Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 48: Silence is Not Golden
-CORNELIUS TACITUS (55-117)
After citing the brutal killing of Bangladeshi law student and blogger Nazimuddin Samad in Dhaka (Part 47: The High Price of Obedience and Hypocrisy), it is only appropriate to recognize a small sliver of good news about a courageous Saudi anchorwoman.
As reported last week in The Jerusalem Post and other news outlets, in a blistering 3-minute address which allegedly interrupted routine programming, anchorwoman Nadine Al-Budair of Rotana Khalijiya Television lashed out against Muslim apologists who claim that terrorists have no connection to Islam, thus washing their hands conveniently with impunity. On Sunday, April 10, 2016, she implored fellow Muslims to acknowledge that "we are the ones who gave birth" to the terrorists who committed recent attacks in Europe" as well as "to stop shedding their conscience and start feeling a collective shame." "Whenever terrorism massacres peaceful civilians, the smart alecks and the hypocrites vie with one another in saying that these people do not represent Islam or the Muslims," she begins, then adding: "Perhaps one of them could tell us who does represent Islam and the Muslims." (The English translation was provided by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.)
Then the unavoidable crescendo: "It is we who blow ourselves up. It is we who blow others up," Nadine Al-Budair charged. "We must admit that they are everywhere, that their nationality is Arab, and that they adhere to the religion of Islam," she asserted.
Al-Budair's bravery certainly needs to be appreciated, considering that in patriarchal Saudi Arabia, a woman's place is traditionally pushed into the background, certainly not in the spotlight to openly criticize the perverted ideology of Wahhabism and Salafi Jihadism. Except for the occasionally lip service, the deafening silence of "moderate" Muslim leaders against the inexplicable hatred nurtured by the Wahhabists and Salafi Jihadists applies not only in Saudi Arabia, but in other Muslim countries as well. The demonstration in Dhaka to urge the Bangladeshi authorities to take the killing seriously one day after Nazimuddin Samad was hacked to death is one thing. Concrete criminal prosecution by the so-called secular Bangladeshi government to charge the killers (also those of previous secular bloggers) is another one.
And there lies the crux of the problem: so far no Muslim governments have been courageous enough to openly condemn the perverted ideology of Wahhabism and Salafi Jihadism, because it's considered "un-Islamic". To the outside world, many Muslim governments tend to project a moderate or secular image to secure political legitimacy and financial aids. Within their borders, to paraphrase Al-Budair, they shed their conscience, and let the extremists persecute the moderates.
"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people," Martin Luther King once said, "but the silence over that by the good people." This maxim was echoed by human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice." The late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015) went further into specifics by declaring that moderate Muslims should "own" the (radicalization) problem. According to Lee, the responsibility to solve this (radicalization) problem lies with the moderate Muslims. "Only the Muslims themselves, those with moderate, more modern approach to life—can fight the fundamentalists for control of the Muslim soul. Muslims must counter the terrorist ideology that is based on a perverted interpretation of Islam." He added that Muslims who refuse to take on this responsibility are "ducking issue and allowing the extremists to hijack not just Islam, but the whole of the Muslim community."
Thus kudos to anchorwoman Nadine Al-Budair for her incomparable bravery to speak out and refusal to be silenced. She exemplifies that which was emphasized by German anti-Nazi theologian, Lutheran pastor, and social activist Martin Niemöller (1892-1984):
"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent; I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."
[To be continued.]
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter