Tag Archive for 'British-Muslims'

Islamophobia vs. Muslim discrimination – perspective of an Italian Muslim

Friends will know that I am uncomfortable with the term “Islamophobia” and try to avoid using it. It seems to me to have become too conflated in popular parlance and different users of the word confuse too many concepts. Whenever anyone uses the term I’m never sure what I mean. Nevertheless I was intrigued to read an interview with Omar Camiletti [IslamOnline.net], Secretary of the Italian Branch of the Muslim World League, which covered the subject.

Camiletti argues that there is a “strong problem of Islamaphobia in Europe”. He fails to define “Islamaphobia” but implies that he talking about fear of Islam (as a religion) itself and argues that this is based on popular misunderstanding of Islam. I’m inclined to accept this but of more interest were his comments on discrimination.

From the article (my emphasis on bold):

IOL: There’s another study … which says that discrimination against Muslims in Europe ranges from verbal threats through to physical attacks on people and property.

Camiletti: This happened especially in England after 2001. I still insist though that Europeans don’t discriminate against Muslims. Moreover, it is the Muslims who have become more racist against Westerners because they feel the clash of civilization.

Woah! That’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons for some readers of this blog.

He goes on:

In England, I heard a Muslim say that all the English are “kuffar” (infidels). This is a person who has sought refuge in the UK and who is being given money from the English government to live. They don’t tolerate that Westerners drink alcohol, and many retain the idea that all Western women are immoral. Do you see the racism? A woman might be exposed because this is the fashion. In a few words, you can explain why you wouldn’t ever go out exposing your bellybutton but you can’t build walls.

Quite right!

Recognising his comments are a sweeping generalization, and accepting that as a proviso, I have to say that I agree with his general point: “Europeans don’t discriminate against Muslims. Moreover, it is the Muslims who have become more racist against Westerners because they [fear] the clash of civilization.”

Now, who’s going to be the first to take a bite? ;-)

Forced marriages cause terrorism?

I’ve not heard yet heard a convincing explanation as to what causes young Muslim men, apparently integrated into British society, to become terrorist nut jobs. But no suggestion I’ve seen has been as bizarre as this one from Hassan Butt.

“A lot of the guys I know actually have become radicalized or initially took the first steps … as a result of them being … forced to marry someone they don’t want to marry,” Butt told CBS.
Their refusal to submit to their parents’ traditions, he noted, drove them toward radical preachers.
He said that the mastermind of London bombings was himself a victim of a forced marriage.

Source: British Muslim Renounces Violence [IslamOnline.net]

Is he serious? As a self-confessed reformed terrorist sympathiser I suppose he has some credibility in coming up with a hypothesis but it does seem rather surreal to me.

On the other hand, I can see the logic in his argument: many immigrant Muslim parents attempt to impose traditions on their children that are at best, cultural and at worst, anti-Islamic, in the name of Islam. When those children rebel, it’s inevitable that they would, at least temporarily, reach for the other extreme. I would have expected that extreme to be Hizb-ut-Tahrir, rather than Al Qaeda, but I guess in some cases they might actually get pushed that far.

The overall picture is almost certainly more complicated than the simple line of argument Butt is quoted as presenting. Nevertheless it may be a line of investigation worthy of scholarship.

The positive aspect of this story, however, is that Butt does appear to have grown up and renounced violence. In doing so he demonstrates that at least some of those nutters are actually capable of finding some sense. I suppose that gives us a small glimmer of hope.