Monday, October 01, 2007

"Prejudice is not a joke" by Irfan Yusuf, THE AGE.

THE AUTHOR ARGUES THAT THE MOSLEMS OF TODAY SUFFER THE SAME AS THE JEWS IN EUROPE DID PRE-WW2. Therefore he concludes:
"More unfortunate is the fact that prominent Jewish voices can be found among the chorus of Muslimphobes. Today's targets should be the last to deny the suffering of yesterday's victims. And the survivors of yesterday's crimes should be the last to join in today's lynch mobs."

This may be so from this author's point of view from his moderate Australian experiences. Unfortunately, given the pronouncements of and actions of Islamists the world over, targeting the Jews first and foremost in the most vicious way, it is somewhat disingenious to expect much public sympathy from our Jewish side.

it is a credit to this writer that he does admonish those like Ahmadinejad who attack the Jews.The atrocities in the former Yugoslavia against the Moslems were denounced by all the Jews the world over and quite a few found refuge in Israel among the Jewish population. Similarly the Sudanese refugees who are escaping from Darfur, all the way to refuge in Israel.

But there are Moslems and there Islamists in Arab lands. When the latter will be denounced more frequently by the 'normal' Moslems in the West, than Jews and others will be more inclined to protest Moslemophobia.
Miriam M.
----------------------------------------------------------------


Prejudice is not a joke
Irfan Yusuf
October 1, 2007


Comedy can have a serious purpose. It reminds us of the dangers of forgetting history.

NONE of us can honestly claim to be without prejudice. It's much easier to see people as being defined only by their race, religion or sexual preference, whether actual or presumed. It's much harder to understand people as complex individuals with numerous, often conflicting, layers of identity.

When it comes to exposing and challenging prejudice, humour is often far more effective a tool than passionate opinion articles. Three young Australian Muslims — Mohammed El-Leissy, Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman — are performing Islam-101: Don't Believe The Hype at this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival. They are following the example of Arab and Muslim comics in North America who have performed shows under such titles as Allah Made Me Funny and The Axis of Evil.

On the ABC each week The Chaser's War on Everything lampoons popular perceptions of terrorism and security. In one skit, a Chaser chap dresses up as an American tourist taking video shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge without any security present. He then dresses as a stereotypical Arab, with long beard and chequered kuffiyeh headdress. Security was onto him within minutes.

But not all skits elicit laughter. A recent episode showed their man in the US, Charles Firth, interviewing a sample of everyday Americans. All agreed Muslims should be forced to carry ID cards and even wear special identification badges. Most suggested Muslims should be incarcerated in internment camps. Comedy can be a potent vehicle for exposing uncomfortable truths.

During his recent visit to Australia, Bosnia's mufti charmed Australian audiences with wisecracks about Bosnian villagers and about his experiences of being bossed around by his wife and daughter. But Dr Mustafa Ceric also has a serious message for Westerners of all faiths.

He reminded us that Muslimphobia is reaching such endemic proportions in Europe that he fears a second Holocaust. He compared popular perceptions of Muslims in the West with popular perceptions of Jews in parts of Western Europe in the decades leading up to World War II.

Ceric used the experience of his own people to illustrate his point — more than half a million Bosnian civilians massacred and more than 20,000 women gang-raped, including girls as young as six and women as old as 80. Many atrocities were committed by people against their neighbours, teachers, students and others with whom they otherwise had daily interaction.

What kind of thinking leads to such atrocities? One Bosnian victim, a red-headed 25-year-old married woman, told a Canadian newspaper why she was raped by 15 soldiers: "Because I am a Muslim. Their aim was to humiliate me, to make me lose my honour."

Hence, one can only wonder at the sanity of those Muslims who, like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believe that defending their own necessarily involves denying the historical suffering of others. In yet another year when Ramadan and Yom Kippur coincide, what possible benefit could be gained for Jews or Muslims from Ahmadinejad's remarks?

As American Imam Hamza Yusuf Hanson writes in the US Jewish magazine Tikkun: "Muslims, of all people, should be conscious of this as their religion is predicated on the same epistemological premises as many major events in history, such as the Holocaust. To deny such things is to undermine Islam as an historical event."

Instead of denying the Holocaust, Muslims — and indeed peoples of all faiths and no faith in particular — should study its causes and consequences, especially the rhetorical devices used by political leaders, columnists and commentators in the decades leading up to it.

No two faith traditions are more similar than Islam and Judaism. Both worship a strictly Unitarian God. Both have sacred laws with strict dietary codes and detailed rules governing gender relations. Both insist on their texts being learned and taught in their original languages. Both refuse to deny their Middle Eastern roots.

The reasons used by many Muslimphobes to generate hatred against those deemed Muslim are almost identical to those used to generate hatred against Jews in the decades leading up to the Holocaust. Muslimphobic columnists and bloggers poke fun at Muslim dietary laws and cast aspersions on Muslims by citing out of context verses from the Koran discussing wars.

Eighty years ago, their ideological forebears cast similar aspersions on Jews. Even a cursory study of pre-Holocaust attitudes towards Jews in Europe and the West will show that yesterday's bloodsucking Jewish lenders have been replaced by today's bloodthirsty Islamic terrorists.

In New Matilda last week, Joanna Mendelssohn reminded readers that as recently as 1940, two prominent Sydney newspapers were quite happy to publish the opinions of a notable art critic who claimed modern art was a conspiracy of "the Jew dealers" whose aim was to "corrupt criticism, originate propaganda … and undermine accepted standards so that there should be ample merchandise to handle".

As Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote of the British media last year: "I try to imagine how I would feel if this rainstorm of headlines substituted the word 'Jew' for 'Muslim': Jews creating apartheid, Jews whose strange customs and costume should be banned. I wouldn't just feel frightened. I would be looking for my passport."

Perhaps Freedland is exaggerating. Perhaps Muslimphobia is nowhere near as endemic as anti-Semitism was in the West before World War II. Yet the parallels between the rhetoric and attitudes of yesterday's anti-Semitism and today's Muslimphobia are striking. More unfortunate is the fact that prominent Jewish voices can be found among the chorus of Muslimphobes. Today's targets should be the last to deny the suffering of yesterday's victims. And the survivors of yesterday's crimes should be the last to join in today's lynch mobs.

Irfan Yusuf is an associate editor of AltMuslim.com.


This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/09/30/1191090938861.html

2 comments:

Irfan Yusuf said...

I really pity you. How sad it must be to live in a world where a monolithic "Jewish side" finds itself at loggerheads with a monolithic "Moslem side". Lighten up. Perhaps a few episodes of The Chaser might help.

Miriam M.OR MM said...

Thank you for your comment Yusuf.
I don't have any problems,- but I don't see any more Islamophobia here than anti-Semitism. All I see are the armed guards at all our Jewish Synagogues over our High Holydays, and at all of our schools and Jewish Institutions all the time. It costs our community millions of dollars as well as living in fear of,-who?
I don't think the Moslem community lives in fear of their lives, the way we do.
That does not mean that we don't interact quite frequently with individuals of of all faiths from different parts of the world.
Of course we are not monolithic,- but since you mentioned "prominent" Jewish voices then I assumed you are speaking of the leaderships of "monolythic" communities.

MM