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Adama Munu

Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement

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Date of publication: 6 December, 2016

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While Muslim communities readily quote Malcolm X, much more needs to be done to tackle the racism faced by the Black community, writes Adama Munu
For many Muslims, our cultural, national and racial makeup plays a part of how the world perceives us and how we perceive the world; even whilst our Islamic faith is given to greater negative scrutiny in the mediocrity that is the media.
Islam is seen by the community as a vanguard against racial injustice. I won’t repeat what most of us should already know. And yet, I wonder why there has not been a greater and more visible effort to a movement that with all intent and purpose applies to us, in more ways than one. Are the Black Lives Matter Movement and other such similar protestations important to us?
I put this question to the test by asking some of my Facebook followers online. These were some of the responses I received.
“I think it matters to a section of the Muslim community but not as a whole. Many that are not in support of the movement have also not taken the time to actually look into what is being protested about. Often times, the death of Black men and women isn't given sufficient coverage and support in the Muslim community”.
 "I think many non-black Muslims do not think the #BlackLivesMatter movement matters because quite frankly they do not see the value of black people’s lives compared to “real” Muslims, who many think are Arab and Asian" 
'Not seeing the value of black people' is cutting it fine; but there have been some comparisons made in the reactions towards the fateful and appalling #ChapelHill shootings in the US and subsequent killings of three black Muslim males which received very little attention in the Muslim community, albeit merely through the hashtag  #OurThreeBoys.
Selective outrage is not an option
Whatever the reasons are for this, it must be countered in the same way Malcolm X explicitly opposed the oppression of groups such as the African American community in the 50s and 60’s. “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Most Muslims would accept this statement, not only because it applies to our situation in the East and the West, but because of the man behind the words.
Today, we readily claim the legacies of Malcolm X and the recently deceased Muhammad Ali, but are we just also prepared to claim the struggles of these incredible heroes?  But is it just sufficient to use their legacies as an emblem of Islam's anti racist stance? Our love for their bravery must also extend for a love for their people, a love for those who continue to grapple in the pursuit of true equality.
In the same way that we as a community are outraged about the daily sufferings of Palestinians and the stateless Rohingyans of Burma and Post Arab Spring countries, we must also give great attention and alliance to the sufferings of black communities.
A  holistic understanding of justice as dictated by the religion of Islam is a start, supporting black owned businesses, raising awareness online or offline are other proposals.
Despite facing daily incursions and difficulties in Israel, Palestinians are themselves are fully supportive of ensuring that black communities in the US are given full and equal rights including their safety against questionable law enforcement practices.  Some have put up posts supporting the concept behind the movement. The BLM movement has also come out in full support of the Palestinian cause.
I would hope that we can have the same conversation and fervour within the UK and Europe with greater urgency;  our faith teaches us that selective outrage is not an option.

Munu is a broadcast journalist and is interested in Afro-Arab relations. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Middle East politics at Birkbeck College.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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