Is the media stirring up Islamophobia? Well, of course it is, but then again how much help are Muslims offering?
In an unprecedented move in the modern world, Egyptian members of the Constituent Assembly (responsible for drafting a new Constitution) came to the conclusion that there are no other religions except the faiths they deem legitimate.
The rest of the world’s billions have no right to practice their religion on Egyptian soil, and that includes Islamic factions that they disapprove of.
In a world that has more than 500 million minority Muslims scattered all over the globe, Egypt, and its al-Azhar institution, is allowing a group of politically-ignorant people to mess with these minorities. Not knowing the ramifications that will befall Muslims minorities once such stands are taken is clearly a problem. They see right under their feet, with no regard to political and humanitarian consequences.
Today, while we fight calling for the protection of the Muslim minority in Burma from being slaughtered, our incredible bunch is discriminating against other religions…and we have the nerve to ask them to stop killing Muslims. We protest and boycott Denmark for some caricature that insulted our prophet, yet at the same time, we are writing a constitution that completely nullifies those religions we do not like.
As if we needed that! As if we needed even more wrong moves in the wake of the Islamophobia that seems to be spreading like fire all over the world, including Egypt.
Amnesty International issued a report in April about discrimination against Muslims in European countries, urging the governments to work harder on the issue. “There is a groundswell of opinion in many European countries that Islam is all right and Muslims are ok so long as they are not too visible. This attitude is generating human rights violations and needs to be challenged,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination.
What the report hinted at was that Muslims should remain ‘invisible,’ what happens now when Muslim countries flagrantly take away the right to practice other religions? When Muslims ban the freedom of belief in their own countries? How will this turn the tables and how will it affect Muslim minorities abroad? I suppose ‘being invisible’ will not cut it anymore.
Yesterday, the BBC Sunday Morning Live show’s text vote was: Is the media stirring up Islamophobia?
Well, of course it is, but then again how much help are Muslims offering? Given that one of the most tolerant moderate countries of a Muslim majority is now drafting a constitution by a group of ultra-conservative Islamists, whose main target is to ban the practice of ‘unapproved of’ religions?
Next month will see the release of Deepa Kumar’s book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, says in the book’s Introduction: “This book is about the image of ‘Islam,’ that mythical creation conjured out of the needs of empire that has led even progressives to claim that Muslims are more violent than any other religious group.”
She explains further in an interview how Islampohobia is an essential building block of empires, under the pretext of democracy and how Islam abuses women. A rhetoric adopted by the Brits when they occupied Egypt, by the Americans during their Iraq war, and by the Israelis in Palestine for decades.
While Kumar and hundreds of other writers and activists are trying to polish and cleanse the deteriorating image of Islam while fighting against the backward ideas and the Islam-tarnishing media, Egypt’s chosen members of the Constituent Assembly insist on fighting back and making sure we maintain being hated, discriminated against and criminalised.
If we continue down this path of closed-mindedness, Muslims will continue to suffer and defending Islam will be an even more difficult task than it is now.
The writer is a prominent columnist. The article was published in the Daily News of Egypt on July 9, 2012