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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

A Very British Response to Creeping Sharia

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By Raashid Riza, Multimedia Editor of The Platform, see original post here

 

A Twitter trend that surpassed its intended purpose – and backfired a little – thanks to the English Defence League’s (EDL) Tommy Robinson.

April 15, 2012, just another day in Tommy Robinson’s growingly Islamicised Britain. Well, it was meant to be just another day, until the master intellectual, visionary strategist – and leader of the EDL – spotted a window of opportunity to whip up further anti-Muslim sentiments.  That night he logged into Twitter on his computer and, to his absolute consternation, observed that the homepage featured an image of a mosque.

The national hero and beacon of British liberal society that he is, he immediately tweeted, “Welcome to the Twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque, what a joke #creepingsharia”. Having an image of a supposed mosque featured on the Twitter homepage was evidence enough for this intelligent, patriotic young man, that Sharia law was indeed slowly, but surely, permeating into the mainstream. Very soon, every woman in Britain will be required by law to dress in a burka out of modesty, akin to the many EDL members who proudly cover their faces during protests.

Of course, this is someone who also tweeted, “I support Israel, so what! In fact I would go one further! I would fight to defend Israel the shining beacon in the middle east! #defendit”. Some Shining Beacon that.

This ‘mosque’ that Robinson was tweeting about, it later transpires, was this building which we have all seen and heard of. Of course, I will never compare my uncle with the epitome of supreme IQ that is Robinson, but the last time my uncle checked, it was not a mosque, and probably never had been in the 500 years or so of its existence. To my credit, the assumption that it may be about five centuries old was made by me, not my uncle.

The EDL, for those of you who may not know, are a far right group in Britain who openly incite racism, anti-Muslim sentiment, peddle hate and violence against minority communities, and generally indulge in anti-social behaviour. Robinson, in his avid knowledge of the political spectrum, claims that the EDL is not positioned in the far right and never has been. However, Dr. Matthew Goodwin, an expert on the subject suggests that the two salient features of far right groups are that they act in abhorrence of liberal values, and are seen to frown upon human equality – two traits that the EDL has been all but too proud to conceal and exhibit in abundance. Though some grievances of youth who join the EDL are understandable, the vast majority of them are an extended version of football hooligans and are not seen to tow a rational approach, as best illustrated by this fine mate of mine here.

So, back to how Sharia was creeping into Britain. As you’ve probably gathered, Robinson started the #creepingsharia hashtag and hoped to galvanise the British people and get them to join him in highlighting symbols in everyday British life that were emblematic of the fact that Sharia was indeed creeping into British society. And how they highlighted it! Within a matter of hours, #creepingsharia was trending.

Personally, I dislike the word ‘Islamism’ because I think it is a paradox in every sense, but I am using it here in reference to the associations people have made with the term. This tweeter, for example, highlighted how the British weather was succumbing to Islamism when she observed that, “The weather in Britain is always Sunni or Shiite #creepingsharia”.

The NHS has been the centre of many a controversy during  this parliament, what with the Tories trying to implement reforms and Labour attempting to make it the crux of their next election campaign. What was not seen by many, however, was the rapid Islamicisation of the NHS. Many, except this observant tweeter, who tweeted: “Surgeons are forced to wear niqab, an oppressive garment which restricts thinking #creepingsharia”.

What’s more, Islamism has created a case to start using the non-existent word ‘paradoxify’ by even forcefully creeping its way into Christianity, according to this tweeter at least, who stated, “Every time I see a painting/statue of Jesus Christ, he is wearing a beard #creepingsharia”.

As if Sharia hadn’t crept enough into British social life, it was even trying to metamorphosise the set laws of nature as this tweeter (whose profile suggested that she was a woman) observed that, “my facial hair is growing at an alarming rate #creepingsharia”. On a related note, unknown to another tweeter, Sharia had crept in when he mused, “haven’t shaved, consumed alcohol or eaten bacon in at least a week. They’ve got me #creepingsharia.”.

Even the BBC’s Dara O’Brien joined in saying “School of hard sums uses algebra and Arabic #creepingsharia”.

Apart from, “I was stoned last night #creepingsharia”, my personal favourite was, “My wife’s name is Sharon, she is changing it to Maria. #creepingsharia”. Rhymes nicely, too.

Of course this story got wide media coverage that further screwed Robinson’s vicious idea into the ground with The GuardianThe Huffington Post and even the Telegraph giving the story a hearing.

The EDL has been trying to tap into the racist, anti-Muslim tendencies of the general British public – which they are convinced exists. Instead, the vast majority of the British public have clearly shown how much they despise the lunatic fringe that is the EDL. It was indeed heart-warming to witness how well the general British public came to the defence of their fellow British Muslim citizenry, in such gallantry, energy, wit, good humour, (insert suitable word) and no doubt, in fond affection.

This is evidence enough that the British public at their core are a wonderful people, with tendencies which help foster harmonious co-existence with people of all kinds. It is time the EDL, BNP and other far right groups understood the British public and realised that as long as Muslims and other minority groups are hardworking, responsible and conscious citizens who are proud to be British, the EDL and BNP have only so much space to manoeuvre within.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ericdondero

    April 23, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    How is it “racist” to oppose Islamism?  These are the people who murdered 3,000 of our fellow countrymen here in the United States on September 11, 2001.  And another 13 at Ft. Hood years later.  Should we be kind to those who want to kill us?  Use nice little words to describe them.  Appease them.  Give them tax dollars.  Maybe even throw rose pedals at their feet. 

    Hatred for one’s enemy is not “racist.”  It’s called survival. 

  2. Avatar

    Anubis

    April 23, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Hahaa, Brilliant! :)

  3. Avatar

    WaleedAhmed

    April 23, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    This is hilarious! Nothing like good ‘ol british humour 

  4. Avatar

    Sue Bingham

    April 23, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    They’ll never prevail as long as we can all laugh at them together. :-)

  5. Avatar

    Shiva

    April 24, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Actually the building in the picture is The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque  the main Mosque in the Sultanate of Oman.

  6. Avatar

    ML

    May 15, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    Islam is penetrating everywhere. Even on our iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. http://bit.ly/JgcA7w

  7. Avatar

    Quran Learning

    June 11, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    Mosque is a central place for Muslims spreading message of God in Islam religion. It is a place where people come and pray together and united. They speak in front of the world for their purpose. Manahil fatima from Quran Learning school.

  8. Avatar

    s

    June 26, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    salams…just an fyi: a Guardian article noted where the original ‘mosque’ picture is from: it is in fact in Oman. Here’s a link to the actual photo: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/OWeC9t2gqNB/Local+Cricket+In+Muscat

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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Chinese , Muslims, Uyghur, genocide

“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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#Culture

Retire Aladdin To The Ends Of The Earth

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By Jinan Shbat

I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb in Ohio, where I never felt different than the kids in my neighborhood. Sure, my siblings and I had odd-sounding names, and we spoke a second language. But to our neighbors and classmates, we were white, like them. However, that perception changed when I was 11-years-old, when a Disney cartoon movie named “Aladdin,” was released based off of a character created by a French orientalist at the height of Orientalism. At first, my siblings and I were excited because we thought Disney had made a movie that represented us. However, shortly after the movie came out, the questions began.

Are you from Agrabah?

Do you have a magic carpet? Are you going to be married off to someone your parents choose? Do you have outfits like Jasmine?” My head was swarming with all these questions, and I admit, I was intimidated. A little scared, too. I didn’t know how to answer them, and so I just shook my head and walked away.

My parents thought they were doing us a favor by buying the movie and have us watch it anytime other kids came over to play. This just created a larger divide between us, and soon my siblings and I were the “other.” It made me hyper-aware of my brown skin, my visiting foreign grandparents, and my weird-sounding name that no one could ever pronounce correctly. As I grew up, the movie and its racist, Orientalist tropes followed and haunted me. Anytime anyone found out I was Arab, they would ask, “oh, like Aladdin?” I didn’t know how to answer that. Was Aladdin Arab? South Asian, Persian? These were all different ethnicities, yet the movie seemed to be an amalgamation of them all, set in a fiction land I could not identify.

Why is Disney’s Aladdin Harmful?

It may not seem like a big deal to be misidentified in this way, but it is. And these stereotypes that have been present in Hollywood for decades are a huge disservice to our communities- all our communities- because when you misidentify a person’s culture, you are saying that all people of color are interchangeable— which is dehumanizing.

With the new release of the live action version, “Aladdin” is reinforcing the trauma and obstacles we have had to fight for the last 30+ years. The addition of a diversity consulting firm made Disney look good; it showed good faith on their part to receive feedback on the script to try and improve it.

However, issues remain with the original story itself, and no amount of consulting will change that.

Although the Aladdin remake was marked by controversy over Disney “brown-facing” its white cast, and despite original Aladdin’s racist history, last weekend Disney’s live-action version soared to $207.1 million globally. Money experts tell us that the remake success comes from the “power of nostalgia”- that is, the film’s ability to connect with feel-good memories.

The original production is the second highest grossing film project in Disney history. Last weekend, millions flocked to the remake in record numbers, despite critics’ negative and mixed reviews.

The accompanying Aladdin Jr. play is also a major concern, sales of which will skyrocket because of the film. Disney only recently removed the word ‘barbaric’ in its description of Arabs in the opening song. Many more problems abound, but Disney promises through its licensing company, Music Theatre International, to keep the concepts explored in the original production intact.

A Whole New World Needs Less Anti-Muslim Bigotry

From my perspective, as an organizer that fights a huge Islamophobia network in my daily work, it would be a disservice to my work and our community to sit by and allow racist, Islamophobic, orientalist tropes to make their way into our theaters, homes, and schools. What exactly is not a big deal in this movie? The depiction of Arabs and South Asians as one demographic, the storyline of forced marriage, power struggles, a black man playing a genie literally bound by chains to a lamp?

Hollywood’s history of Islamophobia needs to be rectified. There is a plethora of writers, actors and creative minds with alternative positive portrayals of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians. Our consumer appetite must shift to embrace authentic stories and images about people like me.

Aladdin is beyond repair; in its original form, it is problematic. No number of meetings with executives will fix the problems that are still prevalent. It should be retired, indefinitely, and put on the shelf with all the other racist caricatures from Hollywood history.

It’s our duty to speak out- and if you don’t believe we should, then you can choose to stay silent. I cannot.

Jinan Shbat is an organizer in Washington DC.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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