Ah yes, that “Bin Laden Episode”–Â does anyone remember it?
“This century has not been a pleasant one for Muslims as they have been branded as terrorists and barbarians.”
28 Mar 2012
Mrs May has so far resisted demands to ignore Europe and simply put him on a plane because she wants a lasting legal ruling that ensures Qatada is removed permanently with no grounds for challenging his deportation.
… Mark Thompson, its outgoing director-general, is more wary of giving airtime to Can We Talk About This?, the National Theatre’s examination of how Islam is curtailing freedom of speech.
I was distraught to learn that half of all Canadians believe Muslims can’t be trusted.
Fifty-two per cent of Canadians said “not at all” or only “a little” when asked if Muslims can be trusted. However, 48 per cent responded that they trusted Muslims “a lot” or “somewhat.” Seventy per cent of French Canadians, who usually have stronger negative views than English Canadians, expressed little or no trust in Muslims compared to 43 per cent of English-speaking Canadians.
The poll results should disturb the Muslim community because this indicates how their fellow Canadians perceive them. The Muslim leadership should look for reasons why they are not trusted and come up with some concrete solutions to the problem.
One of the major reasons why Muslims are not trusted is because of the adverse publicity generated by 9/11, the Osama bin Laden episode and the continuous terrorist attempts made by al-Qaeda. This century has not been a pleasant one for Muslims as they have been branded as terrorists and barbarians.
Several incidents of harassment of Muslims were reported in the U.S., especially in the aftermath of 9/11, and in some incidents, shops owned by Muslims were looted and vandalized. Muslim children have been bullied and called names in schools.
To make matters worse, those responsible for terrorism have been Muslims or converted Muslims who call themselves jihadists and have religion as their battle cry. The word jihad is an Arabic word, which means strive. Jihad is an effort to practice religion in the face of oppression and persecution.
When Saddam Hussein asked his Islamic leaders to join him in his jihad to defeat the U.S. when it attacked Iraq, it was his holy war he was talking about. People like bin Laden and Hussein try to mislead the world that their war has become a jihad, and therefore there is a communal responsibility for all Muslims to get involved. They are guilty of twisting their political ambitions through religious means. Their holy war is a political war.
Qur’an burning and the ensuing riots in which 30 Afghans and six U.S. soldiers were killed reinforces fear of Islamism, a fundamental, extremist ideology, culminating in the mistrust of Muslims. It is wrong to blame the whole community â€” all Muslims â€” for the actions of a few. Such stereotyping must stop. Muslims must be judged as individuals who have contributed to their adopted land, and Canadians should not form an opinion based on the actions of the most violent factions.
So what should be done to solve this problem? Muslim leadership has a responsibility to find ways to promote better understanding between religions and communities. That means promoting interfaith, intercultural relations and building bridges between different communities to combat stereotypes and discrimination.
As the Aga Khan points out in his book, Where Hope Takes Root: “A dramatic illustration is the uninformed speculation about conflict between the Muslim and others. The clash, if there is such a broad civilizational collision, is not of cultures, but of ignorance.”
It is the fear of the unknown and ignorance of the other guy, be it his religion, culture or race, which is the root cause of the conflict.
In a speech, the Aga Khan said: “Instead of shouting at each other, our faiths ask us to listen â€“ and learn from one another. As we do, one of our lessons might well centre on those powerful, but often neglected chapters in history when Islamic and European cultures interacted co-operatively and creatively to realize some of civilization’s peak achievements.
“The spirit of pluralism is not a pallid religious compromise. It is a sacred religious imperative. In this light, our differences can become sources of enrichment, so that we see ‘the other’ as an opportunity and a blessing â€” whether ‘the other’ lives across the street or across the globe. If our animosities are born out of fear, then generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned about a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.”
On a governmental level, Canada is in a unique position to broaden and develop its governance and pluralist experience. Canada’s justice system, federalism and pluralist democracy are distinct and inspirational. The policy-makers have to use these tools effectively for this purpose.
This survey indirectly blames our educational system, schools and teachers for not combating stereotypical thinking. Trustees, teachers and professors should don their thinking caps to evaluate the issue and seek ways to improve the education system.
On a personal level, individuals â€” Muslim and non-Muslim â€” have to build their own personal bridges by extending a hand of friendship to their co-workers, neighbours and friends. It is time to invite your neighbours for coffee and cakes; it is time to go for coffee with your co-workers so that they can understand that you may belong to a different religion or culture, but underneath, we are all the same. It is at this individual and personal level that these stereotypes will be eradicated.
If everyone took this personal campaign seriously, then I believe the next poll taken in Canada will reflect positive results.
Â I find it hard to swallow that Muslims residing in the west, behind what they consider enemy lines, lecture us about pluralism when Â they eradicate ‘the other’ in their countries on a daily bases. There is no pluralism in Islam, and Mansoor Ladha along with the lying Aga Khan should be clearly told to face the music or go fuck themselves. The connivance of these creeps becomes increasingly offensive.
Mansoor Ladha is a Calgary-based journalist and the author of A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims.