Q&A: Is it overblown to describe the Muslim plight in some Western countries as ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Persecution’?

[Facebook Query on profile post 10th July 2015]

In response to an article I re-posted, written by Mehdi Hasan on the experience of the Muslim community since 7/7 in the UK, I was asked a pertinent question by a reader.

Walid Reza asked:

Brother Abdullah al Andalusi, there are millions of Muslims living in UK for a very long time. I think you’re blowing out of proportion how much discrimination affects the general Muslim population. We don’t have to cry victim everyday. Muslims in the West live comfortable, safe, and blessed lives. Most of all, we enjoy religious freedom to practice our religion openly.

I must add, I can truly state that Muslims in the West (US AND UK for the most part) live amongst non-Muslims in harmony and peace. If we weren’t. You wouldn’t be posting on Facebook, you’d be scared to say the things you’re saying.

I understand Muslims around the world suffer at the hands of the oppressors. However we do not and cannot even begin to imagine how hard they have it. Because we live comfortable lives in the West. By saying that we (US or UK) are victims, It is an insult to those who truly suffer and are martyred for their Islam.

Say Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God) brother and appreciate that we partake in this country (well uk for you, USA for me). And make dua (supplication) for those Muslims around the world who truly suffer at the hands of the oppressors.

Response:

Thank you for your comment.

However, we should note, that even Robert Mugabe allows Muslims to pray and openly practice their religion. Being allowed to openly practice your religion SHOULDN’T be a special privilege, it should be a given, a norm, the bare minimum. Persecution or discrimination of a minority doesn’t only look like Burma, there are many lesser forms, for example, how african-americans are treated by the police (and economy) in the U.S.A. As soon as people are denied equal treatment or meted out disproportionate treatment, then this is discrimination (even if not all of the minority experience it). Persecution is defined as being ‘hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs’. Considering that the UK government has declared hostility on certain religious beliefs [1] held by Muslims (which are mainstream and ‘conservative’ if held by other religious groups), and taken a variety of steps (and proposed bans on freedom of expression) against anyone holding those beliefs – it would fit the dictionary definition of ‘persecution’, even if it involved methods much lesser than the spanish inquisition.

Would anyone go to 1950s-1960s USA and tell African-americans that they are blowing things out of proportion, because they ‘ live comfortable, safe, and blessed lives. Most of all, they enjoy religious freedom to practice our religion openly’? Of course not. We should not be happy with scraps offered to us, when we’re denied the full dignity and enforcement of rights offered to everyone else.
I can’t speak for [your experience in] the U.S, but based upon the incidences of Islamophobia and mosque burnings, and the activities of the security agencies and the rhetoric by Western politicians (especially when they call for banning of political dissent using misleadingly vague deliberate perjoratives, such as ‘extremism’) I wouldn’t say Western society is entirely harmonious with Muslims. I say Western society, not non-Muslims. However, as to your main argument, that Muslims have it better here than anywhere else – I disagree. Muslims live freer lives in South American countries, or South Africa, and many east asian states (all these states being majority non-Muslim, which shows that the problem isn’t religion but the mentality of the host society towards its minorities). I’d also add that Muslims are freer in some Western countries, like Ireland and Portugal (so I’m not saying that every Western country treats Muslims discriminatorily), but the UK, France and USA are not the ‘best’, not by a long shot.

As for being able to post things on facebook without fear, that is not the case in the UK, many people have been sent to jail for posting images or writing strongly worded opinions (usually Muslims). In one case, a Muslim discovered the police had profiled him based upon him reposting a link to a website of a non-violent political group (which the police noted made the person unsuitable to work with children. The profile is available to read by any potential employers of that individual).

If you lived in 1950s-1960s U.S., do you think an african-american would agree with you that they should appreciate the U.S. because compared to apartheid South Africa at the time, African-americans ‘live in harmony and peace’ in U.S. society? I doubt it.

Just because someone out there experiences more injustice than you, doesn’t mean you should accept injustice when it occurs to you.

Walid Reza response:

Excellent points, i see your point, discrimination is not just mass riots or killing of a people, i guess these lesser discrimination is more dangerous in a way since it is silent and not so in your face as to make the public complacent.


[1] David Cameron declares that Muslims who believe in the teaching of Muhammed (saaw), are ‘extremists’ whose freedom to believe is ‘not acceptable’ in the UK”We need to recognise that we’re not just fighting terrorism here, we’re also fighting extremism…there are many extremists who fall short of actually condoning terrorism, but they buy into a lot of the narrative of the terrorists [e.g.] they support [belief in a] Caliphate…we have to say in our country, those views while they fall short of condoning terrorism, they’re not acceptable either…We need to do more to help integrate people into our country…there are some organisations and some people…to those people we have got to say, that is not an acceptable view, and we’re not going to engage with people who believe that their ought to be a Caliphate” David Cameron, 29th June 2015, BBC Radio 4



Categories: North America & Muslim communities in the West, POLITICAL ANALYSIS, Queries and Responses, UK. Europe

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