Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Controversy
The Muslim Twitterverse erupted this past Friday (12/23) in response to false and racially insensitive statements made by world renown American Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the Annual Revitalizing the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention in Toronto Canada.
During a Q & A session moderated by Mehdi Hassan, Shaykh Hamza was asked if it was a mistake that in general Muslims have gone “awol” during anti-racist movements such as Black Lives Matter. He responded in part by explaining that “there are twice as many whites that have been shot by police but nobody ever shows those videos. It’s the assumption that the police are racist and it’s not always the case…I think it’s very dangerous to just broadstroke any police that shoots a black as immediately being considered a racist, sometimes these are African American police officers. The police aren’t all racist.” The following day, Shaykh Hamza sought to address the swirling controversy in his keynote speech. Unfortunately, many of his subsequent statements were also viewed as inflammatory. One statement in particular stood out for many: “The biggest crisis facing the African American community in the US, is not racism. It is the breakdown of the Black family. I think it is one of the great tragedies of that community”. This remark harkened back to the negative and stereotypical tropes of Black pathology developed over 50 years ago in the “Moynihan Report” and used to obscure the very real structural and systemic inequalities faced by the Black community.
Given the tendency for our social media feeds to become echo chambers confirming our pre-existing views, many folks have not had an opportunity to read or hear perspectives from those with whom they may have differing opinions.
See below the RIS2016 ROUND UP: a brief timeline and selective (not exhaustive) list of those leaders and others who have weighed in on the controversy and its fall out in the community.