ANALYSIS: Prove thy innocence —Shahidur Rashid Talukdar

ANALYSIS: Prove thy innocence —Shahidur Rashid Talukdar

Prove your innocence — if you are a Muslim, because the media and the police believe Muslims are guilty by default.

Terror intimidates Muslims more than anyone else on earth. After any terrorist activity, inside their houses, Muslims try to put fingers into their ears so as not to hear the phrase: “another act of Muslim terror”. Outside, in non-Muslim countries, they avoid eye-contact with others to avoid giving possible explanations that “it need not be an act of Muslim terror” or “I was not a part of it”. For any terror attack anywhere, Muslims everywhere have to hang their heads in shame.

Muslims are the first suspects in almost all cases of violence the world over. The media usually has ‘credible sources’ and bigot analysts to hatch theories against Muslims and the police has ‘informers’ and matrix of terror links with names of Muslim youths inscribed as terrorists-in-line. Thus investigation, forensic analysis and fact finding all have become irrelevant. The new logic of both the media and the police is to blame Muslims first, and investigate later.

Moments after the horrific Norway bomb blast that killed seven people on July 22, followed by the massacre of 85 teenagers, speculations started regarding the possible culprits. Renowned media group, the BBC — considered objective — started speculating on the following night that the Islamist group al Qaeda could be behind the attacks, although the next morning they had to change their tone in front of the evidence. As The Sun labelled the attacks as “Norway’s 9/11”, The Guardian was not behind in their suspicion and analysis of jihadists’ role in the bloody episode. 

The American media’s reaction was not different either. Fox News’ ‘O’Reilly Factor’ not only suspected the Norway killing spree as another incident of Islamic terror, the guest host — Laura Ingraham — even attempted to link it with the atrocious 9/11 that happened in the US a decade ago by reminding the audience about the Ground Zero mosque to be built in Manhattan. No doubt she would succeed in her effort to multiply the right-wing American hatred against the Muslims and Islam. 

Blaming the jihadists, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Norway is targeted for being true to western norms.” Meanwhile, on The Washington Post’s website, Jennifer Rubin wrote, “This is a sobering reminder for those who think it is too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.” Altogether the instant reaction to the incident, without any pursuance of proof or evidence, was that Muslim terror must be responsible for the attack. 

However, within a day the whole story had to be changed, as the right-wing Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, with a background of hating Muslims and liberals, claimed responsibility for the attacks, exposing media bigotry to malign Islam’s image. Once again, it has been proven that not all terrorists are Muslims.

The same thing happens everywhere. Minutes after the Mumbai blasts on July 13, the Indian TV channels propagated the theory that Indian Mujahedeen (IM), deemed to be an Indian Muslim extremist group, could be behind the blast, although security agencies and the police took hours before adopting the hypothesis — solely on the basis of spurious previous trends. Based on their guesswork, the Mumbai police, as usual, detained several Muslims for questioning. One of those detained — Faiz Usmani — died while in police custody on July 17, sparking allegations of police brutality. 

It has been more than a week, yet the investigating agencies have found no evidence to support their claims against the IM nor those detained. The tameness of the media and police administration reflects that — Muslims have been harassed, some Muslims have been detained, and one of them got killed (all without any evidence). So what? Does it really matter? The Muslims are presumed guilty, by the unwritten rule, until proven innocent.

This trend is not new. In the past, although there have been occasions in which Muslim groups have been found linked with terrorist activities, extremist Hindutva terrorists have also been proven to have carried out half a dozen attacks in India, such as bomb blasts in Samjhauta Express, Makkah Masjid, Ajmer Sharif in (2007), and Malegaon (2008) — the list goes on. When the right-wing Hindutva groups are known to have established links with the Indian military and intelligence agencies to carry out terrorist activities, yet raising fingers against them is an anathema. 

The level of hypocrisy in the attitude of the police and the media is conspicuous. If a Muslim commits an act of terror, it is a terror plot but if a non-Muslim does, it is just an ‘act of violence’. If a Muslim is suspected in a terror act, he is an Islamic terrorist while a proven non-Muslim figure behind terror activities is merely ‘an accused’.

If this is how people’s sentiments against Muslims are aroused, how can the 1.5 billion Muslims live in peace with others and what message are we giving to the younger and future generations?

The writer is a PhD student in Economics at Texas Tech University, USA. He blogs at