We are often caught up with our own lives. Attempting to understand how others see the world is frequently near-on impossible, but we should try, particularly when it comes to societal racism.
Since 2001 increasing hatred and loathing has been directed towards Muslims. Political opportunists, such as the English Defence League, have tried to exploit the prevailing xenophobic climate in Britain and incite racial hatred.
Every day in Britain Muslims suffer racism. From verbal abuse to physical attacks. On-line animosity towards Muslims is stoked up daily by racists and semi-professional bigots. On-line activities have real world consequences as the site, EDL Criminals has shown time and again.
The real lives of real people in Britain are blighted by racism, yet these facts receive scant coverage in the Oxbridge dominated media. There are a few lines here or there, but little real investigation.
However, there is no shortage of informed commentary on Islamophobia or its negative consequences:
One academic report details how the Far Right and extremists exploit negative sentiment towards Muslims.
Another scholarly paper looked at the impact of racism towards Muslim women.
The new government report on extremism has been welcomed by Tell MAMA, but highlights the complexities of these issues (I paraphrase):
- It is very important to have a subtle approach to this topic and a dire need to tackle extremists who promote hatred towards communities.
- Greater use of pastoral care should be made in prisons, etc, helping people in the most vulnerable of positions and playing a role in countering extremism.
- On-line extremism is an unfortunate reality and in the Internet age we have to acknowledge this fact.
- Extremism is often stoked up by international events, e.g in Syria or Middle East. We must ensure that whole communities, British Muslims, etc. are not blamed, labelled or isolated as a result.
- Getting the balance is tricky, previous Governments talking tough simply fuelled isolation and helped extremist groups, like Al-Muhajiroun.
- The new position by HMG is far more informed and nuanced, it should be welcomed.
A Societal Issue and The Independent
A piece in the Independent seems to have grasp the headline of this issue but not the subtleties, as expressed above, and:
In society we need to admit that anti-Muslim prejudice is quite widespread. That such reports can lead to a flare up of on-line hate against Muslims and cause more problems.
We should accept that anti-Muslim prejudice has to be tackled.
It is wrong to blame whole or part of communities as it further exasperates extremism, increasing societal disconnect and isolation. Such an approach aids the extremists, be they the EDL or Al-Muhajiroun.
We need to take care on these issues, racism, whatever its forms should not be encouraged.