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Racism and Islamophobia – In Black & White

Posted by yourpakistan on October 24, 2012


PKKH Exclusive | By Sakina Kavi 

Every day we come across online articles, memes and various other posts shared on the social media, and of course the feel-good television program hosts who repeatedly chant about how important it is to be comfortable in one’s own skin and how the term ‘unique’ could be associated to be ‘beautiful.’ 

However, let’s be honest over here, is all that is preached, and all that we say about accepting our true selves and being in content with all we have, practiced too? I know most of the answers here might come in affirmative. However, recent researches depict a very contradicting aspect of these preached notions. These research analysis state that increasing racism around the world is one factor that creates social consciousness among the people, at the same time, trashing the idea of ‘being comfortable in one’s own skin’. 

Racism in America and other Western countries dates back to as early as the Colonial era (18th and the Slave era (19th century). Throughout the history, the major form of racism depicted has been between the blacks and the whites. Nevertheless, having a black president rule a white dominated country, does point towards the belief that in today’s time, the world is going towards becoming an egalitarian nation; with ethnic, racial and gender differences diminishing with passing time. 

Nevertheless, I may sound like a pessimist and a glass-half-empty person if I deny the concept of egalitarianism, but I believe, it would be nothing but stating the facts. 

The concept of egalitarianism talks about a perfect world with equality for all, and no social barriers of any kind. Egalitarianism is what most of the scholars and peace lovers have been dreaming of since centuries. It makes the epitome of the perfect world with love and acceptance for all. Nevertheless, I still find this concept hard to put in practicality because discrimination, hatred and inequality still exits in our societies, but it is very slyly camouflaged with the veil of democracy and the idea of ‘justice for all’. Ironically, these concepts of justice and democracy are themselves made by none other than the dominating ruling classes. As a result, even the vaguest concept of egalitarianism dies in the process. 

The problem with racism in today’s times is that because of the illusion of an egalitarian society lingering, every kind of mistreatment against anyone needs to be justified. In earlier days, the blacks were discriminated against on superficial basis of their skin color they were thought to be inferior but none asked for a logical reason for their mistreatment. However, in today’s times, with increasing humanitarian rights, every act against any individual needs to be justified, whether living in a third world country like Afghanistan or a first world country like the United States. These justifications come with labeling  and very planned-out campaigns that lead to an even worse form of racism. Therefore, due to the open medium of the social media, and the propagation of agenda-driven content shared through the various means of the media, cyber bullying, name-calling and stereotype building and the constant campaigning of these ideas, the stereotypes end up becoming a part identity of the targets. 

Right after the 9/11 incident, Islamophobia came up as one of the hardest hitting blows for the Muslims worldwide. Islam, being a peace loving religion, lost the true essence of its teachings in the eyes of the world due to the frequent accusations, character judgement and the portrayal of Muslims as ‘terrorists’ in most of the on-aired television programs and other content of the media. 

This concept of labeling Muslims as ‘terrorists’ was enough for the US government to wage two, decade-long wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. The concept of waging wars, and colonizing territories, is certainly not new. Colonization has been practiced since the 18 century, when high horses of the British would barge in to any of the lands they wished to conquer. However, with the strict international laws of the 21st century that restrict nations from violating the sovereignty of other nations, the only way to legitimize these wars for the US government came by invoking a psychological fear into the minds of the rest of the nations that became silent spectators of these wars. 

This psychological fear was by blacklisting the name of Islam, and defending their wars by continually referring to them as ‘the war against terror.’ Thus, the idea of racism against Muslims became legitimized. The spread of such ideas made it easier to point fingers at Muslims, and scapegoat them. Since these incidents, the act of racism against Muslims has been on rise and Muslim immigrants are seen to be having a hard time in the western lands. 

This idea, however, comes in contrary to the prospects on which the United States of America and various other western nations were built. The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus, engraved on a tablet, within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, marks the words of equality by inviting people from all over the world to come and settle into the lands of America. However, the increasing number of incidents of ill-treatment of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, speaks in contrary to the words of The New Colossus. 

However, one study that has come up in recent times, talks about the spread of Muslim population and spread of Islam, though natural means of reproduction and intercultural marriages. Without guns, wars or any other means of violence, Islam has come up to be the fastest spreading religion of the world. The study predicts that in the next 25 years, Islam would come up to be the most dominant religion of the world. This however, does not mean an easy win for the Muslims, of course, even with the increasing number of Muslims all over; they still have to face hostility from believers of other faiths. A very recent incident of such kind happened at France when hundreds of angry protesters barged into a mosque to disrupt the prayer and displayed their disapproval of the accelerating number of Muslim immigration to the country. 

Nevertheless, all the above stated facts bring us to the conclusion that the increasing racism against the Muslims has undoubtedly radicalized most of them, if Islam continues to spread with the same pace, it would not be wrong to predict the sword of revenge hanging above the suppressing number of white population, in the near future. 

Sakina Kavi is an aspiring journalist pursuing a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi. Being a left-winger, Sakina believes in social equality and freedom of speech for all. Sakina tweets @sakinakavi 

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