Hatred Knows No Bounds
When many hear the term "Islamophobia" they think of some far left liberal media outlet pushing the latest PC term of the day. However many cases throughout the Christian dominated West have proven the term to be at least loosely based in fact. And for those who believe it to be "fiction", most seem to have a bias against Islam and Muslims to begin with.
In Greece attacks on Muslims have risen like a rocket over the last few years alone. More disturbingly is the fact that many of the attacks go without punishment or rebuke by the public in general. The fact that Greece sets right next door to a massive Muslim state (Turkey) doesn't exactly help either.
In one attack Bangladeshi Muslims were attacked while attending prayers in a Muslim man's basement. The attackers, suspected to be members of a far-right group called Golden Dawn, began with simply screaming obscenities and hateful slurs down into the basement. When the attackers found that they could not deter the worshipers with their words they quickly turned to violence.
Smashing the windows to the basement, the attackers began throwing gasoline filled beer bottles down amongst the worshipers. Flames quickly erupted and scattered the fifty some worshipers. With some luck the fire was put out and the basement was secured by local police. Yet no attackers were ever punished or arrested despite the attempt to lock the worshipers down in the basement while setting fire to it.
It had taken three hours to free the worshipers while the attackers continued with their attempts to set fire to the prayer room once again... with the worshipers locked in.
Greece has promised its growing Muslim population a mosque of their own (all houses of worship are sponsored in one way or another by the state in Greece). Since the early 19Th century the Greeks have made this hollow promise. It wasn't until a mass attack on Muslims last year that Greece has even decided to find a plot of land. And even in this, the Greek government has stalled in building the mosque due to arguing amongst the government officials.
All the while attacks on Greek Muslims continue as bigoted attackers take out their frustrations with a seemingly ever growing minority. Many of the far-right groups in Greece even draw upon the "Spartan" heritage of their ancestors to recruit even the most mild of racist amongst them. Others simply try to paint the "immigrants" as the "hordes" that led to the fall of Rome (note that they try not to remind the Greeks of their own fall to the Ottomans).
In other parts of Europe the attacks on Muslims are still predominately hate speech at best. But as studies show, the attitude in Greece appears to indicate the future attitude in other parts of Europe... i.e. Italy, Spain, and France. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that if police and government officials in Greece are not likely to go after anti-Islamic attackers than other states may allow such attacks to occur too. And the rise in acceptance of hate speech in public forums (such as the European radio and newspapers... both online and in print) does show a trend toward the xenophobia that now holds Greece by its throat.
Now I'm not saying that Europe should stifle or censor its "free press" in any way. However, its governments should be more capable of noting the difference between simply discussing Islam and attacking those who follow its tenants. Yet it appears that most in Europe find the lack of distinction between these two to be acceptable.
Here in America we have the far-left constantly accusing the far-right of being "Islamophobic". This is one reason that the lack of sensitivity to a persons religion has become far to common place in American society (i.e. Family Guy). Instead of polite discussion we far too often resort to constant attacks meant to magnify the stigmas surrounding the Islamic faith.
For the far-right in American society the hate speech usually comes from the same fear of immigrants one might find when talking about Latinos. Yet when it comes to Islam they usually attack the ideas of "Shariah Law" or other extreme elements that exploit Islam. None seem to realize that under the current Constitutional law no such law in accordance with Shariah law could ever be passed. But that's not the point... the associating of Muslims in America to Shariah Law is the same as associating all Native Americans with the "peace pipe".
For the far-left, the real forebears of Islamophobia, the attacks on Muslims comes from their need to "coddle" their potential voters. This need to be condescending toward an entire group of people does nothing to help them but more so toward crippling them. It is a well known fact that minorities in this country face some form of discrimination. That seems to be an unavoidable fact of living in a multicultural society. Coddling and belittling a people based upon the attributes that make them a minority in the first place only serves to forever remind them of their place in a supposedly inclusive society.
In the end we should be looking toward Greece to study what we all wish to avoid... the growth of true hate crimes from primitive bigotry. We should look toward the 9/11 hijackers to see where such hatred leads. We should be looking at ourselves to understand just why we seem to be incapable of openly accepting this group of people and those other minorities we also live with.
Once we have done these things we should then be a little more willing to open our minds to the views of Muslims and be far more willing to study their religion with an open heart. I'm not saying we should convert or compromise our own culture, but we cannot truly understand a people if we constantly refuse to understand the faith they follow. It after all does define them in its own way. It greatly contributes to the way they think, interact with others, and the way they love one another.
In the end, I believe we would be a better nation if we were to accept the Muslims as they are and not for what we wish them to be. We are, after all, a country that espouses the virtues of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our countrymen. And it was once proven in the blood of those who fought on battlefields like Gettysburg that we, as a nation, could no longer stand the injustice of having one group placed below all the rest. So why today would we wish to keep separate our Muslim brothers and sisters from the same dreams of freedom and prosperity that our forefathers passed down to us? And why should we accept an ignorant hatred of them while claiming to be a nation based on justice and equality?
Source Documents for this Post
The Globe and Mail