I just need to get this off my chest. I understand if it goes unread.
This morning on Radio 4, there was a short piece about Islamophobia (stupid word) and how it appears to be on the increase. A recent BBC survey of 1,000 people showed that 25% of 18-25 year olds have a fear of Moslems. Naturally, many commentators are exploiting this statistic and there was a nice little debate on the programme.
In the one camp are the Moslems themselves. They claim the reason why this Islamophobia exists is because Islam is portrayed, almost exclusively, in a negative light in the media and this is transferred to the general public and amplified in groups that have never bothered to befriend and converse with Moslems.
There was an interesting interview with two Moslem women who wear the full veil or hijab. They said they had been the victims of verbal abuse. One of them also related an incident of a man snatching her veil off her head and laughing about it. They both said they were afraid to leave the house. This, they said was persecution for their religious beliefs.
While I don’t condone physical abuse, I also have major problems with the hijab, burqa and other forms of female disenfranchising. Still, if you truly believe that some invisible being requires you to hide yourself behind a bit of cloth, there’s very little I could write that would convince you otherwise. In my opinion, if you have to wear it because you fear a man’s adverse reaction to your beauty, then there’s something wrong with the men rather than you.
In the other camp were those that believe that Islamic beliefs are out of place in the Britain of today and do not sit easily. They also maintain that the reason the media carries so much negative coverage is because some of the worst atrocities in the world these days seems to come from Islam dominated countries.
Take Kenya, for instance. I have read reports that claim that Islamic militants have been wandering around Somalia gathering up the children of poor people, saying they’d educate them, then brainwashing them into becoming martyrs for the cause. If this is true, it’s frightening indeed.
This Islamophobia made me think about the Catholic/Protestant thing in Northern Ireland. I’ve never understood how there could be such enmity between two religious groups who believe in the same god, the same Jesus and the same set of moral rules to live by.
Okay, I understand how the Wars of Religion in France were a case of the Catholics ridding themselves of the Protestant upstarts in an effort to retain their power over the majority of French citizens, but that was a few hundred years ago. How come they still carry on in the Ireland of today? And why? Seems very odd.
The same could be said of Islam. Moslem countries are often having purges of various sects of Islam by Islamic fundamentalists of one sort or another.
Anyway, that’s basically all I wanted to say on the subject except to add that Moslems frighten me as well. If I see someone dressed in Islamic clothing and sporting one of those scary beards, I immediately assume they mean me, and my life, harm. I realise this is ridiculous but, nonetheless, I feel it. I assume it’s because they keep killing innocent people and themselves without any remorse.
As a footnote…later in the day I heard an Anglican vicar saying how everyone should pray for the gunmen as well as the victims. Seriously? I have never understood the forgiveness thing anyway, but that’s just heartless.