By Randa Abdel-Fattah
I arrived at the Islamic school I attended early in the morning. I was in year seven. The pig’s head had been thrown through a smashed window in the front office.
Graffiti on the walls: ‘Go back home terrorists.’ It was the first Gulf War.
We told you the threat is white supremacy. You ignored us and said: ‘Prove your loyalty.’
Arab and Muslim Australians spent the 90s proving themselves not-Saddam, not-terrorist, not-barbaric, not-unAustralian, not-enemy alien, not fifth-column.
We scrubbed the name of our Islamic school off the buses. We wiped the spit off our hijabs. We Anglicised our names to get jobs. The highest court of the land declared this land was never terra nullius. The blood stains on this stolen continent could no longer be bleached. Race could not be denied.
We told you the threat is still white supremacy. You ignored us and said: ‘Prove you’re not terrorist.’
The planes crashed into the twin towers. The bombs hit Iraq and Afghanistan. We were divided into moderates and extremists.
We were socially engineered to play the part of the integrated, always-ready to-condemn, apolitical, safe Muslim.
We were told that the price for conditional belonging was the sacrifice of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and every other broken, exploited third-world body and soul that paid the price for the West’s wealth and ‘freedom’.
We were expected to forgive Abu Ghraib, forget Guantanamo Bay, be silent about Gaza.
We were told the borders would be patrolled by whiteness, not the indigenous owners of this land. Our mosques were vandalised, our hijabs ripped off our heads, our leaders seduced into accepting we needed to be spied on, racialised and marked as a suspect community at-risk of ‘radicalisation’ via countering violent extremism programmes.
We told you the threat is still white supremacy. You ignored us and said: ‘Accept Australian values or go back to where you came from.’
The Arab revolutions in your colonial playground were crushed by dictators cashed up and supported by you.
The divided and conquered morphed into the grotesque. Local communities were seduced again into denying race, denying history, forgetting our troubles were playing out on stolen land.
We took responsibility for terrorism and condemned, over and over again. We disciplined and tamed the beards, the hijabs, the niqabs, the Friday prayers in schools, the sermons.
We let academics research our children to find the genetic code for ‘becoming terrorist’. We focused on ‘social cohesion’, ‘community resilience’, ‘Australian values’. We produced public speakers, athletes and diversity liaison officers. We complained about the incendiary media headlines, fascist rallies, race-baiting politicians and commentators. We cleaned up the bacon, always with the bacon.
We told you the threat is still white supremacy. You ignored us and said: ‘Prove you’re not a national security threat.’
We increased security at mosques and schools, avoided going out after terrorist attacks in the West for fear of retaliation, reported abuse, vilification, vandalism, assault, bled tears for the occupied, bombed, raped countries of our family’s homelands.
We wrote opinion pieces and books; tweeted, posted, debated, educated and explained. We didn’t have the luxury of making jokes about Trump’s tweets, or debating how to dialogue with Nazis.
We had to learn to connect the dots between settler-colonialism’s instinct for extermination, state violence against black and brown bodies in custody and at the borders, and pogroms and rallies on the beaches.
We listened to liberals in the media excuse Nazis because ‘democracy’, and reported online calls for violence to no avail. We watched western Muslims, Jews and minorities murdered in the US and Europe and warned you we were scared. We pleaded with you that the white supremacist platform was suffocating us.
You ignored us and said: ‘Free speech, we are not a racist country, don’t be divisive, Judaeo-Christian values, lose the identity politics, Islamophobia doesn’t exist, Islam is not a race, love it or leave it, ban the burqa, ban Muslim immigration, ban Muslim schools, ban halal, ban the boats, we need a final solution, let’s use anti-Muslim sentiment as an election strategy, jihadi watch in schools, refugees are dangerous.’
We told you the threat is white supremacy and you fuelled it, gained from it, enabled and permitted it.
So when white supremacists massacred 49 Muslims during Friday prayers, we Muslims were not shocked, not taken by surprise. We expected this. We knew it was coming.
Because you let it.
Source: The New Arab