In an article written by Ari Simeon and Isa Abu Jamal for Counter Current News, these images have been used as an example to highlight the assumptions many Americans bring to global issues, as well as political discourse. When confronted with an image of a Muslim adorned in camo, holding a Qur’an, and bearing an assault rifle, the feeling is much different than when we see an American in a similar pose.
It’s safe to say these photos can be translated similarly. One of these women believes in defending her country with the firearm she possesses. She is devoted to her people and to her beliefs, and she believes her intentions are honorable. But, which one? Both of these women might give corresponding arguments.
Of course, as Counter Current points out, this doesn’t mean we should accept an explanation behind photos such as these uncritically, but considering both of these women might justify themselves in the same way, it should be a sobering realization for many.
While some might believe the Qur’an condones bad ideas, the same argument could be made of Christianity, which has claimed the lives of millions over the centuries—from holy wars to witch trials. According to Daniel Chirot, Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington, the biblical account of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho has been used as a means to justify genocidal Holy war. This includes war waged on one Christian sect by another.
In regards to the violence in the bible, apologists for Christianity sometimes claim “the original language [of the bible] doesn’t really say that,” however again, the same could be said as true of the Qur’an and Islam if you were to ask the average Muslim. Like Christians with the bible, the vast majority of Muslims don’t believe the Qur’an says or means what others from the outside are told to believe it says.
Simeon and Jamal bring to mind a saying, “All translations are lies.” Many pundits and self-described religious experts claim to know what each book “really says”. Unless you know Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Arabic, the average person is unable to make their own interpretations.
“Take a good hard look at these images and tell us: is there really a difference? And if there is, is that difference really as big as we first assume when we look at these two pictures?”