If a Muslim is attacked, insulted, or shot in Europe, Israel, or North America, Islamist organizations and imams in the West will speak out. They will post press releases on their websites, email action alerts to their supporters and express their outrage on social media.
The same Islamists who have been so vocal in the defense of their co-religionists in the West and Israel have remained virtually silent as more than 500 Muslims have been killed by the theocratic regime in Iran since the start of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests precipitated by the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the regime in September 2022.
Western Islamists have demonstrated a lack of respect for human rights, due process, and rule of law — all goods for which “Woman, Life, Freedom” protesters are risking their lives to achieve in Iran.
Protesters outraged by Amini’s death have been shot and beaten with batons. Children have been blinded and raped. Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have been jailed by the Islamic Republic while Islamists in the West — who enjoy the freedom of speech and the right to protest — have said virtually nothing.
I have seen it with my own eyes at numerous protests in New York City and Washington, D.C. over the past several months. Western Muslims — especially Muslim women with headscarves — are absent at these rallies for freedom. Yes, some Muslims, especially those in the Iranian diaspora community, have protested the regime, but anti-Western Islamists have not.
They have remained silent even in the face of chemical attacks on schools in more than 29 provinces (out of 31), and 103 cities. Between late November 2022 and mid-March 2023, more than 12,000 students (mostly girls) were sent to hospitals as they gasped for air, coughed, and slumped over their knees in distress. Physicians report that the girls suffer from respiratory, cardiac, and neurological symptoms caused by chemical attacks. The regime has condemned the attacks, but the fact is no organization in the country — aside from the regime — has the resources necessary to perpetrate these attacks in such an organized and persistent manner.
These girls have been abandoned by their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in the West who simply will not protest on their behalf.
The absence of any mention of Iran on the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s website is a case in point. ISNA regularly laments the deaths of Palestinians involved in terror attacks against Israeli civilians but says nothing about the Islamic Republic’s violence against women despite ISNA’s stated commitment to “gender equity and women friendly mosques.”
ISNA is not alone in its failure to address abuses in Iran. The websites of the Nation of Islam (NOI), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), and the Muslim American Society (MAS) all fail to address the Islamist regime’s numerous violations of religious and human rights in the last 44 years. Similarly, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) website remains silent on the oppression perpetuated by the Taliban and the Iranian regime.
The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) website mentions Iran only once, and solely in the context of fiqh development. Notably, the chairman of the ICNA Council for Social Justice, Khalid Griggs, was involved with the Islamic Party of North America in the 1970s.
One thing all these organizations have in common is their tendency to target their outrage at Israel while remaining silent about abuses in Iran.
This silence is the result of several factors: loyalty to and sympathy for any Islamist regime which is anti-West, a lack of concern for human rights, a disregard for women’s rights (even among Muslim women), an equating of secularism with irreligiosity, and a perception of increasing “Islamophobia” in the West. These factors likely contribute to the reluctance of many Muslims to speak out against the oppression and violence perpetuated by Iran’s Islamist regime.
In sum, Western Islamists have demonstrated a lack of respect for human rights, due process, and rule of law — all goods for which “Woman, Life, Freedom” protesters are risking their lives to achieve in Iran. It’s something we should remember every time see Islamists protesting against Western democracies.
Majid Mohammadi is an Iranian-American sociologist and political analyst residing in the U.S., who contributes opinion and analysis to Persian, Arabic, and English news outlets. He has published a number of books.