A day to hate Muslims!

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Some time ago, a disturbing letter came to my WhatsApp account, sent by someone from the many groups I am in, calling to hurt a Muslim on April 3 in England and that momentarily upset me, but I rolled onto another message quickly after a glance. Like the many fake messages I receive from many groups and friends, I thought that this too was another one of them making the rounds.

But a nagging feeling made me send this message to a friend of mine who lives in England, asking if this was true. He swiftly answered confirming the existence of the message and that it is being widely circulated in England and he and many of his friends were seriously concerned.

The message in the letter is asking citizens in that country to act and stop being sheep. The message went on to say, those who will act would be rewarded with points for their actions. The points start for verbally abusing a Muslim and goes all the way up to bombing a mosque or nuking Makkah in an unseemingly vitriolic system.

The viral hate message has sparked a quick probe by the British authorities for the perpetrators of this message and the cowardly, underground group that is using modern tech tools to spread hate and dissension. According to news, “Britain's counter-terrorism police are investigating several letters calling for violence against Muslims on a "punish a Muslim" day.

Talking to media, Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said, “Sadly, it is reflective of hate against Muslims which continues to manifest itself alongside the rise of the far right. Our elected officials need to stand up and take action against Islamophobia in the same way they have taken action to counter bigotry against other groups.”

This campaign against Muslims communities living in the West is not the first one and definitely it will not be the last. In a society hosting a diverse community, hiccups between people are a constant. But when it becomes a targeted assault, in every which way, on any community then it takes a dangerous tenor that can be ignored at one’s own peril. For harmony and growth will be the first casualty in this directed hate mongering.

The attacks on mosques and writing racial words on its walls and trashing the mosques from inside are not going to stop as long as the language of hate and instigating hatred against minorities continues. Only statistics of attacks and assault against minorities, especially Muslims, can show how serious this problem is, and how deep the antipathy is.

Hate mongers argue that their country will be taken away from them by these ‘foreign inferiors’ and they speak openly about the danger of Islam as a religion to their countries and how slowly it is growing and might be the dominant religion in the decades to come.

Hate mongers do not acknowledge or care about the role migrant people from South Asian and other countries played in the development of England. When the numbers were needed to stoke Britain’s growth, then all were welcomed and embraced. But as soon as the ‘foreigner’ with British nationality began outstripping the ‘locals’ in education, jobs and businesses the societal acceptance turned into reluctance welcome before turning into open hatred for those there amid a closed door policy for new immigrants.

There have been instances in the past and after each tragedy, society is divided into two groups. Those who are easily influenced by TV and hate messages and are driven by emotions while the other group has people that is listening to the voice of common sense and separate people from the main issue. Also with the spread of hate limited to a locality, the incidents, that erupted occasionally, could be monitored and controlled effectively.

But in this technologically-connected world, one of the major downside is, that it allows hate messages to cross boundaries instantly, and a spark that could have been started in any city in the world could burn or become incendiary in a different global city, for the want of confirmation of its authenticity.

People react with their hearts, and any message that castigates their religion or community is enough for many of them to see red. It is this knee-jerk reaction of people that allows for these spiteful people to achieve their ends.

Though in this technologically-advanced world, the basic brick-and-mortar solutions of community groups everywhere are part of the answer to this hate problem. The community needs to resort to its adults and youth to build a bulwark of saneness against this growing insanity.

I have seen in my studying days in America, community groups not only doing charity work, but act as an extension in society to provide understanding of the others in the society with concrete actions.

The groups called on their own community to set a good example by showing respect for others through actions, attitudes, and remarks. They would organize forums to examine possible sources of bigotry and hate violence in the community and brainstorm preventive actions. They would work with the law enforcement authorities and also raise public awareness that bias-motivated incidents are crimes and should be reported to law enforcement.

It did not stop there because young people were asked to pitch in with a conflict resolution program in their school. Also the children were groomed to be nice to others, reject stereotypes and report incidents of discrimination and educated to be aware of bias along with community outreach programs to share anti-violence messages.

However, over the decades I have left the US to work here, I’ve seen a systematic erosion of these community efforts, with apathy toward others now a growing trend globally. But it is high time that all of us, as a people of this globe, got back on the track of sanity to quell the growing insanity.

In a previous article I wrote many months back, and it stated, “To the haters of Islam we will say that we are not going to defend our religion because Islam is not accused and is innocent of all claims of hate. What is needed is for such haters to learn the true message of Islam, as a peaceful religion, as a religion of tolerance, compassion and mercy. Their hearts and minds should be open to learn the truth about Islam rather than blindingly believing what is told to them by a hate-mongering media. At the end, hate voices should not be given a platform to express their hateful ideologies.”

— The writer can be reached at mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng


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