Was there one most dreaded battle cry
For many Muslims, “Allahu Akbar” is a very everyday call to God. But the fact that it is also used as a battle cry against religious minorities in certain contexts cannot be ignored, says Cem Bozdoğan.
I grew up with the fact that the Islamic call “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is great”, is malicious and fundamentalist. The Sivas massacre of July 2, 1993, almost exactly 27 years ago, was formative for me: a pack of 15,000 people set the Madımak Hotel in the central Anatolian city of Sivas on fire. There were 33 Alevi artists and intellectuals after a concert in honor of the Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal.
I am also Alevi, a religious minority living mainly in today's Turkey. Because of such mass murders, my religion also became a political existence for me - mainly because in the past 100 years alone there have been a dozen such massacres that Alevis wanted to extinguish. While my people were burning in the Madimak Hotel, their killers shouted "Allahu Akbar" outside in the presence of the police and the press. The hotel on fire and the screaming mob, all of this had a negative impact on my relationship to this call to God. Every year on July 2nd I remember these 33 people. Rest in power.
At the same time, I grew up with racism in Germany, which shows up structurally and on a daily basis. In June last year, a group of young men was violently stopped in Cologne Central Station, fixed on the floor and exposed in front of a number of people. According to media reports, the men wore “suspicious robes”. This time the “Allahu Akbar” shouters are not the perpetrators, but victims of racist violence. What the men wore was anything but "suspicious", but festive, traditional clothing. Their calls were not meant to be fundamentalist or malicious. Because on this day one of the highest Muslim holidays, the end of the fasting month Ramadan, was celebrated.
Events like this show us how important days like July 1st are, the day of action against anti-Muslim racism. This has its origin in the violent murder of the Egyptian pharmacist Marwa El-Sherbini in Dresden. She was racially insulted by a man because of her headscarf. The then 31-year-old testified against him as a witness in court, after which he stabbed her 18 times in the courtroom. I also remember her every year. Rest in power.
Of changes in perspective ...
As an Alevi and Muslim read man in Germany, July 1st and 2nd have a special impact on me. The Sivas massacre reminds me of the cruel deeds of an Islamic fundamentalist social group whose ideology is widely supported in Turkey. The murder of Marwa El-Sherbini, in turn, is a result of the racist violence against Muslims themselves. These two clashing days show that the balance of power can change: Sunni Muslims, in most Muslim countries actually a religious majority, can do so in a completely different one Context also slip into the affected person's perspective.
And yet I feel uncomfortable every time I hear this call. For example, when the riots in Stuttgart at the end of June picture-Newspaper did not shy away from opinion-making and opened up: "Rioters shout 'Allahu Akbar" ". That the said "rioters" from Stuttgart were not Islamist fundamentalists, but a few young people wrote picture of course not in the article.
Muslims on social networks reacted angrily and sometimes ridiculed the article, for example by ironically invoking the Islamization dreaded by the right. But what keeps coming up in such discussions is the argument that “Allahu Akbar” would simply be an Arabic translation of the everyday “Grüß Gott”.
Even if I get the reactions to the picture-I can understand agitation, I find it presumptuous to want to explain this call to me as a mere "Grüß Gott" or to say that it is being misused by the wrong people. There is something intrusive when a Muslim majority society tries to explain to a religious minority that their fear is unfounded.
The pack in Sivas didn't just greet a god. They were also not “the wrong ones” who “took over” this reputation, but rather represent a not insignificant social group - which also exists outside of Turkey. Just a few days ago, “Allahu Akbar” rang through the streets in Vienna when gray wolves attacked an autonomous center. Again and again it is said among anti-racists: those affected must be listened to. Anyone who has relatives or even witnessed how religious minorities with this reputation are publicly burned or beheaded would understand that the reputation is retraumatising for these people.
... and generalizations
However, the instrumentalization of these cases, which are subject to anti-Muslim racism, is not valid white Makes people socially acceptable. In response to the debate about the call to God, the digs World on sunday one of her notorious secular ex-Muslims, who is then allowed to explain to a right-wing conservative audience in her column how bad her memory of the Islamic reputation "Allahu Akbar" is in her country of origin.
Such generalized views of (ex-) Muslims from other countries with often fundamentalist regimes make life difficult for people who read Muslims in Germany. Because they serve a racist and Islamophobic narrative, that of one White-German society is celebrated. They don't care about the trauma of religious minorities, but instrumentalize them for their own political agenda - mainly against the Islam of their countries of origin.
But which perspective wins? Can I freely say that I feel uncomfortable with this reputation without having to be disaffected and accused of anti-Muslim racism? I know that it is the wrong way to put the call "Allahu Akbar" under general suspicion or to connote it as a battle cry. But what if, in my association, it is also a call with which people were killed? Do I have to feel bad about that?
Ultimately, the context decides. I associate the call to God with the Sivas massacre or the genocide of the Ezidis by the so-called “Islamic State”. I am thinking of the riot of the right-wing extremist Turkish gray wolves in the capitals of Europe. But I am also thinking of the Islamophobic police violence in Cologne. During the Iranian presidential election in 2009, also known as the “Green Revolution”, opposition members gathered on the roofs of Tehran and shouted “Allahu Akbar” to protest against the Islamic government's electoral fraud. I am thinking of that too.
In my world, “Allahu Akbar” is everything but not a religious reputation. For all the following generation in the post-migrant industrial nations of this world, I wish that they can put aside their political trauma. That "Allahu Akbar" is used for what millions of people, whether Muslim or Christian, use it for in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa: To say that God is greatest.
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