Daily archives: May 9, 2024

The Ignorance of Islamophobia 234

The deluge of Islamophobia on social media unleashed by supporters of the Gaza genocide has been profoundly shocking. It is one reason I am very sorry that Humza Yousaf was forced out as First Minister of Scotland, as he was a particular target and his ousting will have encouraged the bigots.

On Twitter and Facebook I frequently receive comments suggesting that I should go and live in an Islamic country (from people evidently unaware that I have previously), or that I should meet Hamas or the Taliban (from people again unaware that I have previously) who would behead me, or that Muslims wish to kill all non-Muslims.

What strikes me curiously is the sincerity of their Islamophobic beliefs – they really do believe all these things, because they have been imbued with this hate by absorbing years of propaganda in which Muslims are dehumanised.

I want to tell you, and them, a small story. In Pakistan a fortnight ago, I was in Lahore searching for the house of General Allard, where Alexander Burnes spent time. Allard is a fascinating figure but I do not want to digress here from the point of this story.

I did not find Allard’s palatial residence, which has been demolished long ago, but I did find the tomb where he and his daughter were buried. The tomb was attached to the house, and my friend Masood Lohari and I were able to do some urban archaeology, discovering that elements of the palace and its outbuildings had been incorporated into much later structures now on the site.

We were walking around the dense buildings when a man got off his scooter and invited us in to a doorway. Masood told him what we were doing, and he invited us up many winding steps to his attic apartment, where he opened a trapdoor into a roof cavity that revealed a very old structure.

His attic apartment was clean but very sparsely furnished. It had two rooms, in one of which his invalid father lay on a bed. In the other he and his wife had their bed. There were plastic chairs and table and an incongruously large old fridge.

His wife produced dates and nuts and tea and insisted we sit down to drink. The fridge was opened and the entire contents were emptied out for us. There was a delicious half melon, which was diced and put into bowls. A handful of strawberries were crushed and whipped up with the milk. Bread was broken and the very small amount of meat diced and grilled.

We tried to refuse some of the hospitality but plainly to persist in that would have caused enormous offence. It was obvious that this was a household living by western standards in great poverty, but every single bit of food available was cleaned out and given to the guests. Our beaming hosts told us of the blessing they received in providing hospitality to strangers.

The point is, that I have experienced this often in Muslim countries. In my experience, it is typical of the way that Muslim people behave. It is for example a fact that in the UK, Muslims devote a much higher proportion of their income to charity than non-Muslims.

Hate is bred of fear, and fear is bred of ignorance. It is tragic that in developed countries, resources are available for war but not to counter that ignorance.

But of course, the hate is deliberately inculcated as it is required to bolster support for war. From war the Establishment make a great deal of money and foment yet more hatred with which to bolster their authority.



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