Muslim worshippers outside Temple Mount. Sometimes, they insist on being treated like small children
Ben-Dror Yemini

Muslim self-racism: The ‘low expectations syndrome’

Op-ed: Why do Muslims insist on being inferior? Why are they refusing to see themselves as equals? They’re allowed to call for the destruction of others, publish anti-Semitic cartoons and attach electronic bracelets to every Mecca pilgrim, but when others do so, it’s ‘an offense to Muslim honor.’

There’s a problem with Muslims. They’re human beings. They’re equal. But sometimes, they insist on being treated like small children. Last time, it was the dispute over the call of the muezzin. Not that the “muezzin bill” was so smart, but it’s a fact that similar restrictions exist in Muslim countries too, and in Saudi Arabia there’s even a fatwa against excessive noise. Nevertheless, they used the motif of “an offense to our honor.”



When the person seen as their most important religious leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, called on Muslims to finish Hitler’s job, there were no protests in the West. And when anti-Semitic cartoons are regularly published in newspapers in the Muslim world, there are no angry reactions from Jews. Muslims haven’t been pelted with stones. We haven’t heard about “an offense to our honor.” But when the Muhammad cartoons were published in Denmark, they sparked a series of bloody protests around the world. Dozens were killed. Consulate buildings were set on fire. After all, there was “an offense to their honor.”


Muslim worshippers hold mass prayer outside Lions' Gate in protest of Temple Mount crisis (Photo: Reuters)
Muslim worshippers hold mass prayer outside Lions' Gate in protest of Temple Mount crisis (Photo: Reuters)


Now it’s about the metal detectors. It’s true that it’s a terror prevention measure. It’s true they’re the main victims of terror. It’s true the idea to place the metal detectors was raised after three jihadists entered the Temple Mount with weapons. It’s true it could happen again. But that doesn’t matter. The “offense to our honor” motif has reappeared.


In the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, there are similar concerns. There are 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras there. Every movement is recorded. Every suspicion is checked. Moreover, the company in charge of security, G4S, is a British company. One of the security measures is an electronic bracelet attached to each of the millions of pilgrims throughout their entire stay in the kingdom, allowing the authorities to monitor each and every one of them. The Brits control the information. That hasn’t stopped the pilgrimage. It’s possible that instead of metal detectors, Israel should make it clear any measure that is acceptable in the Muslims’ holiest site would be used in their third holiest site as well.


The sad thing is the threats are working. The metal detectors will likely be removed. Because the angry reaction—along with the cooperation between Fatah and Jerusalem’s mufti, Muhammad Hussein, and Hamas’ incitement—is completely irrational. This is because of the occupation? Don’t make them laugh. They’re not peace activists.


In a ceremony aired on Palestinian television, the host, a Fatah member, said: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs is a war of religion and faith.” Hussein, who spoke after him, delivered the famous slanderous verses, that “the resurrection of the dead won’t arrive until you fight the Jews,” with a call to kill Jews. That was in 2012. There were no metal detectors then. But the chorus is the same chorus.


This isn’t about the Muslims. Far from it. But where are the moderate Muslims? The sane ones? Why are they keeping quiet? Why are they allowing this double standard, in which they are treated according to the “low expectations syndrome,” which sets low expectations from certain populations to begin with. After all, this is racism for all intents and purposes.


Only few people speak up. The ones who have had enough of the racism. The ones who treat themselves as equals. They are the ones who have the courage to come out against the self-deception. But there are only few of them. Occasionally, they speak firmly even in the pan-Arab media. Some of them are forced to live in constant fear or with bodyguards.


When these few people turn into a significant movement, it will be wonderful news for the world in general and for Muslims in particular. And no, it has nothing to do with the occupation. It has to do with racism, with Muslims making themselves inferior. And as long as this self-racism continues, so will the inferiority.


Mecca pilgrimage. Some 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras (Photo: AP)
Mecca pilgrimage. Some 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras (Photo: AP)


After the Temple Mount attack, Knesset members from the Joint List and representatives of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee expressed feeble reservations. They’re against violence. How nice of them. But then came the “but,” placing the entire responsibility on Israel. We are against it, they said, but it’s because of the occupation. The part dedicated to the reservations was about one-tenth or one-fifth of the statement, while most of the text was dedicated to a justification of “the legitimate resistance to the occupation,” blah blah blah. In other words, it wasn’t an opportunity to condemn violence. It was another opportunity to say something against Israel.


The reactions of the leaders of the Arab public remind me of the reactions of intellectuals from the “forces of progress”—not all of them, but many of them—following the attack on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. They spoke against violence. And then came the “but,” which was an indictment against the West, against the bombings in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan. In short, it’s the West’s fault. The terrorists had no other option but to respond. The reactions of Noam Chomsky, the idol of the free world’s forces of progress, and Tariq Ramadan, European Muslims’ prominent speaker, belonged to the same department.


Salman Rushdie called these respondents the “But Brigade.” They offer a weak condemnation, to fulfill their obligation, and then immediately present the “but,” followed by a series of justifications.


There seems to be no difference between the reactions to the terror attack in Paris and the reactions to the terror attack at the Temple Mount. It’s a disease shared by many people.


פרסום ראשון: 07.24.17, 23:36
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