Muslims Should Kill Islamophobia With Kindness

The Quran has many verses that command a courteous response to even a terrible insult to Islam.

By Mustafa Akyol, who is a contributing op ed writer.

Until the night of Jan. 18, Mila Orriols, a 16-year-old lesbian and atheist schoolgirl from southern France, probably did not expect to initiate a national controversy. But that is what happened when she live-streamed herself on Instagram while applying makeup, only to get into a quarrel with a man who, in her words, began “hitting on her heavily.” The online fight soon turned into matters of identity, and at some point the angry Mila said, “the Quran is a religion of hatred,” and used a vile vulgarity to describe Islam.

The very fact that she defined the Quran as “a religion” was a sign that Mila was not in touch with Islamic theology. (The Quran is the holy book of Islam, the religion). Yet still, her comment, which quickly spread on social media, was taken seriously by many French Muslims, some of whom reacted with anger. “I receive 200 messages of hate each minute,” Mila said, before she was put under police protection against death threats and went into hiding.

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Since then, the Mila affair has become a national controversy in France, with numerous media stories, comments from President Emmanuel Macron, Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Countless Twitter posts adopted the hashtag JeSuisMila# (“I am Mila”), evoking #JeSuisCharlie, the motto for supporting the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after Islamist terrorists claiming ties to Al Qaeda in 2015 attacked its office and murdered 12 people.

In other words, the Mila affair has become yet another episode in an oft-repeated pattern: A Westerner mocks or openly demeans Islam, often labeling it as a harsh, intolerant and violent religion. In return, some Muslims have harsh, intolerant or even violent reactions — without realizing that they only seem to confirm the accusation.

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4 replies

  1. There are 2 Groups of Muslim :

    Good Muslim want to kill Islamophobia with LOVE ❤️
    But bad Muslim follow Al Quran teaching: kill and punish Jews, Christians and unbeliever —Refer to Q.9:29, Q2:191.

    Fight / kill those People of the Book who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, 8 and do not take as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared as unlawful, and do not profess the Faith of Truth; (fight them) until they pay jizyah with their own hands while they are subdued. Q. 9:29.

    As long as that verse exist in Holy Quran—killing innocent people never end! Believe me!

  2. Somi you are a broken record. That verse was regarding only those who were already trying to kill the innocent Muslims.

    That was a message of national security, nothing more and nothing less.

    Cannot you celebrate that the moderate and more insightful Muslims are trying to educate the fundamentalists?

    Why do you make the work of peace makers constantly more difficult?

  3. To me it is a matter of scale. Depicting it as an action of “some” is misleading. Barely Instagram top users receive 200 messages a minute. It is a massive scale. Also, it spread as fast as wildfire; she hardly had any fan base minutes earlier. It means that the majority of the Muslim people who got hold of that videos felt compelled to voice their hatred. Hatred, apparently motivated by her mere personal opinion, furthermore a baseless one not certainly coming from a threatening, authoritative figure in the subject. Significantly, it was not random “haters” online doing trolling; Mila’s fellow schoolmates divulged her school and personal details, which means they were reached and aware of the other haters, and could count on their support in doing something hurtful to Mila. It was a level of natural coordination, however unplanned, that takes more the form of real-life lynching than that of online bullying by individual, scattered trolls.
    Normally, if I hear an opinion that I do not like, my first impulse is to prove them wrong and debate. Maybe, if I think a few extra second, I decide that I actually don’t care (not my own ideas after all), and instead go my own way. Whatever, they are just different opinions. Most of the people that I know would do either of those things. Maybe in some extreme circumstance, like after a heated debated, things may get personal between two parties, and then insults arise. However, I certainly doubt that regular disagreement would result in 200 people per minute taking to the personal blog of an close-to-anonymous teenage make-up blogger and litter it with insults and death threats right away, like what happened now.
    While I am sure that many Muslims did not partake in the event, nor condone it, the fact remain that a statistically important fragment of Muslim population (“population” in the statistical sense) was able to transmit hatred quickly and thoroughly across the entire community, so realistically that the victim needed to go in hiding, which, being XXI century France, and being this an alleged “crime of conscience”, it is pretty shocking.
    Hence: What compels thousand of people to react so radically and emotionally? Does it only occur when speaking of religion, or does it happen in other instances? Where and how did this significant share of population pick up this behavior? Is there really an issue in the way perceived crime of conscience are unofficially judged and sentenced by the Muslim community, and is violence, verbal or online, really the first thing that surface in those instances? Do they think there should even be such a response at all when hearing a contrasting, but personal opinion online? Does the Muslim community responds by condemning the violence, but then simply dismissing all of this by saying “you reap what you sow” and that she “asked for it”, as the delegate of CFCM Abdallah Zekri did, or is there an internal debate ongoing?
    I think those are the question we should ask. “Killing Islamophobia With Kindness” is a noble result, and we would all love to see, but questioning the background of this behavior is really what will it take to achieve it. Islamophobia is merely a backlash, not the root cause. The fact that the French authorities instinctively investigated Mila’s video for Islamophobic content proves that France is fully aware of the risks and take it seriously, more so than it is in identifying the source of such online hatred. And while the law cleared her in this regards, she still needs to hide.

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