An open letter to my embattled Muslim professional colleagues in Britain

Dear Friends

I am hearing from friends and colleagues in Britain that they are suffering the relentless strain of engaging in anti-racism and scholarly activities in fighting bigotry towards Muslims. It seems that the situation in Britain is certainly quite severe.

It is totally understandable that so many academics, activists and politically-engaged people feel a sense of fear and persecution at the hands of the state, even to the extent that they feel they’re under surveillance, or that their activities are monitored. Presume that you are, for the chances are that every aspect of your data sharing and information gathering in digital form is entirely monitored, recorded and stored for later purposes, and as deemed fit by the state.

When I am in Britain, I feel the extent of stress and even paranoia that begins to engulf my own thoughts on these issues. I feel that there is a great deal of pressure on scholars and writers to say it like it is, for they will never know who exactly is monitoring or listening to them.

I feel somewhat safer being here in Turkey, a considerable distance from a great deal of the fuss that focuses your attention directly given where you are geographically. But I also think there is a psychological issue here too. Part of the reason that we feel the pressure is that we have to contend with the activities of far right groups, of dubious politicians, of half-witted journalists. The pressure is severe, and it continues to grow.

Our conscious does not allow us to stand aside, and let this happen. It is because there is a greater good at stake, and most of us know what the truth is, something that is observable, testable, and generalisable in relation to the problems, rather than some notion of a spiritual absolutism, which may or may not figure into our imaginations.

I urge you all to stand fast; there are simply no alternatives. Backing off is not an option. It is not much better anywhere else either.

Look at the situation in the USA; a police state, surveillance is the norm, neoconservative academics embedded in institutions who speak directly to government, and media that is hostile towards minorities and Muslims on a systematic basis.

Here in Turkey, we have an authoritarian majoritarian patriarchal nation state that has a very short-term memory about its past, and a somewhat of warped sense of its future. There is some benefit to being here in that the great majority of Turks are so wrapped up in their own difficult lives. It allows the rest of us foreigners to freely engage with the work that we need to do.

As I get older, I get grumpier, and less patient, but I am no less inclined to want to pursue the agenda that I have done for the better part of my adult professional life, which is to fight injustice, to promote equality, to engage communities in dialogue and to build cohesion through a discourse of fairness and tolerance.

People like Mandela, Malcolm X, Ghandi, Che Guevara, and many others, were prepared to die for their causes. The solution to all of this heat on the Muslims is in the hands of the Muslims themselves. There is no alternative to this conclusion

The religion dimension is important, but it is not the only aspect of anything that comes about in the end, for the parameters contain social, cultural, political, ideological and historical issues that shape who we are as a global community of communities and what we all want as a whole.

Brave on warriors of justice.

2 thoughts on “An open letter to my embattled Muslim professional colleagues in Britain

  1. As you say the solution is in the hands of Muslims but plenty of us non Muslims are equally outraged at the treatment of your fellow citizens and will stand with you.

    1. Thank you. We need to forge alliances with all right-minded people, and there are plenty of us out there…

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