‘Out of the Concentration Camp’
Towards Fluid Identities for Muslims in Ali Eteraz’s ‘Native Believer’
Pages 73 - 97
For Ali Eteraz, contemporary Muslim subjectivity is imprisoned inside centuries of indoctrination that make Muslims ill-prepared to face the challenges put forward by 9/11. Similarly, mainstream American identity feeds on supremacism that escalates cultural tension instead of easing it; triumphalism and expansionism antagonize not a small number of people around the globe. The narrative of Ali Eteraz’s ‘Native Believer’ (2016) broaches the need for a nonoppositional ontology inclusive of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Eteraz’s proposal works toward defusing the antagonism that mires the contemporary world in stagnation and violence. The protagonist in ‘Native Believer’ remains unable to reconcile his Muslim background with his Americanness until he embraces the androgynous third identity that mediates between the former two only to bypass them both. He seeks to recapture the heterogeneity of the early American republic as set by its founding fathers; this is how he eventually joins a Department of State team that reaches vulnerable Muslims worldwide. Instead of furthering the expansionist goals of the U. S. empire or blowing up himself and others, Eteraz’s protagonist is keen on aiding fellow Muslims to become active participants on the world stage. Eteraz’s protagonist instantiates tolerance as a midway course that deflates the tension between the supremacists on both sides.