Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 14th 2016 Contents A30
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 14, 2016
From Page A28
exist---and we are
in mourning too'
A strange thing happened a few months ago. I
got a news alert that my photo project, Just Me and
Allah, which documents queer Muslims and their
diverse experiences, had been mentioned in a major
LGBT magazine website.
I didn t recall having done an interview with them,
so I clicked on the article. The piece was about a 17-
year-old Muslim girl in North Dakota allegedly having
had a gun pointed at her head by her father after he
discovered that she was a lesbian.
In the piece, I was cited as proof of the existence
of pro-LGBT Muslims---as if that were an anomaly.
I wondered whether some random LGBT Christian
would ve been mentioned had the story involved an
evangelical father and his daughter.
This pattern of double standards is going to be
repeated on a massive scale in the aftermath of Sun-
day s horrific news---the devastating fact that 29-
year-old named Omar Mateen killed 50 people at an
Orlando gay club.
Although details are still emerging, his father told
NBC News that his son may been motivated by wit-
nessing two men kissing in Miami a couple of months
ago. "This has nothing to do with religion," he told
NBC, adding that the family had been unaware of
There will be no shortage of voices in the media
in the days and weeks ahead analysing the links
between Islam, terrorism and homophobia. Political
candidates will likely use the incident to gain support
for their platforms in the upcoming election.
We are now used to the fact that, every time a
criminally-misguided Muslim commits an act of vio-
lence, the entire religion and all its followers are
questioned and placed under suspicion in a way that
isn t replicated with other faiths. We---and this of
course includes queer Muslims---have to take extra
care walking down the street at night and entering
our mosques for fear of Islamophobic attacks. Muslim
organisations and activist groups are tasked with the
responsibility of releasing public statements, apol-
ogising for the actions of terrorists and reminding
the world that Islam promotes peace so innocent
Muslims who are just trying to go about their daily
lives don t suffer repercussions.
Much has been written about what drives someone
to kill innocent people. Arie Kruglanski, a psychology
professor at the University of Maryland, studied the
final words of suicide bombers and discovered a pat-
tern: their motivation is personal significance and a
search for a meaning that they are brainwashed into
believing can only come with death. This is not the
typical Muslim experience, but an aberration.
Our thoughts must for now be with those in Orlan-
do. But over the next few days, as we try to recover
from this atrocity and begin to piece together what
it all means, it s important to remember that Islam
is exploited by religious extremists all over the world,
often in attacks committed against other Muslims.
One such incident occurred recently in Gulshan-i-
Iqbal in Lahore, Pakistan---a park I used to love visiting
with my family as a kid. Nothing made me feel freer
as an eight-year-old than rushing down the slides
with my younger sister.
More than 70 people, mostly women and children,
were killed by jihadists who claimed to be targeting
those celebrating Easter. However, the majority of
people killed were Muslims---something the terrorists
would have known full well.
Hopefully the Gulshan-i-Iqbal story illustrates that
this can t be boiled down to us vs them. We re all
experiencing the same tragedy together. And I can
tell you first-hand: being a peace-loving Muslim who
omophobic attacks as everyone else isn t out of the
• Written by Samra Habib, the founder of Just
me and Allah: a Queer Muslim Photo Project. Her
writing has appeared in the New York Times,
Globe and Mail and the Advocate.
...most Americans understand it's
about much more than politics, policy
front of a
of a mass
money for the victims; and the countless people in
homes like mine and yours who heard the news and
wept or trembled or prayed or gathered loved ones
close because life is fragile and precious.
The unavoidable political fights that will always
persist in a diverse, pluralistic democracy would be
a bit less angry, bitter, and alienating if the remarkable
depth of what unites us and its heartening mani-
festations were better remembered.
It is fair easier to focus on outrages than on how
much Americans share. (theatlantic.com)
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