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OnIslam.net

Dear Western World, Know Before Judging!

By Ahmad Ibtes
Freelance Writer- London
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Historically America has a long history of racial prejudices.

Wearing Niqab in France has been banned, Holland and Belgium are looking into formulating the same restrictions, building minarets in Switzerland has been outlawed and there has been controversy in Germany of building one of the biggest mosques in Europe.

Strange times for Muslims living in Europe!

Ever since 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center the Western world have looked into Islam with a microscope wanting to change parts of it so as not to feel threatened by certain aspects of which they feel are uncomfortable or in other words gearing up to ‘Islamize Europe’.

Far-rights groups such as the Holland Freedom Party which the infamous Geert Wilders called for the Qur’an to be banned from the country has caused controversy across the continent.

Of course these points of views are held by a minority class of politicians or it could be the case of only a minority are willing to say what they believe, yet they stigmatize Muslims and purposely pick on a portion of European residents to further their political goals as is said of former French President Sarcozy in relation to his UMP Party banning Niqab.

Is It Just Muslims?

Northern Ireland’s Catholic communities also feel stigmatized and discriminated against by their better-off Christian Protestant counterparts. A relatively recent history of warfare between the now decommissioned IRA (Irish Republican Army) and the British Armed Forces has left over the abyss of stereotypical views between the two communities (Catholics & Protestants), the conflict was not much of a religious strife but of identification: Irish were Catholic, and the Protestants were originally English).

IRA wanted a United Ireland while the British Armed Forces wanted to protect their Protestant communities.

Catholic youth living in ghettos across Ireland feel they are second picked when applying for jobs, stopped, and searched more by the police (whom 70% are of Protestant origins). This trend has decreased since the final days of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 2001, as the levels of Catholics in the Police Force have increased to 30%.

Still economical empowerment for Catholics is a key for this trend to end as ministers are approving of a cut in cooperation tax so as to allow communities which were hit by the long war-like strife to start picking up again in growth.

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America & Statistics

America is another sad case – but not so much as outright banning as we saw recently with France.

However many instances of discriminations have been recorded for example in June 19, 2007, a 13-year old Muslim student at Seaside High School in Seaside, CA, was shouted at by her supervisor in front of over 100 Students to take off her headscarf “You have to take it off now” while the girl broke up in tears.

Incidents such as these that make a Muslim feel insecure in 21st Century America.

Another striking feature of Islamophobia is the views of those who feel the punch of discrimination as is cited by Pew Research Center “A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks”. Very disturbing!

Historically America has a long history of racial prejudices and in some ways has improved itself since the 1960’s, yet treats its diverse citizens differently:

“Most [Muslims] also believe that the government ‘singles out’ Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring” cited by Pew Research Center.

This stigmatisation has resulted in the formulation of proposals introduced by at least 13 states forbidding local judges from considering Shari’ah when rendering verdicts on matters such as divorce and marital disputes.

So far this year, Gregory R. Ball, a State Senator called a hearing on New York City’s vulnerability to possible future attacks which resulted in the discussion being diverted to a heated quarrel of which Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born American who is president of a group called Former Muslims United and Frank J. Gaffney Jr, a former Defence Department official who both have publicly criticized Islam, gave testimonials causing outrage and anger – upon which the hearing was designated as stigmatizing the US Muslim Minority.

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 Cited by Pew Research Center “A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks”.

Knowing…

Muslims in the West will continue to face discrimination and Islamophobic attacks for years to come. The perceived threat of a resurgent Islam has played a great deal in their feelings of uneasiness with regards to an ever more number of Young Muslims practicing the rites of their religion.

The media is evidently the most at fault in this case: using disparaging incidents across the world singling out Muslims.

The West should stop trying to change parts of Islam to suit their interests because Muslims don’t need advice on Islam from non-Muslims or supposed Muslims helping the governments in that aspect.  Rather what Muslims need is a more balanced view on the Media and not using derogatory terms in correlation with Islam.

Furthermore, governments which don’t infringe on Muslims rights to practice their religion freely including the wearing of the Niqab for Muslim women, to limit the activities of far-right political groups all across the European Union such as the Holland Freedom Party, as they give a platform for Islamophobia slurs and cause dissention in communities made up of different ethnic and religious groups.

I may be wrong, I may have left some points out, but it’s a good step in the right direction I suppose.

Related Links:
Fight Islamophobia, OIC Urges World
UK Line Helps Islamophobia Victims
The “Lemonade Girl” and Islamophobia

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