We are living in an age where the security state is becoming more dominant over our everyday lives, and where counter-terrorism legislation threatens our rights, charities and privacy. But there is still a lot Muslims and their organisations can do to resist oppression and build unity within the community. We’ve taken Timothy Snyder’s ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century’ as a rough guide and added some steps of our own:
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- Believe in the Truth:
Never let go of the truth that Allah is in complete control. When times get tough, hold this close to your heart. Use this as the basis for all your actions.
- Inform yourself and others:
Don’t accept manipulations of the truth. Inform yourself with a wide range of alternative, objective news that quotes real, named sources from non-partisan organisations.
- Resist the crowd:
In the face of oppression, people often anticipate what the state wants and they do it without even being asked to. Don’t be one of these people. Question authority fearlessly and stay true to your principles.
- Support charities and institutions:
Lend your support, voluntary or otherwise, to a group or institution whose aims and ethics contribute to a robust civil society. There is strength in numbers.
- Do not use or buy into the language of oppression:
Watch out for loaded terms such as “terrorism”, “radicalisation” and “extremism”. Reclaim language for yourself and others. If you have to use such terms, mention the wider context and qualify your use of them.
- Don’t be afraid to set an example:
Standing out from the crowd can be scary, but once you do it a few times, you get used to it. If you’re speaking truth, people will follow. Courage is contagious.
- Talk to people:
Technology is not enough to keep you connected. Nothing beats face-to-face time with like-minded people. Make new friends. Follow up. It is crucial for forging unity.
- Investigate events and broaden your knowledge:
Invest your time in good investigative journalism (yes, those long articles). Read books that provide a critical world view like:
– ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons for the Twentieth Century’ by Timothy Snyder
– ‘Misunderstanding Terrorism’ by Marc Sageman
– ‘Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror’ by Judith Herman
– ‘Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient’ by Edward Said
– ‘Drone Theory’ by Gregoire Chamayou
- Protect yourself:
Encrypt your devices. Keep your private life private. Minimise interactions online. Have important meetings in person with your phone switched off or even left at home.
- Find common ground:
Interact with others that disagree with you and try to find where you can work together. Oppressors love it when “their subjects” fight with each other; it keeps them strong. Resist the urge to argue over small things. Find middle ground. Practice healthy debate.
- Work outside the common constraints:
Power attempts to place you within a pre-set framework of known constraints and outcomes. You must break the mould and work to find alternative solutions outside these frames. Be creative in your activism.
- Be resilient:
Working against oppression will entail taking risks. You will make mistakes, and you will be targeted by the media and politicians. You must be resilient, uncompromising over the rights of your community and overall patient and dignified. Change happens with time.
- Be calm in the wake of an act of violence:
Wait for the truth to emerge. Remember acts like these are often used to divide communities and introduce more oppressive laws and policies. You don’t want to be complicit in that.
- Be resourceful
In confronting oppression and tyranny you will be less resourced and will be locked out of the public space. You must be resourceful in breaking this blockade and maximising your efficiency.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)