Islamophobia, By Maithri Goonetilleke

I have become increasingly alarmed at just how deeply entrenched Islamophobic views have become within our culture.

It seems that many of us have stopped seeking to differentiate between the teachings of a religion and the actions of a few extremists or certain governmental/political regimes.

I have often written on these pages that if I have a religion, then it is compassion. My father is a Christian minister and taught us from our birth that true love is boundless and all embracing, that it can never be captured by the cloistered walls of fearful minds and prejudiced thinking.

Throughout my life my Muslim brothers and sisters have taught and continue to teach me so much about loving deeply, living graciously and walking with humility.

So it is absolutely heart breaking to watch these socially conscious, intelligent and gentle people being vilified again and again by those who do not even count a single Muslim person within their circle of acquaintance.

A scholar named Edward Said conceptualized 'the Other'. The other is a construct of the mind, created to divide the world into us and them, east and west, backward and modern, irrational and rational, weak and strong. The 'other' is the person that we are not and so we project onto them all that we loathe about our own selves.

In Said’s paradigm for many 'westerners' (And that term in itself is fraught with prejudice…which would constitute another blog entirely) the 'Other' is Islamic people.

In Australia at the moment and in many parts of the world there is a movement to ban certain types of Muslim dress, such as the burqa. The proponents of these kinds of legislations argue that they are rescuing 'poor oppressed Muslim women' from themselves and their oppressive and backward culture.

I consider myself a gentle person and I try not to waste my time or energy in argument. But I feel strongly that this kind of unmitigated colonialism and searing condescension cannot go unanswered.

The strongest women I know are Muslim, they have their own reasons for wearing hijab, niqab or burqa but in countries like Australia and America it is most definitely not forced upon them. It is a choice. Their choice. Similar to the choice a nun might make to wear a habit, or another woman might make to wear something completely different. Legislating what women can and cannot wear is not only patriarchal, it is in violation of their basic human rights.

It concerns me that in this entire discourse there is one key voice to whom we are not listening, and that is the Muslim voice, moreover when it comes to the debate on dress it is the female Muslim voice which we are ignoring.

As a society which prides itself on how literate and educated we are compared to the rest of the world, I would contend that there are giant gaping holes in our knowledge when it comes to subjects relating to Islam and the role of women in Islamic culture.

We would rather believe the propaganda that we are fed by a fear mongering media than use our own rational minds to sift fact from fiction, demonization from truth.

So friends the purpose of this post is simple, I would like to share with you some wonderful articles, books and videos about the subjects to which we so often only hear one side….

May we all seek to understand before we judge,

It is the only road to peace.
Maithri Goonetilleke is a Sri Lankan-Australian doctor currently working with AIDS patients in Swaziland.

Check Also

Palestinian crisis and the see-no-evil diplomacy of the US by Ameen Izzadeen

The Palestinian crisis should be kept in the public discourse till a just solution is …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Sri lanka Muslims Web Portal

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading