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Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Need to Tread Carefully

In light of my recent post on the banning of veils in France, I thought I would write a follow-up piece on the far reaching consequences of this ban, or potential ban. It is more than just an issue of human rights.

It seems that in Pakistan, Conservative Sunni activism has reemerged in the heart of Pakistan. The Washington Post reports that “In recent weeks, even as conservative Sunnis have targeted Muslim minorities, they have also launched a high-profile campaign against Western European laws and practices that they allege are anti-Muslim. They have held peaceful rallies in downtown Lahore, met with journalists and sent delegations to the provincial legislature. Their movement opposes recent bans on veils in Denmark, a prohibition on new minaret and the republishing of controversial.” 

While I do not seek to address this movement, I do mean to insinuate that these actions by Western governments are forms of discrimination against minority Muslim communities. Moreover, they can potentially feed Islamic extremism.  

"We are against terrorism and the Taliban, and we don't want any conflict with other religions, but the West is playing with our emotions and trying to destroy the peace. They are the real terrorists," said Asim Makhdoom, a cleric from the Jamiat-e-Islami party, who preached against the cartoons and other European actions at a mosque one recent Friday.

"We believe this is the right time for Muslims across Pakistan and around the world to stand up and show they will not tolerate disrespect," Khalid Hafiz, a political adviser to cleric Hafiz Saeed, the spiritual leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said in a recent interview; the group is affiliated with the anti-Indian insurgent militia known as Lashkar-e-Taiba and was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and banned by Pakistan several years ago.

According to the Washington Post, “In raising alarms against anti-Muslim discrimination abroad, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its allies have chosen a distant cause that resonates with Pakistanis nationwide. People here were outraged when a Danish newspaper first published the offending cartoons several years ago, and a TV talk show recently featured two veiled women calling for European governments to "respect civil liberties" and curb "Islamophobia”.”

There is a need to tread carefully.  


J said...

I definitely agree that there must be greater attention paid to the ways that people respond to Islam in countries such as those of Europe. With growing Muslim populations and growing fear of Europeans of the threat of extremism and terrorism, sensitivity must look both ways. People should not be afraid of their neighbors and neither should any feel discriminated against based on their religion or ethnic background. How countries deal with this issue could either create larger understanding and tolerance, or could give more power to the manipulative rhetoric of us v. them.

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