In an interview with Anadolu, Islamophobia expert Professor Salman Sayyid discusses collapse of neoliberal order, possibility of better world through anti-Israeli protests.
The Palestinian resistance to the attempted genocide in Gaza opens up the possibility of a new vision of a better world. A vision that was lost in Bosnia and was not revived when the Rohingya were driven out of Myanmar, during the Chechens’ movement, and in so many other cases, such as with the Uyghurs or the Kashmiris, said Professor Salman Sayyid, Islamophobia expert from Leeds University.
In an interview with Anadolu’s Strategic Analysis Department, Sayyid spoke about the collapse of the neoliberal order and the possibility of a better world through anti-Israeli protests.
Q: What do worldwide rallies mean for Palestinians protesting Israeli violence? Because we see many people across the world attending these rallies and standing in solidarity with Palestine. Why do people who have nothing to do with Palestine or Islam, such as some Jewish communities, atheists, or people of color in the West, rally for Palestine?
Sayyid: I think it’s important to see not just in Western countries, you see rallies all over the world. Millions of people have joined demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian people. Many governments in Latin America or non-Muslim Africa have censured Tel Aviv; for example, the South African government has been a consistent critic of Tel Aviv, because it sees apartheid that it fought in South Africa being reenacted on Palestinians. And in that way, for many people, the Palestine suffering and the attacks on the Palestinians remind them and resonate with their own experience of colonialism, racism, or their own experience of repression and their own experience of the possibility of cruelty towards them, as many governments refuse to acknowledge their humanity.
So, I think it’s a revolt against the dehumanization of the neoliberal order, and you will see when you go to these marches, there are many Jewish protesters. There are many Muslim protesters. There are many atheist protesters. And what brings them together isn’t just one thing; it’s a family of different things. But they see in Gaza something that affects us all.
Q: Why is it so easy to commit such crimes against humanity in the current neoliberal world order? Why does the world lack certain mechanisms to stop these massacres from happening or to punish people responsible for those war crimes not decades later but by the time those crimes are committed?
Sayyid: One could argue that because the Bosnian genocide was allowed to happen, then it became easier to do the Rohingya genocide. The Rohingya genocide is quite important because it was carried out by Myanmar, which is a very weak country… much weaker than many Muslim countries. But the failure of Muslims or others to do even something about that genocide, it means that you have lowered the threshold of the level of violence that you can commit against “Muslimness” around the world.
I mean, this is a zombie neoliberal order that nobody believes in anymore, nobody actually thinks about it, but they will still carry on eating our brains and hearts because that’s all they know how to do. And right now, in the world today, there is a need for a new vision and there is no new vision coming.
Q: In the current neoliberal world order, do you see a new vision for a better world?
Sayyid: The resistance to the attempted genocide in Gaza opens up the possibility of a new vision of a better world. A vision that was lost in Bosnia, that wasn’t taken up in Rohingya, wasn’t taken up with the Chechens, wasn’t taken up in so many different cases, for example, with the Uyghurs or the Kashmiris. It’s really important to remember, but in many places in Islamistan, it is impossible to have these rallies as well. For example, you couldn’t have a real rally if you wanted to in Riyadh. I mean you can watch Shakira in concert, but you can’t have a people’s rally for Palestine.
However, in other Muslim countries, there have been massive rallies. However many governments have tried to restrict such popular protests because they realize that the only thing that can topple them is people’s power. So, they’re afraid of the people gathering and recognizing their power.
Q: Where do you see the solution?
Sayyid: The solution is; that part of the job of organizations like yours is to enlighten and educate the people in political struggle because solutions do not just happen. It requires work. It requires knowledge. It requires looking at the possibilities of boycotts, winning the contest of ideas for example.
Boycotts have had an effect. They will work, but they’re not the only thing. The reason why you have to resort to boycotts is because that is the only thing you can control. Because you cannot force your governments to take more rigorous action directly.
People, either don’t have the intention or they don’t have the capability or the knowledge. So, part of the process of the struggles is to be engaged in consciousness-raising and educating ourselves about the possibilities of a better world. Learning, how to do this by looking at the examples of others. How many Muslim people know the struggle… for example, of people like Malcolm X, the struggle of the Algerians, or the anti-colonial struggle, of Imam Shamil, all of these things are lost to us. Because in our educational system, we’re not taught them… so all of that reservoir of resistance is lost. So, part of the work must be to educate ourselves, to hope, to think that you can change things and you have a duty to change things.
Q: In your opinion, what would constitute the main pillars of such an education?
Sayyid: I suggest the decolonization of ourselves. I suggest the decolonization of knowledge. I suggest that decolonization has to be deeper than we are allowing it to be. Through the decolonization, confidence will grow.
So, for example, nearly every single military in the members of the OIC, with one or two exceptions, is completely constructed with the logic of the Western militaries. At the same time, their actual institutional memory is colonial. They won their honors by killing and repressing other Muslims most of the time, and that’s what they’ve been doing in Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
When you are confronting problems, if you don’t have that critical knowledge or that criticality built-in, you will try and resolve problems depending on the books and Western and technical manuals that tell you how to resolve problems. Such reliance will not help; it will simply ensnare you in the world as it is, with all its cruelties and injustices, rather than give you tools to build a better world. We need to decolonize so that we have the tools to build a better future.
So, the real issue is this; can we allow a Muslim political identity to emerge which is transnational, which is future orientated, and which is confident enough to forge its own path? Without that, we are like passengers on the Titanic moving the chairs, someone may be in a good chair and someone be in a bad chair, but the ship will sink and we will all sink with it.
Source : AA