All lives should be equal

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the lives in Or­lando and the lives in Iraq?

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - JARI QUDRAT Jari Qudrat is part of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of Mus­lim Writ­ers of Canada, and an ad­vo­cate of in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights. He can be reached on Twit­ter @Jar­iQu­drat

“The idea that some lives mat­ter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.” – Paul Farmer

The grow­ing bar­bar­ity and in­dis­crim­i­nate vi­o­lence caused by ISIS in the name of reli­gion, and that in the month of Ra­madan, has been truly hor­rific and con­demnable.

First the grue­some at­tack in Or­lando claimed to have al­le­giance with ISIS killing more than 50 at a night club. Then a hor­ren­dous at­tack on Is­tan­bul air­port in Tur­key, fol­lowed by an at­tack in Bangladesh, and now the killing of 150 Mus­lims at a shop­ping cen­tre in Iraq, all rais­ing the death toll of in­no­cent civil­ians to hun­dreds more.

As His Ho­li­ness, Mirza Mas­roor Ah­mad (the fifth caliph and leader of the Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity), a global am­bas­sador of peace stated: “Any­one who preaches or prop­a­gates any form of ex­trem­ism acts com­pletely against the true teach­ings of Is­lam and is to be con­demned.”

But, some­times it is hard to be­lieve that ISIS is against the teach­ings of Is­lam when in Bangladesh for ex­am­ple, they ask civil­ians to re­cite the Holy Qur’an and if un­suc­cess­ful — stab them to death.

Firstly, nowhere in the Qur’an, or any say­ings of the Prophet does it say to kill those that don’t know the Qur’an. In fact, it says the op­po­site: “There shall be no com­pul­sion in reli­gion,” (2:257) and “Whoso­ever killed a person … it is as if he had killed all of mankind.” (5:33)

It’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber ac­cord­ing to the U.S. State Depart­ment, as many as 97 per cent of vic­tims killed by terrorism the past five years have been Mus­lims.

De­spite hi­jack­ing the name of Is­lam, flaunt­ing their flags, and yelling “Al­lahu ak­bar,” ISIS is a po­lit­i­cal move­ment serv­ing nar­row po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive of reli­gion.

ISIS doesn’t care about Mus­lims or Is­lam, they care about greed, po­lit­i­cal power, and cre­at­ing di­vide. Just like the LRA (Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army in Africa) and KKK (Ku Klux Klan) don’t rep­re­sent any faiths, nei­ther does ISIS.

This thus draws our at­ten­tion to hav­ing a united front against ISIS and wholly con­demn­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks. What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the lives in Or­lando and the lives in Iraq? Why are there no hash­tags, no Face­book pro­file tint­ing colours, and no pub­lic out­cries? If our so­cial me­dia pro­files can tint in sup­port of Paris, Bel­gium and Or­lando, then why not change for Tur­key, Bangladesh and Iraq?

In­no­cent lives taken in a Turk­ish air­port, and no vig­ils, or land­marks; but when an at­tack of sim­i­lar de­gree took place in Brus­sels we did all of the above. I’m of­ten asked why Mus­lims don’t speak out enough, but maybe this is some­thing we all need to work on.

I’m say­ing there needs to be con­sis­tency. It is un­eth­i­cal for us to raise our voices dur­ing the at­tacks in Brus­sels, Paris, and Or­lando, but not Tur­key, Bangladesh, and Iraq. Let alone dou­ble stan­dards, this is the def­i­ni­tion of hypocrisy. If some­one was loud dur­ing the Brus­sels at­tacks, and silent dur­ing the al­most iden­ti­cal at­tacks in Tur­key, is it re­ally in­no­cent life that they cared about?

Whether your skin colour is black, brown, or white — blood is al­ways red.

To us all of these at­tacks should mat­ter, and all of these at­tacks should be equally con­demnable.

We can­not progress as a so­ci­ety un­til we re­al­ize that blood is blood and if it’s not your loved one, it’s some­one else’s.

In or­der to stop ISIS and any ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion we need to be against the act of killing, re­gard­less of who is killed. Are we against ris­ing death tolls by ex­trem­ists in Western coun­tries, or are we against ris­ing death tolls by ex­trem­ists?

Un­til we are “Je Suis Hu­man­ity” we aren’t mak­ing progress.

All lives are equal and on the oc­ca­sion of these at­tacks, the world should come to­gether, stand united, and col­lec­tively con­demn them.

In the wise words of Bud­dha: “All be­ings trem­ble be­fore vi­o­lence. All fear death, all love life. See your­self in oth­ers, then whom can you hurt?”


Iraqi se­cu­rity forces and civil­ians gather at the site af­ter a car bomb hit Karada, a busy shop­ping dis­trict in the cen­tre of Bagh­dad, Iraq on July 3.

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