Afghan American Response to the Orlando Gay Club Massacre

We the Afghan American Artists and Writers’ Association wholeheartedly condemn both the hateful homophobia that motivated the tragic massacre at the gay night club Pulse in Orlando and the hateful rampant Islamophobia that politicians and the media are perpetuating nationwide. We mourn the loss of and express our deepest solidarity with the largely queer people of color who were the victims and their families. As a marginalized people ourselves, we fully support the rights of LGBTQ communities and other QPOC communities, who have been historically and continue to be subjected to rampant violence at the state and society level.

The implications of the anti-Muslim rhetoric that media pundits and politicians have seized upon are equally dangerous. In the current pre-election political climate, Muslims are already othered as fanatic militants and terrorists whose core beliefs are antithetical to Western democracy, progress, and human rights. The corporate media has effectively created a false binary and antagonism between Islam and the West, feeding racist Colonial stereotypes of Islam that have gained new currency since 9/11.

Muslims have been systematically misrepresented in the mainstream media as innately backwards, misogynist, homophobic, and therefore dangerous and a threat to the societies we live in. Such irresponsible speech continues to instigate a collective panic that will lead to further targeting of us in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in airports. Some politicians have raised the level of hysteria by even suggesting that Muslim Americans be isolated in internment camps. Muslim have been subjected to increasing forms of scrutiny, surveillance, and violence.

The following institutions have been documenting a rise in harassment and hate crimes directed at Muslims. The 2015 YouGov Poll reported that 55% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam.[1] Juan Cole’s independent analysis of FBI statistics for reported hate crimes indicates an 8-fold increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes between 2000 and 2014.[2] According to Engy Abdelkader, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections,” posted for the Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding with regard to the San Bernardino attack and Trump’s announcement of his Muslim Ban: there were approximately 174 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism, including: 12 murders, 29 physical assaults, 50 threats against persons or institutions, 54 acts of vandalism or destruction of property, 8 arsons, and 9 shootings or bombings, among other incidents.[3]

We as Afghan, Muslim, and/or queer Americans have intersectional identities. We come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. We encompass a rainbow of sexualities and genders. We hold a range of diverse viewpoints and beliefs. It is a sad state of affairs to point out the obvious, the 101 in anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-queer doctrine, not to homogenize one particular group. Yet it must be said, because that is precisely the dangerous message that the media is blasting from coast to coast.

We wish everyone a safe and peaceful month of Ramadan and Pride.

To express your support this statement, please sign our petition

[1] https://today.yougov.com/news/2015/03/09/poll-results-islam/

[2] http://www.juancole.com/2016/04/how-americans-hate-8-fold-increase-in-islamophobic-crime-since-2000.html.

[3] http://bridge.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/When-Islamophobia-Turns-Violent.pdf, cited in http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/05/09/donald_trump_and_the_rise_of_anti_muslim_hate_crimes.html

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2 comments

    • For many of us who are not accepted in our Afghan/Muslim communities, one of the only ways that we can even speak about our existence is to use an umbrella term like ‘queer,’ one that surpasses essentializing terms like “gay” or “lesbian.” I know and understand the dark history of the term ‘queer.’ And I don’t want to use it to label others who are uncomfortable with using it. It is a self-selected term that some of us choose to describe our existence. Many of us, like myself, have to hide who we are from our parents and our families. Please respect our choice to use this term for our own safety.

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