By Iftikhar Ahmad
According to British writer and lecturer, Karen Armstrong, the west is
deeply Islamophobic and the Islamophobia is the result of a long process of
prejudice, dating back to the Crusades. The recent events have strengthened
the prejudiced belief that "Islam is the religion of the sword".
Islamophobia can manifest itself directly in verbal or physical attacks on
Muslims but also indirectly in negative images of Muslims presented by the
media. Islamophobia was worsened by anti-Islamic policies, publications and
activities in Europe and the US. Islamophobia is not only a cause of
discrimination against Muslims but also an open threat to world peace. The
western media and intellectuals play a significant role in spreading
Islamophobia. Hate-mongers have come out of the woodworks in full force.
Now, not a day passes without the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV talk
shows, Hollywood movies, computer games and even children's cartoons and the
myriad of internet websites and chat rooms, attacking Islam and Muslims.
Muslim communities in the western world and its so called leaders have taken
the Ostrich-approach. They have buried their heads in the sand hoping the
problems would go away. It is not going to go away. The neck of the Ostrich
will be cut. Entire Muslim communities living in the west are under attack.
According to a survey, 70% of Americans do not want to see Muslims living in
their neighborhood. There is not a single day when Islam and Muslims are not
attacked by the mainstream news media outlets. Muslims are referred
barbarians who must either be civilised or banished before they pollute the
egalitarian societies in which they were born or now live. According to a
survey in Scotland, half of Scots see Muslims as a 'cultural threat'.
Scotland would lose its identity if more Muslims went to live there.
According to DEMOS, British public is more worried about violent crime and
immigration, but the British establishment has focused too heavily on
Masajid and Muslim organizations are regarded as training centers for
terrorists. Thousands of innocent Muslim youths are being searched in
streets and hundreds of them are behind the bar with out any trial. No
religion advocates terrorism. However, West has directed its anger against
Islam and Muslims by inventing Islamic Terrorism. It is the western
extremism which is portraying Islam as an evil. It is the extremism in
France, Turkey and other European countries where Muslim women are not
allowed to cover their heads. Now the Turkish education chief wants
headscarf ban lifted. In Britain, there is a social and economic pressure on
Muslim women not to cover their heads. Despite international outrage and
the US authorities' own stated wish to close Camp Guantanamo is still
holding detainees illegally. in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions.
There is an undeclared World War III going on in the name of War on
Terrorism. The fact of the matter is that Islam is all peace and hence this
war is war of terrorism and not against terrorism. Deception and lies are
frequently part of the wars and with powerful Hollywood film tools and other
media communications devices people of the world are thoroughly fooled,
deceived and made confused. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is an
unmitigated disaster that had brought the west generally into disrepute.
Inter Milan, the Italian foot-ball team played with an Istanbul team,
wearing a strip with "Crusader-Style" red crosses which is offensive to
Muslims. The red-cross brings to mind one thing: the symbol of the "Templar
Knights". The cross also symbolised "western racist superiority over Islam".
Inter Milan had manifested in the most explicit manner the superiority of
one religion over another. Many EU countries are against Turkey joining EU
on the ground that majority of Turks are Muslims with secular constitution.
Widespread ignorance and Right-wing groups is the main culprit behind the
demonized image of Islam in the west. Islamophobic west has become
politically motivated. Western media and politicians are portraying Muslims
as "satanic figures". A recent British study has found that a torrent of
negative and imbalance stories in the British media demonize the sizeable
Muslim minority and their faith by spreading prejudices and portraying them
as the enemy within. Many people in the west, including researchers and
those working in the media, unintentionally provide a blemished image of
Islam because they are ignorant about Islam and Muslims. The republication
of Danish cartoons clearly shows the prevalent ignorance about Islam. The
United Nation wanted to introduce a universal law to protect Muslims from
Islamophobia, which is spreading like wildfire, but the so-called civilised
western establishments, voted against it. It is the fundamental duty of
Muslims settled in the west to raise awareness of the spirit and core of
One by one all Muslim Organizations are going to be classified as
'Terrorists'. BBC Newsnight has already branded world Assembly of Muslim
Youth (WAMY) as terrorist. According to TES, dated 1st Feb2002, Muslim
teacher's website has been condemned for links to militant Islamic groups.
It is absurd to brand Muslim teachers website as a terrorist. Its aim is to
provide guidance, share experience and discuss every day issues and problems
facing Muslim teachers. It is also going to help British teachers to learn
to respect and understand Islamic culture and most misunderstood British
Muslim community. Racism in schools is alive and well was recognized by the
Focus Institute on Rights. Staff in many schools is unwittingly racist but
in my view, all British teachers are chicken racist. Racism is rife in
National Curriculum. There is no mention of Muslim contribution in the
world. Schools reinforce the racism that has been promulgated for centuries.
The curriculum is supposed to encourage respect for different nationals,
religious and ethnic identities and encourage pupils to challenge injustice.
A report on teachers from the minority communities found that racism coupled
with a lack of support and career progression is holding some back. Even
teacher trainees were encountering racism at placement schools. They would
like to discuss their worries more, but only if the senior management team
was visibly open and supportive. The management at schools was very
defensive about any mention of racism, so the issue could not be discussed
in any meaningful way. If a teacher in English school calls a teddy bear
Jesus Christ, there would be seriously hostile comments in much of the
media. While in Sudan a British teacher was tried and imprisoned for
insulting Islam for fifteen days but was pardoned by the President and released after eight days. She said after her release that she encountered
nothing but kindness and generosity from Sudanese people. She was treated
well in a Government Villa instead of a prison cell. She could have been
imprisoned for six months and forty lashes. It is a fact that British
teachers have no respect for Islamic faith and subsequently Muslim
community, according to research by the University of Derby.
All the Masajid and Muslim organizations are there for humanitarian,
educational and youth works. None of them promotes acts of terrorism or
support so called Islamic Terrorism. They are busy in those aspects of
education, which are neglected by state schools. They satisfy the needs and
demands of the Muslim children and teenagers, which were denied by state
schools and LEAs. Without their support and guidance the young generation of
Muslim would have lost its Islamic Identity crucial for mental, emotional
and personality development. Their contribution will be more effective if
all Muslim pupils attend Muslim schools with Muslim teachers. It will help
to develop positive co-relation between school and home resulting in raising
the standard of education of future Muslim generations. For this purpose, I
have a proposition that those state schools where Muslim pupils are in
majority may be designated as Muslim Community Schools, managed and
controlled by Muslim Educational Trusts and Charities. They are in a better
position to educate Muslim children according to their needs and demands. A
study by the National Foundation for Educational Research confirmed that all
faith schools had better results than their secular counterparts.
Conservative spokesman on education has praised schools affiliated to
religious groups, saying Muslim schools deserved "support" not suspicion.
London School of Islamics
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