The marginalisation of Muslims must end

When Ahmed Mohamed built a clock he thought his teacher would be pleased, instead the police were called

Yara al-Wazir

Published: Updated:

Being a Muslim in education must not be considered a crime, and the Western world should put an end to institutional marginalisation of Muslims in order to build tolerance.

After last week’s story of a teenager being arrested for building a clock that his teachers thought was a bomb, this week it emerged that a graduate student at Staffordshire University was investigated for months for reading a book on terrorism at the university Library.

More and more, Muslims continue making headlines not for doing something scary, but because an institution thought they may possibly be doing something scary

Yara Al Wazir

The marginalisation of Muslims in the Western world has been exacerbated over the past few years. More and more, Muslims continue making headlines not for doing something scary, but because an institution thought they may possibly be doing something scary. In most cases, the institutions were wrong.

This leads to a mistrust of Muslims in public society, as well as a feeling of alienation and isolation by the Muslim community. In the grand scheme of things, this unnecessary view goes so far as to affect refugees attempting to make it into Europe.

A series of incredibly racist webpages, magazines, and blog posts come up when the words “refugees, Europe, Muslim” are typed into a search engine. The irrational fear of Muslim refugees is so widespread that the Dalai Lama even issued a statement urging the public not to “reject refugees because they are Muslim.”

"Incubation ground for hate"

They didn’t even believe Mohamed Ahmed had a bomb – it was all for show.

The whole point of an educational institution, be it a school or a university, is to educate the public. Unfortunately, educational facilities across the Western world are failing at their core due to systematic racism.

There have been cases of true bomb scares at schools and educational facilities, even in the Middle East. I struggle to believe that the teachers of Mohamed Ahmed actually believed he had a bomb.

The school was not put on lock down, the classrooms were not evacuated, and a bomb squad wasn’t called. The procedure that a government institution should take if it was genuinely worried about a bomb threat wasn’t taken.

This questions the whole integrity of the supposed “threat,” and to me, it seems as though calling the police to arrest Mohamed Ahmed was a ploy to get Muslims in the media.

The negative semantics associated with the marginalisation of minorities in public media, meant that the negativity was also shared. A headline with ‘Muslim’ and ‘bomb’, regardless of the story, provides an incubation ground for hate.

Ultimately, being Muslim is not a significant reason for someone to be suspicious, especially if they work in a government-funded institution such as a university or a public school. While safety is paramount to the success of these organisations, just as the employees receive training on dealing with security threats, they must receive basic training in identifying threats.

Yara al-Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.