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Avoiding Islamophobia

Mon 29 Aug 2005 In: Comment

Are we oversimplifying Islamic political and social attitudes, and might this backfire on our communities? The London bombings have led to potential for misunderstanding, fed by the far right and gutter tabloid media. Indeed, Britain and Australia might well have suffered because of past toleration of the likes of the British National Party and Pauline Hanson's One Nation, as well as immigration and asylum seeker policies. These perpetrators of organised racist (and homophobic) violence may have contributed to a siege mentality within some British South Asian Muslim immigrant communities. As a consequence, dissaffected and alienated urban youth might well turn to hardline Sunni Islamic fundamentalist faith to reject an apparently hostile Western racist and imperialist worldview. Not all Muslims agree with these groups. As with Christianity, Islam is a world faith, which is divided along Sunni/Shia denominational lines, as well as degrees of reconcliation with democratic, monarchical and tribalist societies, which mean that it makes more sense to talk about Islams. In the case of Western Islam, some Muslim groups do lobby for subsidies for their own religious venues, educational facilities and community welfare organisations, and have had some success in doing so. Yes, some radical Muslim Right organisations are homophobic. In the United Kingdom, al Muhajiroun is one of the more militant, openly supports al Qaeda, praised the September 11 2001 destruction of New York's World Trade Centre, and has an antagonistic relationship with the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain, which deplores its radicalism and wants it banned. For that matter, it has also harrassed activists associated with al Fatiha, the LGBT Muslim network. However, note the existence of al Fatiha itself, as a specific organisation for LGBT Muslims. In Canada, the Muslim Canadian Congress emerged to support same-sex marriage, and supported South Asian LGBT Muslim community members against Muslim Right elements within their communities. Let's not pretend that Islam is a monolith, or subscribe to Winston Peter's hatemongering drivel about 'clashes of civilisations' or 'enemies within.' Twenty years ago, we were similarly targeted. Al Muhajiroun is an extremist organisation, but is as representative of all Muslims as Garnet Milne or theonomists are when it comes to mainstream Christians. It is indicative of far right ideologies that they try to homogenise and demonise sexual, ethnic and religious minorities, and turn them into stigmatised pariah groups. We must never succumb to that same temptation ourselves. Recommended: International LGBT Muslim network Prospect Magazine UK: See August 2005 edition for responses to the London bombing. Craig Young - 29th August 2005    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Monday, 29th August 2005 - 12:00pm

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