Jordan based publication The Muslim 500 has named Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as its ‘Man of the Year’ while controversial US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was awarded the honour of ‘Woman of the Year’. In addition, Imran Khan was also named the 16th most influential Muslim in the world.
While awarding Rashida Tlaib, the publication stated, “She took her individual oath of office with her hand on the Quran. Although she is serving her first term in office she is certainly one of the most publicized members, largely because of President Trump who has publicly accused her and three other congresswomen of colour (collectively known as ‘the squad’) of hating America and saying that they should “go back to where they came from”—a trope that has been used by white American nativists since the 19th century responding to waves of immigrants—Irish, Italians, Jews, Latin Americans ignoring or oblivious to the fact that while Tlaib’s parents are Palestinian immigrants, Tlaib was born in America, so the best she could do is go back to Detroit.”
It continued, “Although Trump has denounced all of ‘The Squad’ he seems particularly obsessed with the Muslim congresswomen. They represent all that he despises. Apart from their faith, gender, and ethnic background, both are professed socialists. Tlaib is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and Omar, while not a member of the DSA, has expressed a sympathy for democratic socialism. Both support the various welfare state measures proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders.”
Thus, quite clearly, Rashida Tlaib appears to have been awarded the honour primarily due to her opposition to US President Donald Trump. It stated further, “In September 2019, Tlaib fired back by calling for the President’s impeachment, saying “Trump cannot exist as a lawless president. Please rise up. This is the time. This is a historic time in our country and we need everyone’s voice”. She has shown great strength and dignity in face of the huge pressure being exerted on her and this has made her an inspiration across the globe.”
Similarly, Imran Khan appears to have been granted the award due to his opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Commending his supposed efforts to establish peace with India, The Muslim 500 stated, “As Imran Khan knows, this is not the India those of us old enough to remember and think of when we read or hear the name “India”—the India of Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress Party as led by Nehru, or the Gandhi family and their partisans. India’s present Prime Minister and his own ruling party which ended Congress rule were shaped by the Hindu Supremacist movement—Rashtriya, Sawayamseval Sangh (the RSS)—Modi and several of his ministers remain members of this movement which can be described as a form of Hindu religious fascism.”
It stated further, “So, this is Imran Khan’s great dilemma—how do you make a much desired lasting peace with a nation governed by those who have neither interest nor need to make a lasting peace with Pakistan, and against whom any form of war would be hopeless. The answer it would seem that Khan’s efforts must now focus on mobilizing global opinion, to turn a R.S.S.- led India a global pariah. With his impressive column in the New York Times and the sudden burst of public activity by some of Khan’s touring ministers and ambassadors in America, Europe and perhaps in Asia, that appears to be now underway.”
Thus, it certainly appears that opposition towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump is extremely enriching for Muslim leaders personally. It is unclear, however, the extent to which it benefits their own country. Pakistan, for instance, has landed itself in a situation where its relationship with Saudi Arabia has soured.