between the poster and Eltahawy, Eltahawy committed an assault by spraying Hall.

    Deep in her Guardian article, Eltahawy wrote:

    “We seem to have arrived in some crazy Alice in Wonderland world where a woman [i.e., Pamela Hall] is willing to use her body to “defend” hate speech….I deliberately didn’t spray or hit Pamela Hall because I didn’t want my protest to be about assault or violence. ”

    But the crazy woman clearly was Eltahawy, as could be seen in the video, not the calm defender of free speech, Hall, who remained astonishingly cool as Eltahawy showed that jihadis like her are savages as she deliberatelt did spray Hall.

    In fact, “proudsavage” Eltahawy demonstrated the point the poster made. The civilized person was Pamela Hall, and the savage was, as she proudly admits, Eltahawy.

    • After Mona outs herself as an enemy of journalism and free speech she docks in a friendly port. Not surprising. Her spray painting of a political poster was an act of hate speech.

  3. “I support freedom of speech – even Pamela Geller’s right to her Islamophobic subway posters.” – Mona Eltahawy

    But she doesn’t support Pamela Geller’s right to her so-called “Islamophobic” subway posters, she vandalized one, i.e., an inherently violent act.

  4. “Eltahawy said she was held for 22 hours, longer that her detention in Egypt during the Arab Spring.”

    Is this supposed to shame us all, or what? What a joke.

  5. “Prominent Egyptian-American writer and activist Mona Eltahawy has been released from police custody after being arrested in New York on Tuesday for spray painting a subway poster that equates Muslims with ‘savages.'”

    That’s from an earlier Groin article by Amanda Holpuch. Nowhere in that article is the actual text from the ad displayed in its entirety. The Guardian cannot be trusted to report the news unvarnished.

  6. Reblogged this on Living Journey and commented:
    Are you kidding me!!! There are people out there who think like this???? Have a read of this article and just weep. We live in a world where good is called evil, and evil good. I am gob smacked.

  7. Islamic Jihad massacres, as hate crimes en-masse

    Every Islamic terror act, anywhere, is a clear cut case of intolerance. It is always against the “other.”

    True, by Islamic Jihad any infidel targets are fair-game. It’s just that some groups are easier targets than others, as “justification” are aided by propaganda, often backed by some radical liberals in the West. Such are many Muslim aggressors posing as “victims.” For instance, those Arab immigrants’ grandchildren, invaders in Jews’ Israel/Palestine who go by the title “Palestinians,” while some in the West really buy the notion that these mass-murderers (who hide behind civilians, to bring about casualties, to be used as trophies) are just about “Palestine-Arab-State,” ignoring or unaware of their real ethnic cleansing aims from the entire Holy Land.

    Ethno-religious hatred classics:

    Arab supremacy –derived from Koran, Koranic spirit and themes– especially resulting in enslaving Africans and Asians in the Arab world (often having the “inferior” non-Arabs as ‘sex-slaves’ as well) and the genocide in the Sudan (of already 3.5 million, since the 1950s) by a classic combination of Arab racism and Islamic Jihad. The same diabolical combination that “founded” (in the 1920s) the Arab Vs Israel “conflict,” by infamous Mufti who collaborated with the ultimate ‘racists’ – the WW2 Hitler/Nazis. Ever since, the ‘holy war’ against the Jews in the land has always been under the dual slogan of Allah Akbar and Itbach al-Yahud (AKA genocide). Leaving also behind, an inspired legacy of decades (and current) of ugly Nazi style cartoons in the hateful Arab press.

    The Armenian Genocide 1915-23, was both: Turkish ethnic supremacy and an overall holy war against Christians. The same goes to Turkish anti-Greek and anti-Assyrian genocide. Totaling a combined 2.7 million Christian victims.

    Ethno-Religious Moro-Muslims VS Philippines’ natives.

    Ethno-Religious Malay-Muslims VS Thai natives.

    Ethno-Religious Islamic-Hausa-Fulani VS Igbo Christians in Biafra Nigeria – 1960s-70s (3 million dead).
    Current (2011-13) Boko Haram Islamic mass-murder campaign in that country, deepens the Ethno-Religious divide.

    Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Black-Muslim supremacy’s anti-White racism is deeply woven with radical Islamic vision. So were its linked Zebra murders in the 1970s and the Beltway snipers shootings in 2002.

    Ethno-Religious “pure-Muslim” Pakistani VS Bangladeshi (regarded as the impure) genocide – 1971 (3 million dead).

    Ethno-Religious “Palestinian” and Lebanese Muslims VS Christian Natives Maronites in Lebanon. 1970s-2000.

    Iran-Iraq war – 1980s (a million victims – at least). Racism (Arab supremacy vs Aryan-Iranians) and “we are the true Muslims” motivation, on both sides.

    Pakistani Sunnis and Shiites VS Ethno-Religious Ahmadis, resulting in mass violence. So is rampant anti-Ahmadi bigotry among “Palestinian” Arabs.

    Ethno-Religious Muslim-Uighur VS Han native Chinese. Terror attacks (not just against government but against ordinary Chinese too) recorded.

    Ethno-Religious Indonesian Muslims VS Chinese (1999 mass rape and murder) and VS native Catholics in E. Timor (200,000 victims).

    One of the ardent supporters and admirers of Osama bin Laden, who celebrated 9/11 massacre, the pan-Arab, pan-Islamic AEL (Arab European League) founded by Arab Lebanese, former Hezbollah D. A. Jahjah, has been accused of inciting racism and violence in Belgium.

    Ever since the bloody ‘Islamic theme of al-Aqsa’ intifada erupted (2000), Jews in Europe have been even an easier target to Islamic anti-Semitism, physical attacks and attempted ethnic cleansing. Such as by Arab/African Muslims in France; by Turkish/Iranian Muslims in Germany; by Arab-Muslims in the Benelux, Sweden and Norway. The kidnappers and torturers to death of Ilan Halimi to the sound of reciting the Koran (Paris, 2006) –for instance– were inspired by Hamas literature.
    The (2012) Toulouse school massacre by Mohamed Merah of the Islamic hate group ‘Forsane Alizza,’ (NYT reported Jan/23/12, that its site was laced with hate posting, it typically claimed to be “fighting Islamophobia,” and the DailyTelegraph reported Mar/23/12, that in Jan/12, “Forsane Alizza was banned in France for inciting racial hatred,”) made sure to mention those “Palestinians.”
    Likewise, Arabs in Latin America, have been targeting Jews.

    The Pakistani Jihadi Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Pure”) in Mumbai (2008), aided by the ISI (Pakistan Spy Agency) specifically targeted Whites, and even more so the Jews.

    Ethno-Religious Arab-Muslims VS native Coptic-Christians in Egypt, hate crimes still going on…

    Ethno-Religious (mostly separated by origin/ethnicity as well) Shiite VS Sunnis, and vice versa in Iraq (Zarqawi argued that ‘Shia were more dangerous than the “Zionists and Crusaders,”‘ Egyptian Cleric said -Mar/09- “Shiites are worse than Jews,”) and in Pakistan.
    Sunni Vs Alawites, Syria (al-Qaeda cleric’s Fatwa -Jul/12- calls Alawites, “greater infidels than the Christians and Jews”).
    Bloodshed going on, full force.
    A study about 2011 worldwide terror attacks -for example- found 70% of the (over 12,000) killings were perpetrated by Sunni Muslims. That includes: al-Qaeda, Taliban, and others.

    Last point but not least: most “conflicts” and bloodshed around the globe today ARE correlated to Islamism.

    • Islam has had 1400 years of practice at genocide against anyone and anything not muslim or islamic everywere in the world where muslims are found in any numbers

    • “Ethno-Religious Muslim-Uighur VS Han native Chinese. Terror attacks (not just against government but against ordinary Chinese too) recorded.

      Ethno-Religious Indonesian Muslims VS Chinese (1999 mass rape and murder) and VS native Catholics in E. Timor (200,000 victims).”

      So you’re siding with the Chinese govt. I thought, you know, they were bad guys. Like that whole occupation of Tibet thing that Palestine solidarity activists are supposed to focus on instead.

  8. This is where I’m not impressed with the intellectual rigor of J’lem Post (Or cifwatch for that matter): “But it is entirely reasonable and justified to expect Muslims – whether younger or older – to understand that demands to ignore the horrors advocated and perpetrated by violent jihadists won’t do much to combat anti-Muslim bigotry.”

    Let’s try a little shoe-on-other-foot exercise: It is entirely reasonable and justified to expect Jews – young or old – to understand that crying wolf whenever Zionism is called out as racial segregation isn’t going to combat real anti-semitism that is only concerned with hating Jews and does not particularly care about Zionism as such.

    Now, I actually think the above is racist against Jews, because I made a demand on them as an ethnicity. And as much as Zionism is not compatible with a society that rejects racial segregation, it is still unacceptable to make any given Jew answer for it. The use of ‘savage’ on the ad is racist because it creates a distinction between illegitimate violence of jihadists and the legitimate violence of the non-Muslim world that fights the savages, even though the US military has killed many civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan.

    And for good measure, the legitimation of these civilian deaths as ‘collateral damage’ or ‘accidental’ is de-humanizing to the civilians killed. For further good measure, it is nonsensical to draw a parallel between operations in Afghanistan and WWII because Afghans in no way could take part in constructing armaments or a conscript army that might target the US. Targeting of Afghanistan was nothing more than savage brutality and had nothing to do with defense or winning a war.

    Of course, no one here is going to accept that Israel became a Jewish state through terrorism (You know, the same thing we hate violent jihadists for) and mass deportation at gunpoint, so I might as well be talking to a brick.

  9. …because Afghans in no way could take part in constructing armaments or a conscript army that might target the US.

    Yes the al-Quaida cell from Afghanistan targeted Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic just mixed up the coordinates on their GPS.

    Of course, no one here is going to accept that Israel became a Jewish state through terrorism (You know, the same thing we hate violent jihadists for) and mass deportation at gunpoint, so I might as well be talking to a brick.

    Yes as certainly you are used to speak to the wall of the closed ward where you are living, even the bricks would remind you that you are late with your antisemite crap and say that the nurse forgot to give you your pills.