(Washington, D.C., 5/29/2020) — “For persecution is far more grievous than killing …” – The Quran, 2:191. Minneapolis police officers marked Memorial Day by suffocating an utterly subdued black man named George Floyd to death as he pleaded with his last stifled words for the right to breathe.
They snuffed out the light of his life with a knee on his neck, collapsing his trachea. They killed him in broad daylight. They killed him over a slow seven minutes. They killed him while contemptuously mocking the helpless bystanders pleading for mercy, for humanity, for George Floyd’s expiring life. They killed him even after Floyd had died by continuing to kneel on his limp, lifeless body for another two minutes.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), on behalf of our members and American Muslims, utterly condemn this blatant act of murder, and we call for the swift prosecution on 1st degree murder charges of its four perpetrators disguised as public servants in the uniforms and behind the badges of the Minneapolis Police Department. …
… Yet again – after the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamer Rice, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Marcus Golden, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile (the last three all by Minnesota police) – a list that sadly runs on and on.
However, it is to this egregious, legacy of the persecution of African Americans that we in the US Council of Muslim Organizations now particularly call attention with the quote from the Quran that heads this statement: “For persecution is far more grievous than killing,” and in another verse: “In the sight of God … persecution is a far greater sin than killing.”
Make no mistake, killing is the second-most heinous of the cardinal sins in Islam. Yet, we can no longer look away from the underlying socio-political condition that underlies and underwrites this wanton slaughter of innocent African Americans, and especially black American males in our country: white supremacy.
This is part of what American philosopher Charles Mills called in his 1997 book of the same name the “racial contract” – an invisible, unspoken agreement that non-white populations, most egregiously African Americans, do not possess the same human moral worth – and, therefore, do not share in equal political, social, or economic rights and entitlements – as white Americans. As distasteful as the label white supremacy sounds, it is truly the “unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today,” as Mills writes. And he is right.
Until we acknowledge this political reality as a nation and debunk its prejudicial concepts – concepts that belie the teachings of Heavenly religion that (1) all humanity has descended from a single soul, and that (2) decry God’s observable divine wisdom: that He has made us into nations of tribes and peoples – of varied colors and different languages – that we may know one another, not hate one another – we will not be able to bring forth a totally new social contract for all on this soil. For the solution lies not in merely editing the old, failed, illusory one that denies its own reality, as we have been trying to do with our various inadequate civil rights and social initiatives for all this nation’s existence.
We must bring about a new ideal of a livable social contract as a prescription for human justice and peace in our society. In the interim, we at the US Council of Muslim Organizations call for two immediate actions and give our reasons why.
1. City and county councils, and state and federal, representative bodies, should formally affirm in resolutions the sanctity of life (which many now speak of) over and above that of all other earthly inviolabilities, especially that of property.
While we firmly believe in the sanctity of private property – and especially the sanctity of homes, houses of worship, and places of cultural importance – it does not compare nor rise to the level of the sanctity of human life, all human life.
Many upholders of the system of white supremacy are now publicly justifying the follow-up to the egregious Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd by the equally appalling, organized Minneapolis police brutality of the last two nights against unarmed most African American protesters.
They seek to discredit the public protest of this open murder by armed civil servants by the subsequent damage done by some to private property. They would sanction the ad hoc killing of African Americans like George Floyd by police (or those self-appointed “vigilante police,” like the killers of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia) because in the course of a protest against it some people vandalized a corporate outlet.
There can be no compromise of the sanctity of human life and no comparison of human life with inert property.
2. We call on elected and appointed officials to disallow – under all circumstances – police forces under their authority from confronting unarmed protesters who are denouncing police actions of killing an innocent man and calling for due process.
The Minneapolis police shameful action – of coming out in phalanxes in full riot gear, and firing maiming and potentially deadly rubber bullets and chocking teargas into crowds of unarmed protesters, and chasing them down in violence on the pretext of minor causes – is absolutely unacceptable.
The police and officials have no legitimate justification for their own provocative presence and actions. These are spontaneous, grassroots protesters – many but not all African American – expressing their understandable outrage and calling for justice for the open, ruthless murder of a helpless African American man – an all too common occurrence in our society that threatens each and every person perceived as “other.”
This provides an obvious comparison and proof of an underlying invisible racial contract of white supremacy in America. People of political power and wealth have recently privately funded astroturf anti-lockdown protests over coronavirus policy to keep all people safe and strategically placed these in various state capitals. These funded, mostly white protesters appeared in full camouflage military fatigues, armed with assault-weapons, sometimes carrying confederate flags and Nazi symbols. In some cases, they actually rushed and entered capitol buildings, shut down democratic processes, and aggressively pounded on windows and confronted police face to face.
Yet the police somehow remained silent and passive in the face of it all. No riot gear. No rubber bullets. No firing of tear gas canisters. No chasing down protesters. Just acceptance, even protester encouragement from elected officials, including our president.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations and the American Muslim community express our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of George Floyd, and all the bereaved and beloved of the growing number of African Americans killed by law enforcement and vigilantes in our country.
Moreover, we stand with the African American community under their burden of increasingly deadly discrimination and shattering loss – and we do so acknowledging the sanctity of their lives. Your lives do matter, and hold the highest value, every God-given one.
We stand, as well, and offer our prayers and support to all our diverse U.S. communities, including the indigenous American communities, Latino communities, immigrant communities, and our rural communities – each one suffering loss, strain, and human devaluation.
We uphold the sacredness of all life.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations
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