Coercing confessions: Islamophobia and the demand for Muslim loyalty

One of Western society’s fundamental ethical rituals is the act of inducing confessions. We are commonly told that upon our confession we have liberated ourselves from carrying the burden of our heavy sins. We are more honest, more likely to change, we are taking a step to our necessary redemption.

Confession, we are told, purges us of the parasite of secrecy that gnaws at our conscience. It was Michel Foucault who suggested that our “incitement to speak the truth” relies on our assumption of freeing what remains concealed within, and thus he famously claims that Western man “has become a confessing animal”…

In our act of confessing, Foucault argues we take an active role in our own surveillance and become at once the governor and the governed, the observer and the observed….

We become through our confession an object of judgement. It becomes all the more a hierarchy of judge and suspect when that relationship between confessor and forgiver is a racial one. We have seen in the past few days the #muslimapologies campaign where Muslims through their tweets mock the idea that they have to apologize for terrorism by affirming their contributions to history – as one tweet suggested, “sorry for inventing algebra.”

This reflects how many Muslims feel an unfair pressure for them to speak only after saying “sorry” for crimes they have neither committed nor supported…

The demand conceals what resides in its belly: “hidden” in the invitation for Muslims to demonstrate their bona fides as Australians is the Islamophobic caricature of Muslims as a threat. The act of requiring us to confess our loyalty, in the midst of current fear, only reaffirms the anatomy of the racial Other who is imagined much like, well, a Trojan horse: the benign multicultural ethnic who is concealing a violent streak. If we do not turn ourselves inside-out, the logic goes, we ought to remain citizens only provisionally – only ever in quotation mark, as “Australians.”

What is it, exactly, that I am expected to confess? That I, as a Muslim, am I opposed to the colonial tectonic plates have that formed modern geopolitical realities, or the vast inequalities between northern and southern hemispheres, or the secular constructions of fundamentalist religions, or the persistent failures of foreign policy, or the oil, the wealth, the weaponry, Saddam, Assad, or the war on terror – all of which conspired to shape Islamic State?…

Islamophobia, I would argue, is not primarily an instance of hostility directed against a Muslim qua Muslim. It is better understood as the continual debate about Muslims’ innocence (or otherwise) by means of constant surveillance of their presence in Australia. It is marked by a demand they confess what resides within their thinking…

Certain anti-Western sentiments do, of course, exist within the Muslim community after decades of colonial oppression, political instability and divergent religious interpretations. But I have often wondered the extent to which the perennial debates over the place Muslims in the West – which is so insulting, which constantly questions our basic humanity, which is steeped in the language of surveillance – have elicited from “within” our youth these more aggressive expressions of anti-Western defiance…

Yassir Morsi is a Researcher at the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding at the University of South Australia. Morsi has a PhD in liberal theory and has a background in Western political thought. He was a former president of Victoria’s Muslim student association.

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Yes, indeed Western man is a confessing animal.  It is called a “guilt culture” as opposed to the frankly obnoxious “shame-honour” culture that dominates the the Arab Middle East.   The shame-honour culture permits things like the Rotherham rape gangs and I would strongly suggest we do not bring in immigrants from such places.

See these two post (and follow the links) that were recently put up about Rotherham and shame-honour societies:

A nice place to raise your kids

Rotherham: The search for answers

Notice also how the author starts shifting blame off Islam and onto things like “colonial oppression” and “the vast inequalities between northern and southern hemispheres”

He is perfect example of what we do not want in our society: people defending their wretched violent cult and blaming us.