Displaying items by tag: Islamophobia

Monday, 15 April 2019 14:18

Islamophobia: A Personal Reflection

One week on from the terror attacks in Ōtautahi, Hala Nasr reflects on growing up Muslim in Aotearoa.

I woke up to a surreal realisation. It feels familiar, deep in my bones yet disembodied in the anxious discourse of dismissal, from friends, colleagues, and even people from my community. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we are not exceptional, we are not a utopia far from the world’s problems, we are its mirror reflection. Our problems are local and situated, but also global and messy. I can’t shake the thought: I told you so. Why didn’t you believe me?

I grew up centred by Tīkapa Moana and Islamic bedtime stories. Playing netball (goal attack for life) in a miniskirt, and Friday prayers in a hijab with my baba. Parties on Saturday night and Arabic School on Sunday. When I hear tuis sing or see pīwakawaka dancing, my heart literally leaps. Do you see me?

When I was eight, drawing my self-portrait, a Pākehā girl in my class grabbed the beige crayon out of my hand, telling me to use the dark brown crayon instead. I refused to go to school that week. I never told my mama why.

When I was eleven, I watched a terrorist attack unfold on a television in class. That day, my predominantly Pākehā classmates connected me to the terrorists, and for weeks asked me why my mother wore a scarf on her head. I would hide in the library at lunch times. I never told my mama.

When I was 19, a boy I liked told me it wouldn’t work because I was a Muslim, and my family were Muslim. His mother wouldn’t approve. I didn’t bother telling him: neither would mine.

When I was 20, a university lecturer told my third-year Political Science class that Week 10’s class was on Muslim terrorism. I asked about right-wing terrorism. He told me to sit down and shut up. I looked around at my predominantly Pākehā peers, no one said anything. I left.

When I was 25, my mama, who wears a hijab, was assaulted in Milford Mall (our local for over 25 years), and told to “get out of New Zealand.” The management staff did nothing despite our complaints.

When I was 26, Neo-Nazis delivered boxes of pig heads to the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, while saluting Hitler and calling for Muslims in Aotearoa to be ‘culled.’ I felt uneasy visiting Christchurch for work. I didn’t feel I could tell my boss or colleagues.

When I was 27, white supremacists were given platforms to visit and speak to sold-out venues in Australia and Aotearoa. When Muslims objected, we were told that we were exaggerating, that we were the enemies of freedom. In the end, their freedom of speech was prioritised over our lives.

I’m 28 now, and on that Friday night, my mother said to me: “I can’t have 80 children’s lives on my conscience, ya Hala.” She had decided to cancel Sunday School that weekend. She has volunteered, managing and teaching Arabic and Islam to children in the Muslim community of the North Shore, for almost 20 years with other women in our community – ten years of which my sister and I attended. The police have asked that the Sunday School stay closed till further notice.

My sister told me not to worry, “I brought our cats inside in case they want to target Muslim cats, too.” We laughed, and then we cried.

Since Friday, grief has come in waves, as has the awhi from Pākehā and non-Muslims. I understand the need Pākehā and non-Muslims feel to make up for their past indifference or to reiterate that Muslims are just as much of here as anyone else. But the culmination of my lived experiences, and many others which I can’t bring myself to repeat, rests under the surface of my discomfort with the ‘They Are Us’ solidarity statements.

It feels like negation, not just of my own lived experiences, but also of our own history as a nation. Because, while Friday was a dark day, maybe one of the darkest, Aotearoa’s settler-colonial history is a long white-supremacist storybook. I will not pretend it is new, that it is exceptional, that I didn’t see it coming. I did, and you should have too.

Even now, even in wake of the terrorism against my community, some Pākehā and non-Muslims have found it hard to hear this. I have experienced their endless need to ‘explain’ my feelings on this away. In one breath, mourned and warned.

In this moment in our nation’s history, there’s nothing else to do here but learn from the past and do better:

Honour the Treaty.

Hold racists accountable (describing the racism you witnessed to your non-White friend after the fact does not count).

Vote in more representative politicians.

Join and organise with your local anti-racist, anti-colonial organisations.

Learn to recognise and dismantle your white privilege and entitlement (Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F Saad is a good start).

Actively listen and privilege the knowledge and experiences of Māori and non-White migrant communities.

He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.

Salam Alaikum.


Published in: The Pantograph Punch,  24 March 2019

Source : https://www.pantograph-punch.com/post/islamaphobia-a-personal-reflection

Illustration: Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho 


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Thursday, 28 February 2019 09:29

Debunk Islamophobia

Expressions of Islamophobia range from outright confrontation involving subjugation and killing to various forms of punitive actions.

Such repressions could be communal or state sponsored as a form of external aggressions from people of different faiths or within the same faith.

These have resulted in both covert and overt actions ranging from sanctions to their physical appearance, speeches, practices, banning them from visiting certain countries, restricting their movements to specified areas within a country to outright massacre and genocide.

The massacre of the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State of Myanmar is a cause celebre.

Myanmar’s government has systematically maimed, tortured, raped and killed the Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship despite the fact they are the original inhabitants in the state.

Less known and out of the glare of the international media and covertly executed is the persecution and subjugation of the Uighur Muslims of Turkish origin in Xinjiang, China.

Out in the Middle East, Israel with the connivance of America are persecuting Palestinian Muslims, torturing and killing them, having occupied their lands and incarcerated them in a prison-like blockade of land, sea and air.

Unlike the covert subjugation of the Uighur Muslims in China which was put under wraps and disguised as acculturative re-education, the Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians are cause celebre, but with a different slant.

In this case the Jewish American-controlled media distorts the facts, creating the perception that Israel is the victim while the Palestinians are the aggressors. This is an overt form of Islamophobia.

There are other covert intimidating forms of Islamophobia in so-called democratic countries that are supposed to have freedom of religious and secular expressions, pretending to tolerate differences of belief and lifestyle and celebrate unity in diversity.

Another aspect of Islamophobia is the prejudice within the Islamic community. One is between nations and the other is within nations.

In both cases, the conflict is between Sunnis and Shia, which dates back to the time of the emergence of the four Caliphates. It is prejudice and animosity between these two denominations of Islam.

Sunnis believe Muhammad is the last Prophet, while the Shia regard Ali as the anointed successor of Prophet Muhammad. Shia-Sunni relations have been volatile, resulting in violence confrontations.

Such confrontation occurs when one country has an overwhelming Shia or Sunni population as in the case of Iran and Iraq or a proxy one as in the case of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This sectarian conflict is also replicated within a nation having both Shia and Sunni populations as in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Azerbaijan, which have a majority Shia population, and a minority in Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

It is a known fact that Shia and Sunni can co-exist peacefully but the underlying dormant tensions can be exacerbated into internecine conflict when political agendas are factored into the equation. This has been the case in Iraq and Syria.

Even within the exclusively Sunni Muslim population as in Malaysia and Indonesia, there are conflicts the result of different groups giving different interpretations in the practice of Islam based on their political ideology. Political parties that misused Islam purveyed their own brand of the religion and regard all others who are at variance with their religious and political beliefs as infidels.

Islam as a religion has attracted so much negative attention, perceptions and animosities. Its believers have been persecuted, subjugated, maimed and killed in certain countries. It has been touted as a religion of violence and linked to terrorism.

The beauty and the true image of Islam has been tarnished by unscrupulous leaders who hijacked the religion to serve their political agenda.

The regional and world organisations such as the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Asean seem unable to solve the plight of the Muslims.

The Muslim community is fractured, each having its own earthly agenda and forsaking the true teachings of Islam as enshrined in the Quran and Hadiths.

And the western powers have taken advantage of the economic weakness of the Muslim countries as well as the greed of the despotic and corrupt rulers of the wealthy countries to perpetrate dissension and confrontation among the Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East.

It is imperative that Muslim countries cast aside hostility towards each other and reconstitute the ummah to be a military and economic force that is able to exert influence and secure the safety and security of Muslims beyond individual geographical borders.

Muslim countries must have physical, economic and intellectual strength to counter the covert and overt confrontation of Islamophobia.

The writer is an emeritus professor at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang

Published in: New Sunday Times, 3 February 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/02/456870/debunk-islamophobia

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014 13:31

The root cause of Islamophobia

MISPERCEPTION: People's failure to distinguish between true Islam and extremism is the real problem. ANTI-MUSLIM voices are rising all across the world. In many countries, including the United States,  Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain and Germany, new measures are being taken almost daily because of the reactions against the presence of Muslims. The increasing reactions are leading to serious divisions in societies....................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Published in Media Articles
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