Discrimination

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Holy Moly. I haven't blogged for 3 days. That's equivalent to 1 week's worth of cybertime or something. Well you should know that I had a very good reason.

I melted in the smouldering heat of Malaysia. Not literally, of course. Although I do think we are facing a heatwave at the moment. Temperatures in Kuala Lumpur have reached 37 degrees celcius and it's not pretty. The moment I step outside the comfort of my air conditioned room, I feel like I'm melting! Ahh global warming, did I hear you say? Perhaps. This may be a surprise to you but global warming has existed since the early 1900s so it's not a recent phenomenon at all. What's different about the 1900s and 2000s is the media coverage of the issue. In fact, there have been reports of former US president, George Bush, trying to ignore the whole thing during his administration.

The media plays a substantial role in the information we receive and it's not right that some get filtered out of the news while others are being brought into the limelight just because political and corporate leaders deem them as newsworthy or not. However, that's just the way things work around here. The media is biased and it will always be biased - whether it is leaning towards the truth or not - because there isn't a single person in the media industry who doesn't have his or her own opinions on a certain topic. Bias is good to a certain extent though. If everyone was objective then we wouldn't be able to hear a variety of opinions and we'd just be going around in circles.

So we hear a lot about propaganda in the media. In the West, Islam and Muslims are outrageously misrepresented by the media. We've all seen it in the news, talk shows and even popular criminal investigation series. When someone mentions the word 'terrorism' I automatically think of 'radical, fascist Muslims' even though I know that terrorism can be applied to all acts of violence, not just ones done by apparent Muslims as terrorism fundamentally means to instill fear in others. See, that's the power of propaganda in the media. It creates links in our minds that are almost like chains holding us down to stereotypes and false representations.

Therefore when Islamophobia occurs and non-Muslims don't understand Islam as they should we can't completely blame them. But what's more powerful? The media or your ability to use your mind and think for yourselves? At the moment, there is a case in France whereby politicians and consumers are suing a fast food chain called Quick for providing a 100% Halal menu in 8 out of 350 of its nationwide outlets. They are calling it discrimination because anything pork-related isn't available in these select few branches that are located in areas heavily-populated by Muslims. Y'know, I'm kind of hoping that they win the case because then Muslims all over the world can start suing McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and what not, for discrimination too! How many times have you travelled to other countries and felt so disappointed when you find out the only thing you can eat at McD's is the fillet-o-fish or the vege wrap? That's discrimination ya'll. If France thinks being secular is the best solution to promote equality and equity then why are they being all xenophobic and Eurocentric?

My guess is because their leaders and media tell them anything Islamic is to be feared. Hm, doesn't that sound like a form of terrorism to you? A very subtle one though. Just like global warming, Islam and Muslims have been around for a very long time. Instead of getting freaked out you have all the reasons to understand Islam pretty well by now. Yes, a number of Muslims have committed atrocious terrorist acts but I think the rest of the 2 billion or so Muslims around the world can vouch that what they did wasn't Islamic at all. The only people who go around killing innocent people are those who have a few wires loose up there. There's no religion in the world that encourages people to harm helpless, innocent citizens. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

I'm not telling you to not trust the media... I'm just saying that it's not a bad thing to question and wonder why certain issues are highlighted in the media. With different Presidents or Prime Ministers you'll notice that many of the new pieces or articles are leaning towards a certain way. Many media channels are government owned and controlled and they usually have an agenda or reason to withhold certain information from the public. Usually their aim is to maintain peace but sometimes it can be more than that. Educate yourself about things you don't quite understand. Muslims and non-Muslims, if something about Islam (or anything else for that matter) boggles you, try approaching someone whom you think may have knowledge about it... whether it may be a friend or a scholar. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth. Like what this airport security lady at Auckland airport should do...

Airport security lady: Ma'am, I'm going to have to check your bags. Please step aside.
Mum: Ok, sure.
*My mum was pulled aside and her bags were scanned for traces of explosive material*
Me: You're just checking her and her bags because she wears the headscarf.
Airport security lady: Standard procedures, that's all.
Me: I'm a Muslim too. Why didn't you pull me aside? Why aren't you going through my bags? I pray and fast just like her. The only difference is that I don't cover my hair.
Airport security lady: *smiling cynically* Are you feeling left out? Shall I check your bags then?
Me: No. I'm just saying that you judged her because of something you don't even understand. *feeling pretty annoyed* For all you know that lady over could be a terrorist. Anyone could be a terrorist or Muslim, not just Middle Easterns, Asians or South Asians. Yet you choose to discriminate those who LOOK Muslim enough to you.
Airport security lady: I'm just doing my job.
Me: Well maybe you should try educating yourself before you do your job.

Okay I didn't say that last line but I wish I did! My Mum was already glaring at me for being annoying so I walked away.

EDIT: In other words, FAITH = DANGER. A Muslim woman who wears the headscarf / hijab is a threat because she displays a higher level of faith. It's ironic because in Islam, a religious or pious person is actually a trustworthy person who is unlikely to harm another person. In fact, he or she would most likely be an advocate of peace and justice. That's all I want non-Muslims to understand, is that too much to ask for?

8 comments:

Texan in UAE said...

ugh! so annoying!!! with the bag checking. They do it cause we cover. That's it! subhana'Allah! Your pretty bold, I like that. Your like me. When I lived in the west, i was very vocal. Ufff. They need to pick up the Quran or a book explaining what Islam is.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I don't think picking up a book and educating themselves would matter. They work based on Profiling for the stereotype. If you look like the stereotype you will be checked. For women it means wearing the scarf or niqab, or burqa, for men it means wearing the long beard, head covering, or traditional clothing of the middle eastern cultures.

Profiling is a big debate right now in America.. Should we profile? Black people in America can tell you allll about profiling because it is what the police here do to them.. Profiling of Muslims has gotten to the point where they want to check anyone who has even a Muslim sounding name!

Anyways, some people are for profiling because they say it is Muslims that are the majority terrorists, while those against it say you cannot generalize an entire people just because of a few nutcases..

I definitely am on the side of not profiling, I think it is ignorant and will not stop terrorism.. If people who want to cause harm know what they are being profiled for, they will obviously make sure they don't fit the stereotype, plain and simple.

Profiling does not work, just look at that African kid who was able to sneak an explosive on a plane to Detroit.

Although I am against it, I think people for the most part function on generalizations...
Sad, but real.

There is no way to stop terrorism but to reduce it would be to stop oppressing peoples, instead of only enforcing further oppression and further discrimination. All that does is punish the innocent people, in the same way terrorism ultimately punishes the entire Muslim population.

alyaa said...

you actually said that?
wow! kudos!
i wish could be brave enough to do that.

Chloe Inga Designs said...

I'm impressed! I always get pulled over for 'random security checks' at the airports too; my dad said I should ask if they can stand still for a photo, and tell them Im making a photo album just of my security checks in airports!

TweetyBird said...

Sha, i get that a lot too. Annoying kan i hate these kind f peopl kay, seriously.
People here in UK, they dont like chinese.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Texan in UAE: It wasn't the first time it happened to my family. Every single time they tell us we've been 'randomly selected'. I think I wouldn't feel so insulted if they were just honest about it. C'mon, we're Muslims not morons!

Sarah: I think educating themselves would help them improve their manners. The worst airport security people I've faced were in Australia. Fine, thoroughly check us if you must but at least treat us with some respect. I'm totally against profiling too. I guess they think it gives them leads but... nah, not always the case. Just like that Nigerian guy you mentioned. You know what? The funny thing is his family already warned the US govt that he's a possible threat because he's been involved in some suspicious group.

Alyaa: Happened to us a few times so I guess I lost my patience and felt I needed to say something.

Chloe: See! And you look and sound completely NZ European except you wear the hijab thus you represent Islam.

Nona: The Brits don't like the Chinese? But you're not Chinese... I guess South East Asians look Chinese to them!

hispanic muslimah said...

I'm sorry Sha :(
I'm proud of you for speaking up even though the lady seemed not to care.
You should check your national transportation security regulations.

I checked the United States regulations & found the following:
"All members of the traveling public are permitted to wear head coverings (whether religious or not) through the security checkpoints. The new standard procedures subject all persons wearing head coverings to the possibility of additional security screening, which may include a pat-down search of the head covering. Individuals may be referred for additional screening if the security officer cannot reasonably determine that the head area is free of a detectable threat item. If the issue cannot be resolved through a pat-down search, the individual will be offered the opportunity to remove the head covering in a private screening area."
"You are permitted to wear loose fitting or religious garments during the screening process. You may be directed to additional screening if your clothing (religious or otherwise) is loose fitting or large enough to hide prohibited items. If you are directed by the security officer to proceed to additional screening, then you will undergo a combination of hand-wand screening and/or pat-down inspections that could include any portion of the body and head area that requires further examination."

At any time during the screening process, you may request that screening of your person or property take place in a private screening area. It is our policy that passengers should be screened by a Security Officer of the same gender."

mint.fresh.muslim said...

Good on you for trying to educate the silly woman on her silly behaviour! :-) Although I doubt anything would have sunk into her rotten thinking, but still at least you did your bit and spoke out.