Monday, December 14, 2015

Muslim Communities And Islamophobia

By Mahmoud Ahmad
Dec 14, 2015
Ever since the simultaneous attacks on France and in the USA, anti-Muslim feelings are on the rise with many people slamming anything Muslim. My heart goes out for the Muslim communities living in the West — both in Europe and America — who are facing the worst attacks on Islam and weathering a rising campaign on Islamophobia. There is a rising hatred against Islam in Europe and America and it seems that the radicals in those continents are going to get the upper hand and, even in some places, gain political power.
Islamophobia is now being used as the ‘trump’ card to win votes in political campaigns. The case in point is Republican presidential frontrunner’s proposal earlier this week that all Muslims should be temporarily barred from entering the United States. That Donald Trump is a perfect example of a radical racist who is instigating hatred against the religion of peace is evident by his daily ranting that in the end led to him shoot off this absurd proposal.
Not only is he shooting his mouth off with nonsense against Muslims, but he should be held accountable for what he has been saying because that is putting Muslims living in the West as veritable targets of hate crimes. Before zeroing in on Muslims, he attacked the Mexicans while calling for a ban on them from entering the US. What is even more worrying is that there are a good percentage of people who support his radical ideology against Islam.
The radicalized far-right and the bigots in the West are happy to link Islam to the two recent blasts, following the Daesh (so called IS) attack on France, which was described as the worst terrorist attack on France since World War II, and after the shooting in California by a couple, who happened to be practicing Islam. My question to the saner elements in society is how Islam as a religion is to blame for such terrible attacks?
Sadly, media plays an important role to instigate hatred against Islam while totally ignoring the ethics of the job of reporting fairly while presenting facts. They use insidious tactics by using the word Muslim, Islamists and Islam repeatedly to embed a link in the people’s psyche even though the first information is sketchy and brief. Invariably they speculate by bringing in earlier examples, and ethics gets the deep six as each reporter vies to outdo the others. Among all the hullaballoo the truth gets buried. They keep repeating ‘Muslim terrorist’ or ‘Islamic extremist’ to strengthen the idea of people in the West that Islam and terrorism go side by side. Shame on them.
In a society that is tolerant to all faith and races, what benefit the likes of Trump and his hate mongers hopes to achieve by instigating hatred? Does he think for once that Americans would adopt his radical ideologies and actually support him to become a president? I don’t think so but we will wait to the outcome of the Republican elections. The White House rejected Trump’s statement and said that his statement disqualified him from becoming a president.
We have seen positive statements from people in the West against the radicals who are seeking to use the terror attacks to their advantage and to attack Islam. It is heartening to see how quickly and effectively they rejected their claim while also spurning to join the insular band of Islamophobics.
The battle between the bigots and the pragmatists on the social media was drawn out, and it was encouraging to note that the saner voices outnumbered the crazies. There was a rising wave of hatred against Muslims on social media, but in got blunted with the many messages of tolerance and support.
In that platform, people questioned the haters on why they are repeatedly linking the acts of radical individuals to a peaceful religion. They even called them to be more careful and not to be brainwashed by radically-controlled media.
I was living in the US after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and was personally witness to the rabid media attack against Muslims. But at the same time, I also saw the full and unstinted support of honest American people gave to Muslims despite hateful messages and various attacks from their own people.
A woman wearing Hijab and expressing her freedom of religion could be easily targeted by haters on the street. We have seen incidents where women were booed and verbally abused by these people, all thanks to the hate message and the hate-mongering media. And in a incident, caught on CCTV camera, we have seen how a woman wearing Hijab in the streets of London was attacked and punched to the head and knocked down by a person, simply because she was wearing Hijab and was an easy target.
To the likes of Trump and hate mongers we say that we as Muslims in the Middle East have suffered a lot under the hand of Daesh and terrorists in general. We have been saying this for a long time that radical ideology does not represent Islam. In Iraq and Syria, hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes to escape these radical fighters. We in Saudi Arabia have seen how they have been targeting mosques and innocent people. Before that, we were victims to Al-Qaeda attacks and fought them until they were defeated. At times when we are fighting them and denouncing their activities, we find people in the West making matters worse by linking such activities to Islam.
To the haters of Islam we will say that we are not going to defend our religion because Islam is not accused and is innocent of all claims of hate. What is needed is for such haters to learn the true message of Islam, as a peaceful religion, as a religion of tolerance, compassion and mercy. Their hearts and minds should be open to learn the truth about Islam rather than blindingly believing what is told to them by a hate-mongering media. At the end, hate voices should not be given a platform to express their hateful ideologies.

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