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On Cherry Picking “Every Land is Karbala” and the Dakota Access Pipeline – by Rayhan Al-Safawi

 The staggering hypocrisy of the “every land is Karbala” camp in the U.S Shia community and the Dakota Access pipeline protests.

By Rayhan Al-Safawi

In two previous articles, we looked over the myth of “Every Day is Ashura and Every Land is Karbala,” and why Ashura and Yazid were actually unique in history.

Our goal was not to advocate political quietism but rather to press for a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of the event of Karbala.

After I wrote both articles, there was quite the backlash. People passionately argued for the symbolic nature of the statement, meaning that we should always stand with the oppressed against the oppressors.

Although I may not agree with the hyperbolic slogan of “Every Day is Ashura and Every Land is Karbala” (yeah, it’s not a hadith, just some made up political slogan!) I find the hypocrisy of those who advocate it here in America to be quite confounding.

Take for instance the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The protests have been led by Native Americans since early 2016 (#NoDAPL) in reaction to a deadly pipeline construction that threatens the region’s clean water and Native American sacred burial grounds.

Who are the true Hussaini? The Dakota Native Americans

The utter cruelty and shamelessness of greedy corporations at Standing Rock was so nauseating that Ayatullah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, vehemently denounced the obnoxious violence perpetrated against the Natives and their lands in America.

If “every land is Karbala” were ever to hold true, it would hold true for the DAPL yet the Shia community in the U.S, especially that one group that will protest anything related to Israel, is shamelessly silent on a tragedy and “Karbala” (if we are to accept the slogan) that is happening in their own country of residence, namely the DAPL that will surely destroy the environment and the lives of so many people.

Yes, some Shias, brave and few, have protested against the DAPL like the lady below (who actually seems like a convert) but this has not been a communal effort like the ones we see against Israel. The efforts are mostly confined to individuals. (For a coverage of the event in Persian, click here.)

Is it only Arab Muslims that deserve the U.S based Shia community’s sympathy? I am tempted to think that if the corporations involved in the DAPL were Jews/Israelis, an organized Shia response and protest would immediately ensue. But no,  – according to them – Native Americans are not as good as Palestinians even though Shia Americans and Native Americans live on the same land.

Ayatullah Khamenei himself has outlined the gravity of the issue and for those who follow him, they should stop cherry-picking his words either.

If Shias as a community really want to bring the message of Imam al-Husayn (as) home, they need to protest against the DAPL and consider it their own Karbala.

Yours Faithfully,

Rayhan Al-Safawi


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