China’s Islamophobia: A Refutation of Clash of Civilization

By Abubakar A. Bukar

These are indeed hard times to be a Muslim in most part of the world. Whether living in the West, or East, or the Middle of that East, whether belonging to the Global South or the Global North, the story is the same: persecution, dispossession, demonization and discrimination. This ranges from physical torture to emotional and psychological trauma inflicted via direct and institutional violence. It’s just a couple of days we’re emotionally jerked up when the New York Time’s Nicholas Kristof published in his opinion piece the picture of a starving Yemeni girl as microcosmic to the sufferings of children and women because of that war. Abrar Ibrahim, twelve, was barely bone and skin. The horror sparking off taking a sight would truly require a courageous heart to give that picture a second glance.
Few days earlier, it was AP, BBC, Aljazeera, The Economist and many prominent news outlets inundating us with the state-sponsored oppression of the Uighur Chinese Muslims. According to these accounts, Muslims in their multitude are increasingly being bundled to secret concentration camps – euphemistically called rehabilitation centres. And true to the word, these Muslims are being treated off “mental illness” that Islam is perceived to be by the Chinese authorities. The purgation process being forceful renunciation of shahadah, denunciation of self and the deen, eating pork meat, drinking alcoholics, repeated recitation of the Communist Party manifesto, inter alia. Above all is the separation of families, including kids from their mothers.
A little earlier, the world was outraged with Rohingya’s massacre in Mynmar. The UN bluntly called it ‘genocide’, which resulted not only in the killing of over six thousand people, rapes and arson on their properties, but also into the mass migration of the Myanmar Muslims to the neighbouring Bangladesh. In fact a recent report by the Bangkok-based Fortify Rights, according to The Guardian of UK, pointed out that the crime was carefully preplanned by the Myanmar security officials who, in response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s provocation, armed non-Rohingya civilians to help in the virtual annihilation of a whole people.
All these cases, just a tip of the iceberg, are precipitated by weaponized twin words of ‘fear’ and ‘hate’, – often ignorant hate – of Muslims and Islam, commonly called ‘Islamophobia’. No thanks to terrorist organizations like ISIS. No thanks to non-governmental organizations and politicians feeding on this. No thanks to Western (especially US) foreign policies. And no thanks to scholars who consistently bandy disintegrative theses such as the clash of civilizations.
In The Clash of Civilizations? (1993) and its sequel, for example, Harvard University’s Huntington theorizes that the future world conflicts after the Cold War will be fought along cultural lines as countries in the world are increasingly identifying and aligning with their cultural similar to form major civilizational fronts. The United States needs therefore to be abreast of such alliances in preparation of impending clash of civilizations with particularly Islamic-Confucian front as the major threat to Western ‘interests, values and power’ (p.45). The civilizations that will supplant ideologies as fault lines of future conflict include: Hindu civilization, Asian, Japanese, Islamic, Confucian and a few others. Beside reductive treatment of these cultures as water-tight compartments (a criticism made again and again by Edward Said), Huntington laid significant emphasis on the potential alliance between Chinese and Islamic cultures as civilizational front against Western without hinting how these two (Confucian/Islamic) are similar; what and what reinforce their similarities and whether those are strong enough for merger. While the Chinese government had earlier this year banned Muslim children from attending winter Qur’anic schools or entering any building where such is taught, it is just been broken by The Wall Street Journal that ‘China’s aggressive policing of Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang is being replicated in other parts of the country, particularly in areas with other Muslim communities’. What can one make out of the unfolding circumstances of open hostility resulting in subjugation of one by the other? How can a state (if at all it represents the culture) committed to orchestrating atheistic national outlook forge alliance with another which existence is the ‘theist’ itself?

Bukar wrote in from Kano and can be reached via aabukar555@gmail.com

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