How to Deal with Islamophobia by Dr. Terry Lacey.Recently, Islamic leaders debated Islamophobia at the 57 nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC "Oh, I see." See digispeak.
(chat) OIC - oh, I see. ), which was held in Senegal . On the agenda was the Jyllands Poster Cartoons, published in Denmark and the proposal of Dutch parliamentarian par·lia·men·tar·i·an
1. One who is expert in parliamentary procedures, rules, or debate.
2. A member of a parliament.
3. , Geert Wilders Geert Wilders (born September 6, 1963 in Venlo) is a Dutch right-wing politician who is best known for his views favoring the restriction of immigration, particularly from non-Western countries, and his criticism of Islam (including banning the Koran). , to make an anti-Muslim film that depicting Islam as a fascist religion. The question arises, is the reaction of the Muslim world The term Muslim world (or Islamic world) has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Muslims, adherents of Islam. This community numbers about 1.5-2 billion people, about one-fourth of the world. towards perceived provocation deserved, or should the Muslim world be making a greater effort to teach out to secular and western societies ?
The Danish cartoon controversy A number of controversies have arisen as the result of the publishing of cartoons in magazines or newspapers:
There is a valid argument made by secularists that being constrained for fear of blasphemy blasphemy, in religion, words or actions that display irreverence toward or contempt for God or that which is held sacred. Blasphemy is regarded as an offense against the community to varying degrees, depending on the extent of the identification of a religion with is an assault on their freedom of expression and a free press. However, this argument has been spun and expanded by some sections that people of faith, even moderates, are politically motivated and want to take away secular society's civil freedoms, bring in religious censorship and ultimately, through never implied by these agitators, impose theocratic the·o·crat
1. A ruler of a theocracy.
2. A believer in theocracy.
Moderates on the other side of the divide also make a reasonable argument that freedom of speech and freedom of expression is not absolute and should not be used as an excuse to defame de·fame
tr.v. de·famed, de·fam·ing, de·fames
1. To damage the reputation, character, or good name of by slander or libel. See Synonyms at malign.
2. Archaic To disgrace. religions or religious symbols. After all, in a number of secular and western countries, including Denmark , flag burning is an offence, and where is the freedom of expression in that ?
The fallout from both extremist stances, as the Egyptian ambassador to Indonesia pointed out in the Jakarta Post, is an upsurge in racism, xenophobia Xenophobia
Chinese rising aimed at ousting foreign interlopers (1900). [Chinese Hist. and discrimination against members of religious communities, and this is happening not just to Muslims.
However, the OIC should certainly be concerned at the rise in Islamophobia. The Muslim community needs to combat this phenomenon by embarking on a public relations exercise Public Relations Exercise is a Leicester, England based Hardcore/Alternative outfit. The energetic 5 piece combine aspects of Screamo and Math Rock styles, layered with penatrative and socially observant vocals. to dispel the image that all Muslims are militantly religious. Growing hostility in both camps reflects the political fall out 9/11 and the mishandling of the war on terrorism Terrorist acts and the threat of Terrorism have occupied the various law enforcement agencies in the U.S. government for many years. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, as amended by the usa patriot act , particularly by President Bush, but it also reflects more fundamentally the growing social and cultural fall out of globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation and migrations. This has provoked a strengthening of right wing political parties in the EU and a hardening of the neo-conservative stance in the US . However, this phenomenon as been matched by rising solidarity between EU liberals and leftists, and Muslim countries and communities against US foreign policy.
The OIC is not seen as a particularly effective organisation in terms of global outreach, especially towards non-Muslim countries, and it will be interesting to see how it follows up the meeting to the growth of Islamapohobia.
A thoughtful and diplomatic approach would be to build a coalition with other faiths, especially Christianity and Judaism Judaism and Christianity while related some ways are distinctly different. Judaism being an Abrahamic religion fundamentally diverges in theology and practice. While Judaism places the emphasis for holiness on the concepts of clean and unclean, Christianity places the emphasis for , its monotheistic cousins. Islam should try to identify common values and sensitivities about religious symbol and make it clear that similar attacks on Christian or Jewish symbols will also to be regarded as offensive. There should be one rule for all, where Muslim rise to defend attacks, such as the Indonesian magazine, Tempo's recent satirical cartoon showing ex-president Suharto as Jesus Christ Jesus Christ: see Jesus.
40 days after Resurrection, ascended into heaven. [N.T.: Acts 1:1–11]
See : Ascension
kind to the poor, forgiving to the sinful. [N.T. at the Last Supper Last Supper, in the New Testament, meal taken by Jesus and his disciples on the eve of the passion. Jesus broke bread and passed a cup of wine among the disciples, identifying himself with the bread and the wine and linking the meal to his impending death on the .
The OIC then should reach out to the secular society and support press freedom and freedom of expression, but ask for some understanding, tact and reasonable limits to its exercise. However, to build this coalition, the OIC would need to be prepared to open dialogue with secular groups and show a high degree of diplomatic skill. Sadly, I predicted this would not happen and we would be served the usual fare of rhetoric and set-piece speeches.
The fundamental weakness of the Muslim call for tolerance and understanding emanates from two sources. First, post 9/11, in secular, western minds there has risen an association between Islam, Muslim culture Muslim culture is a term primarily used in secular academia to describe all cultural practices common to historically Islamic peoples. As the religion of Islam originated in 6th century Arabia, the early forms of Muslim culture were predominantly Arab. and terrorism. Those trying to derive a wedge between the Muslims and the west have vastly exaggerated and simplified the link. The media has lumped under the definitions of terrorism everything from Al-Qaeda, to political and tribal militias, to sectarian factions and local separatist and resistance movements. True, some of these conflicts occur in Muslim nations, but many of the "terrorists" have spent more time fighting each other than the west. It is lazy media and the fact that less than 10 percent of Muslim felt any sympathy or empathy with Islamist movements, militancy or terrorism that is grossly under reported. The fact of the matter is that Muslim countries and societies can be as progressive and democratic as secular and western societies as illustrated by recent elections in Pakistan At the national level, Pakistan elects a bicameral legislature, the Parliament of Pakistan, which consists of a directly-elected National Assembly of Pakistan and a Senate whose members are chosen by elected provincial legislators. and Malaysia , along with earlier elections in Turkey and Indonesia confirming strong trends towards modernization, and Muslim countries increasingly led by non-sectarian, secular and multi cultural parties. However, secular media and western politicians have been burying this in favour of car-bombings and decapitations. The OIC must try to redress this balance.
Second, there is a more fundamental weakness which the OIC and Muslim community must address. There is an explicit lack of social and educational progress and modernization in many Muslim countries, which leads Islam and Muslim culture to be overtly linked to backwardness and underdevelopment. This undermines the attempts of the Muslim community to be taken seriously as a force for modernization and moderation at global level.
Evidence of this argument was clear to see in Indonesia last month, as the southeast Asian nation Noun 1. Asian nation - any one of the nations occupying the Asian continent
country, land, state - the territory occupied by a nation; "he returned to the land of his birth"; "he visited several European countries" hosted the seventh "E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting of Education For All" conference. This meeting emphasized that 70 percent of all of the world illiteracy can be found in just nine countries; Bangladesh , Egypt , Pakistan , Indonesia , Nigeria , India , China , Brazil and Mexico .
The facts are plain to see. Four of the nine are large Muslim countries and two of others have large Muslim populations. The Muslim world remains disproportionately poor and illiterate, despite the skyscrapers in parts of the GCC GCC: see Gulf Cooperation Council.
(compiler, programming) GCC - The GNU Compiler Collection, which currently contains front ends for C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran, Java, and Ada, as well as libraries for these languages (libstdc++, libgcj, etc). .
It is not ritual conflict and Fatwas over cartoons that will improve the world climate for Muslims. It will be its assertion of countervailing power based on growing economic and political strength, and increasing acceptance that being a Muslim can mean being a moderate and modernizer at the same time.
If the OIC wants supports from its own grass roots to help attract more international respect for Islam and its symbols, and for Muslim cultures and communities, then it has to connect better with the economic and social aspirations of the Muslim street. One way is to make better use of Islamic finance to develop the Muslim community's social infrastructure and reduce the gaps between the haves and have nots. This will help provide the mainstream global Muslim community with the leadership that has been sadly lacking and help fill the gas which are otherwise filled by radical groups.
* Dr. Terry Lacey is a development economist based in Jakata , Indonesia .
This article was first published in the March Edition of International Business and Finance.
[c] 2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)