World-renowned public intellectual Jordan Peterson is once again in the spotlight, after depicting Muslims as “backward” and “barbaric” in a YouTube video message addressing Muslims throughout the world.
In a video message posted to his YouTube channel on Wednesday, the Canadian psychologist tried to resolve the issues in the Muslim world, offering his counseling on how to fix sectarian and religious divides and stating that Sunni and Shia Muslims can mend their differences by becoming “pen pals.”
Speaking at the camera, Peterson went on with his patronizing tone, counseling Muslims that they need to reach out to Christians and Jews.
“Muslims, reach across the sectarian divide. Shias, find a Sunni pen pal, communicate with someone on the other side,” he said.
“Sunnis, do the same and then, maybe, tentatively, reach out to a Christian, or heaven forbid, a Jew,” added Peterson, who rose to fame in 2016 through his stance on gender identity politics.
On social media, his comments during the six-and-a-half-minute video drew a sharp rebuke from Muslims, who censured his condescending – yet superficial – advice on how to resolve the problems in the Muslim world.
“Why do we have Muslims legitimizing and defending Jordan Peterson’s bigoted, orientalist perceptions of Islam as some violent monolithic cult where we solely fight amongst ourselves and have this bloodlust for Christians and Jews and that’s all there is to us?!” wrote poet and law student Heydar in his Twitter account.
Why do we have Muslims legitimizing and defending Jordan Peterson's bigoted, orientalist perceptions of Islam as some violent monolithic cult where we solely fight amongst ourselves and have this bloodlust for Christians and Jews and that's all there is to us?!— حيدر (@dialectichiphop) July 15, 2022
During his sermon, Peterson further depicted Muslims as violent people fighting among themselves and felt the need to tell them to stop the fighting at once.
“It is time for those of you in the Muslim world to stop fighting among yourselves, you Shia and Sunnis. And also time to stop regarding the Christians and even more specifically, the Jews, as your enemies.”
In a sharp retort to the remarks, CJ Werleman, an activist against Islamophobia, said that “Peterson wants to believe that Muslims are backward and barbaric, while white dudes like him are educated and enlightened and civilized.”
“He wants you to believe that European colonial powers never destroyed civic, social, and political life in the Muslim majority countries they once occupied,” Werleman added in a YouTube video of his own, titled “Message to non-Muslims Re: Jordan Peterson’s ‘Message to Muslims.’”
He also said that Peterson talks about fixing sectarianism without knowing that this phenomenon in the Muslim world “was harnessed and fueled by European colonial powers who sought to plunder Muslim land by dividing and conquering indigenous Muslim populations.”
Meanwhile, a female Muslim on Twitter also branded the Canadian academic’s speech as humiliating and disrespectful.
“Jordan Peterson didn’t *just* start disrespecting & turning on Muslims bc he’s now with a right wing media company. He’s demeaned us every chance he spoke on Islam and with Muslim public figures. Yall just didn’t notice or have collective amnesia of colonial past & present,” she said.
Academic and writer Tallha Abdulrazaq depicted Peterson’s remarks as “gibberish” and said the comments were way off the mark.
“What gibberish is Jordan Peterson talking about? ‘Reach across the sectarian divide’ between Sunnis & Shia. Maybe have a Christian or even *gasp* a Jewish friend! It's not only patronizing, but it feeds into certain negative narratives about Muslims,” he wrote.
What gibberish is Jordan Peterson talking about? "Reach across the sectarian divide" between Sunnis & Shia. Maybe have a Christian or even *gasp* a Jewish friend!— Dr Tallha Abdulrazaq (@DrTalAbdulrazaq) July 14, 2022
It's not only patronising, but it feeds into certain negative narratives about Muslims.https://t.co/ZNJcd9pgO7
Peterson’s message also appeared to ignore the demographics of the region, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews have lived together for centuries, as well as the inter-faith dialog that has been going on among them throughout the time.
Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan described them as “a patronizing, ignorant, & nauseating ‘Message to Muslims’ from the ridiculous Jordan Peterson.”
"It is time for those of you in the Muslim world to stop fighting among yourselves, you Shias and Sunnis... Shias, find a Sunni pen pal. Sunnis do the same."— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) July 13, 2022
A patronizing, ignorant, & nauseating "Message to Muslims" from the ridiculous Jordan Peterson.https://t.co/JFD0qEDle3
British Muslim academic Imran Hussein also invited Peterson to read Quran to grasp a better understanding of Muslims and their relations with other communities.
“If u haven’t already, please do read the Quran. As u are now directly addressing Muslims it will (as in the words of Thomas Cleary) provide u a superior vantage point, from where you’ll be able to see through the false stereotypes held both by Muslims & non-Muslims,” he wrote.
@jordanbpeterson If u haven't already please do read the Quran. As u are now directly addressing Muslims it will (as in the words of Thomas Cleary) provide u a superior vantage point, from where you'll beable to see through the false stereotypes held both by Muslims & non-muslims— Imran Hussein (@ImranHussein87) July 13, 2022
Back in 2017, Cambridge University rescinded a visiting fellowship offer to Peterson due to his Islamophobic intentions and spreading hatred against the religion of Islam.
The university’s vice-chancellor said that Peterson was pictured with a man wearing an anti-Islam shirt, so the university had to remove the two-month offer to the psychology professor, as his behavior was in contradiction with the university’s rules.
“[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot,” a spokesperson for the university said at the time.
Commenting on Peterson’s video on Youtube, a user said “As a Muslim living in the West, we know all of this. This message should be to the Christians and Jews that think WE’RE the enemy.”
“This is very condescending; Thinking you know the solution of our problems without regarding any colonial history and wars waged in the Middle East.”