Alternate Assemblages in Response to Muslim as Terrorist
Thus far, I have focused on Muslims being framed as terrorists. For re-read, check here & here. In this final Plugging In, instead of examining the construction of Muslim as terrorist, I will look at assemblage, rhizomes and becoming to provide alternate ways to view Muslims proposed by Rwaha.
Blaise speaks of assemblages as “the processes of bringing together heterogeneous elements in order to produce something. The process of bringing together these seemingly random or incompatible elements is active and productive. It is a strategy for producing new perspectives” (Blaise, 806). In response to the question “Why do you say you are German and Muslim instead of saying you are Pakistani-Muslim when you are asked about your cultural identity?” Rwaha stated “I want to show people an alternative that they would not consider- there are many Muslim-Germans but no one seems to know this. It’s not that I am not proud of being Pakistani.” When asked why people don't people expect Germans to be Muslims, Rwaha answered “The Media only shows Arabs as being Muslims. Being European is not associated with being Muslim.” Rwaha is aware of the racism Muslims face in Europe and mentioned that his own parents were “targets of racism” and left Germany because they “wanted a better future for their kids.” By saying he is Muslim-German, he is attempting to put an end to such racism. In saying that he is German-Muslim, Rwaha is interrupting the islamophobic colonial notion that Muslims do not come from Europe. He is assembling a new way to view Muslims saying “Muslims do come from Europe; I’m one of them.” In bringing together two seemingly incompatible elements (being Muslim and European), Rwaha produces a new perspective, that is, being Muslim and European is a reality.
Masny brings up the concept of rhizome saying “for Deleuze, a rhizome functions to disrupt and to create change/becoming…The rhizome provides an alternative to the “tree of knowledge,” the already known. Even as he examines the notion of Muslim as Terrorist, Rwaha attempts to disrupt this idea and create change. From the very beginning, Rwaha establishes that islamophobia is not a truth but a set ideas possessed by some people saying “We chose islamophobia to show how islamophobic people are in general” and “maybe people think he (the terrorist) is Muslim, Indian- because some people attacked Gurudwaras thinking Sihks are Muslims after 9-11- Asian, yeah, South Asian.” By using the term “some people,” Rwaha is demonstrating that some people have the wrong idea about Muslim people.
Puar speaks of assemblage as the French agencement “which means design, layout, organization, arrangement, and relations--the focus being not on content but on relations of patterns” and the way that “specific connections with other concepts…give concepts their meaning” (Puar, 5). When asked about his role in the video Rwaha explained the concept of a Tabligh, connecting it to the western concept of educator: “I am a Tabligh, a preacher, someone who educates others about Islam.” By taking on the role of the Tabligh, Rwaha resignifies“Muslim as terrorist.” As a Muslim educator, he creates a gap in islamophobic discourse questioning the islamophobic notion of “Muslim as terrorist” and enabling alternate perceptions of Muslims.
Works Consulted/ Cited
Blaise, Mindy. "Charting new territories: re-assembling childhood sexuality in the early years classroom." Gender and Education 25.7 (2013): 801-817.
Masny, Diana. "Rhizoanalytic pathways in qualitative research." Qualitative Inquiry 19.5 (2013): 339-348.
Puar, Jasbir. "‘I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess’: Intersectionality, Assemblage, and Affective Politics." Meritum, revista de Direito da Universidade FUMEC 8.2 (2013).