The West has the tendencies of constructing national identities as well as social narratives which overlook and silence the continued subduing of the status of Muslims in the Western society. As a way of letting their views to be known in the Western world, Arab activists usually decide to utilize a spoken word poetry, especially when it comes to confronting racial stereotypes and denouncing Islamophobia rhetoric. Suheir Hammads First Writing Since: is a typical example of a spoken word poetry, which has focused on addressing different issues affecting the Islamic community after terrorist attacks on the United States on 11th September 2001. It can there be contended that the First Writing Since: poem is responding on the Western orientalist perceptions and ideologies directed towards Arabs, Islam and the identity of Muslims.
According to the Suheir Hammad who is the First Writing Since, the Muslims have been suffering silently in the hands of the Western culture that seems to be perpetuating elements of Muslim identity and Islamophobia. Apparently, Islamophobia is considered to be disliking or prejudices labeled against Islamic religion or Muslims. The writer of this poem is concerned that this practice, which has resulted from the insistence of the Western culture as far as creating a Muslim identity is concerned increased primarily in the post 9/11 era. For instance, the stanza five line one, the narrator says that one more person ask me if I knew the hijackers. (Hammad 2). This is an indication that people from the Islamic or Arab race are mainly associated with terrorism. Under this context, by asking the speaker if he knew the hijackers who bombed America.it is being insinuated that all Muslims participated in the whole terrorist process on September 11.
The speaker also reveals that Muslims are blamed for all negative things happening in the Western society as far as insecurity and terrorism are concerned. Islam is perceived to be a religion that promotes terror and lawlessness which has supposedly hampered the global integration. Apparently, it is purported that the tragic events of the 9/11 terror attacks affected only the non-Muslims. This has led to an escalation of animosity between the non-Muslims and Muslims. For example in the Stanza five (line 2-3) the narrator of the poem says: one more motherfucker ask me what navy my brother is in. One more person assumes no Arabs or Muslims were killed (Hammad 2). The narrators use of vulgar language One more motherfucker portrays the straining relationship between the Arabs/Muslims and the Westerners. These assertions also indicate that the Western countries do not consider Muslims as also part of those affected by terrorist attacks.
Individuals advocating for equity and liberty amongst all populations in America are perceived to be the foreign enemies. Apparently. It is assumed that " either you are with us, or with the terrorists (Hammad 2). This statement implies that it is important for a government to keep its people or close allies under control while at the same time censoring those perceived to be against its efforts. This is an indication that those Muslims who are genuinely advocating for social justice, in support of civil liberties are portrayed as sympathizers of terrorist. It can, therefore, be alleged that Islamophobia and Muslim identity is deeply rooted in the Western culture. This has contributed to the rising cases of racial discrimination and frustration of people with Islamic or Arabic origin.
There is also an element of skepticism on the criteria used by the United States when it comes to waging war on the alleged masterminds of terror attacks. The speaker is insinuating that as long as the suspect is linked to Islamic religion or an Islamic nation, he will be vehemently attacked by all US counter-terrorist units. For instance, the narrator is at a loss as to why President George W. Bush attacked Osama Bin Laden yet at some point, CIA was funding him (Hammad 3). Furthermore, the actions of United States in countries such as Taliban was causing more harm than good. For example, there have been petitions aiming at ousting the US-sponsored Taliban government out of power. This is an indication that mistreatments directed towards Islamic countries have led growing animosity between the Muslims and Westerners.
Apparently, there is the need of addressing global terrorism without classifying terrorists by their religion. The Islamophobia practice has led to the victimization of innocent Muslims who do not necessarily support the acts of terrorism. From the narrators point of view, it is revealed that Muslim community was equally devastated with events of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. I cried when I saw those buildings collapse on themselves like a broken heart. him (Hammad 3). From this statement, it is apparent that the narrator was deeply affected by the damages brought by the bombing of Washington DC. It is, therefore, wrong for branding all Muslims as terrorist as supported by Islamophobia.
In Western various Western countries, Arabs and Muslims are often perceived as the foreign enemies thus forcing them to endure the wrath of the stereotypical representations that are present in the wests culture of whiteness. Suheir Hammads First Writing Since has played a significant role in denouncing Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination directed towards the Muslim community.
Femonster. "Suheir Hammads First Writing Since: Challenging Assumptions of Arab Homogeneity and Racial Discourses." Student Voice (2013): 1-6. print. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGNAUL6xx_s >.
Hammad, Suheir. "First Writing Since." Middle East Research and Information Project, Inc. (2001): 2-3. print.
Taylor, Lisa K. and Jasmin Zine. Muslim Women, Transnational Feminism and the Ethics of Pedagogy: Contested Imaginaries in Post-9/11 Cultural Practice. Routledge, 2014. print .
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