Raouf Rasool

Who is racist, us or them…?

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It has been for long that the Muslims have been experiencing what has come to be known as – Islamophobia, or the fear of Islam and Muslims. This fear breeds prejudice and hate against Muslims at the hands of those who suffer a sort of mental condition wherein they are scared of everything related with Islam and the Muslims for a weird set of reasons. What happened in New Zealand past Friday – the way an Australian extremist trained his guns at the innocent Muslim worshippers is yet another manifestation of growing Islamophobia showing itself in the ugliest form.

Though centuries-old stereotypes about the Muslims as being violent, oppressive, and intolerant are a big reason for this mental conditioning, but a major share of blame can be placed on the mainstream media which has demonized Islam and the Muslims to such an extent that Edward Said dedicated an entire book ‘Covering Islam’ to uncover this villianizing effect of the Western mainstream media.

An interesting book ‘Islamophobia’ by Gottschalk, a professor of religion at Wesleyan University, also considers five decades of political cartoons, Americans’ casual demonizing and demeaning of Muslims and Islam as major contributing factors. The book says this demonizing is as common among liberals as conservatives. This racist-like bias against Muslims is very real, and can be easily discerned by way of looking at the media’s reportage of and opinions about the events concerning or involving Muslims.

It happens not only in the West but India’s mainstream media too has for the past several years now following a similar prejudice. The way news and for the matter even the entertainment is packaged and presented is symbolic of the wider feelings and paranoia about Islam, and reflect misunderstandings and prejudice among the media-people about Islam which they keep on transferring to the huge swathes of audiences, thereby widening the cultural chasms between Muslims and other communities.

That an Aussie was involved in Christchurch mosque shooting does not come as a surprise because for years now anti-Islam rants and rallies have been common place in Australia. For instance, there is a group called ‘Reclaim Australia’ which is primarily opposed to Islam in Australia. The group has attracted neo-Nazis and the involvement of neo-Nazis in promoting and attending Reclaim Australia rallies has been well documented, as are countless other incidents not only there but elsewhere as well. Yet for some unknown reasons the governments have not done anything to counter or neutralize this hate. Instead many have been complicit even in promoting and patronizing this racist behavior varied reasons.

The incident in New Zealand must serve as eye-opener to all the Islamophodes (or Islamopholes) whose personal misperceptions about Islam are sowing the seeds of hate and prejudice that could have very dangerous consequences, as has been proved by the Christchurch massacre.

 

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