On Wednesday night, the bodies of three young Muslim men were found dead in an Indiana home. The victims were Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Kamel Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Adam Tairab, 17. They were found with multiple bullet wounds in what police reported as an execution-style shooting.
This triple homicide occurred five days ago and news of their murder only surfaced on social media Sunday morning, after it was almost entirely ignored by mainstream media.
This is not new. It’s become clear that Muslim bodies are only newsworthy when they are responsible for a crime and not when they are the victims. Similar to the case of Yusor, Deah and Razan, may Allah have mercy on their souls, the deaths of these young people would have been simply ruled off as a homicide with very little attention, if it were not for their families.
However, there is a startling difference in these two tragedies: The response from the Muslim community. From our supposed Ummah, there has been a deafening silence.
It’s impossible not to notice that this is the exact opposite response that the Chapel Hill Shooting received. It did not take five days for news of their murder to break. Although the victims all shared a religion, in the case of the Indiana shooting, the victims were Black Muslims of the African Diaspora, whereas the Chapel Hill victims were not.
We love to complain about injustices against Muslims, but in our own mosques choose to echo so many oppressive views. We want justice, but only for some of us. We talk about Islamophobia but never anti-Blackness. tweet
We as Muslims are quick to highlight double-standards in media and societies overall portrayal of Muslims, but why are we so reluctant to acknowledge our own selective mourning?
Racism is an ugly reality in many Muslim communities that we consistently choose to ignore. We pray shoulder to shoulder beside the same people who see black skin as bad skin. We allow them into our safe spaces, protest along side them, break our fasts with them and then when we mourn for the loss of Black Muslim lives, we are met with their silence.
Muslims, let’s talk about our racism. Let’s talk about how we are only an Ummah when it applies to non-Black bodies. How we only ever rally for Arab countries, protest for every uprising in Palestine and injustice in the Middle East, but are met with silence when it is Black Muslim bodies that are facing persecution. We stand up for the same ethnic groups that refer to Black bodies as slaves. The same ethnic groups that have a dessert called “Ras El 3abed,” and we do it because regardless of the heavy racism they are still our Muslim brothers and sisters.
But this is enough. This selective mourning, this deciding whose oppression deserves outrage is hindering our ability to move forward not only as a community but also as human beings. Muslims need to confront their anti-Blackness, especially in times of rampant Islamophobia.
We chose to pick apart their character. Why? Does sinning make you less Muslim? Because if that is the case, racism would make most Muslims I know barely Muslim. tweet
I moved to Toronto after university, and the first Muslim I ran into was my cab driver. He was Egyptian and when he found out I was away from my family and living on my own, he chose to give me advice. “You’re like my daughter,” he said, “I’ll give you the same advice I give her.”
His advice was that if I wanted to be safe in Toronto, I needed to stay away from Black people. He said this to me, a Black Muslim woman. He said this casually, in a way where I knew he believed it with all of his being. And when I told him that was racist, his response was that it’s not racism if it’s not true.
Can we pretend for a quick moment that he was white, and had said this about Muslims? That’s actually not that hard to imagine considering the current political climate. Politicians are comfortably spreading an anti-Islamic rhetoric that leads to hate crimes like Chapel Hill and possibly the death of Mohamedtaha, Adam, and Muhannad.
We love to complain about injustices against Muslims, but in our own mosques choose to echo so many oppressive views. We want justice, but only for some of us. We talk about Islamophobia but never anti-Blackness.
Where were non-Black Muslims at #BlackLivesMatter protests? As if the original Muslims in the United States were not Black. As if the original Arabs were not Black. We expect allies but oppress other groups for our own liberation. We erase Black Muslims because they do not fit into our narrative of what a Muslim looks like.
I can’t help but ask, what would my own community do if my 7-year-old brother was murdered? Would he be afforded the privilege of his death being investigated as a hate crime? Or would his Muslim identity be erased and he labeled another Black thug? Would it matter that he kissed my mother every night before he went to bed and prayed every Isha at the mosque with my dad every night?
If you are not as outraged at the deaths of these three young men as you were with the deaths of the Chapel Hill victims, you are what’s wrong with the Muslim Ummah. tweet
In so many of the conversations Muslims had following the news of the Indiana shooting, questions that arose surrounded gang-violence and drugs. Were these boys in gangs? Were they drinking that night?
And although police ruled that these boys were not involved in gang activity and that none of the boys were drinking the problem is that rather than simply mourning the loss of three young men with beautiful hearts and bright futures, we chose to pick apart their character. Why? Does sinning make you less Muslim? Because if that is the case, racism would make most Muslims I know barely Muslim.
I will not sugarcoat this: If you are not as outraged at the deaths of these three young men as you were with the deaths of the Chapel Hill victims, you are what’s wrong with the Muslim Ummah.
Believe me when I say, Islam is not for people like you. I won’t share my religion with people who actively seek to erase my narrative. I would rather fight for my own liberation alongside those who share my heart, rather than those who pretend to pray to the same God while living their lives in a way that insults the teachings of Islam.
Written by Eman Idil.