Politics is a strange beast and one that brings out both the best and worst of people.
I’m a member of quite a few religious pages and groups on Facebook. I have a healthy mix of Muslim hating groups and pages, to Christian hating groups and pages to spend my time scrolling through. I try to cover as much of the religio-socio-political spectrum as I can. There are a lot of things I’ve learned from being in these groups, most of it not useful, but where I have learned useful things I’ll try to make a series of posts discussing them. Today’s post is about Muslims in politics. The best way I can sum the issue is in the following picture:
What I’ve largely learned from my time observing social media, mainstream and alternative (specifically religious or political) media publications, postings and discussions, is that there is no place for Muslims in politics. There seems to be two main ideas about Muslims in politics from non-Muslims.
The first, is that if we do not vote or participate in politics it must mean we’re all extremists who hate all non-Muslims, that we refuse to integrate and that Muslims only belong in a 7th century medieval theocracy. The idea that major parties may alienate Muslims from their platforms, or may have unfavourable views toward local Muslim communities or Muslim majority nations (often foreign policy) and that these are legitimate reasons for not participating in politics either escapes most people who hate Muslims, or they refuse to acknowledge this glaring issue in the first place. Voter turnout has always been an issue in politics, whether it was during the 2016 US Presidential election, during Brexit or during the 2017 UK General election, the fact is that not everyone votes and there is a reason there’s something called a protest vote in the first place. In most democracies I’m aware of, it’s not illegal to not vote, yet Muslims aren’t afforded this right to not vote. In other words, predominantly right-winger’s are quick to criminalize the Muslim choice to abstain from voting, when to do so is to attack the very idea of having the freedom to participate in the political process. Indeed not participating in the political process is participating in the political process, and to attack someone for exercising that choice is to attack the political process itself.
The second, is that if Muslims do participate or take an active role in the political process, it must mean that we’re trying to instill Shari’ah law or laws generally favourable to the Muslim community. That we’re trying to inherently subvert the political process by participating in the political process. Such an opposition to Muslims participating in the political process is to be fundamentally ignorant of the political process in the first place. See, one of the mechanisms through which democracies and republics exercise social change is through the political process. The very purpose of the political process is to allow society to have a say in the way that they are being governed. It might come as a shock to some people, but the idea that communities can rally votes around a platform that is favourable to their communities, is not a Muslim invention. It’s called a political party. Even if that platform has religious ideas behind it, people can vote for it. There’s a reason why abortion is illegal and legal in some countries. There’s a reason why same sex marriage is illegal and legal in some countries. There’s a reason that young earth creationism is taught in some states in the US and outlawed in the others. There’s a reason why sexual education is taught in some states in the US and outlawed in the others. This reason, is that it’s not illegal for voters to have religious motivations for the way that they vote. Yet the way that some people who hate Muslims act, is as if it is illegal for Muslims to vote for candidates, platforms or manifestos that are favourable to their communities. The reality is, that attacking Muslims for their participation in and of the political process, is an attack on the political process itself, the very process that you’re attacking them in the name of.
These two ideas as discussed above, specifically the ironies associated with them can be found in most discussion about Muslims in politics. It seems that whether Muslims vote or not, is not the issue but that they are Muslims in the first place is the issue itself. The mere fact that such xenophobia and bigotry is expressed through political dressings does not preclude the fact that the foundational precept that such ideas are rooted in is bigoted and xenophobic in and of itself. Perhaps though, the greatest irony of all is that the very people who claim to express such bigotry under the guise of defending the sanctity of the political process, are the very people undermining it by attacking the Muslim population who are involved in it, in one way or the other.
and God knows best.