Islamophobia Is No Joke


Source: Patheos


by Zahid Mian

Did you hear about the Mexican who was arrested for saying “hasta la vista”? Apparently someone nearby thought he was an illegal alien robot come to destroy the American dream. What about the Italian man arrested for mob-like activity when he was buying a car and uttered “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”? Or the Arab who was kicked off a plane because he spoke in his native language? Apparently a passenger and crew caught on to his terrorist-like activity when he spoke Arabic. Of course, all but the last incident are false, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a joke,stereotypes are real.

Indeed, when Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was recently removed from a Southwest flight for arousing suspicion by speaking Arabic, it highlighted a heightened fear of Arabs and by extension, Muslims. Officially, Southwest maintains that he was removed because of the content of his conversation, not that he was speaking Arabic. Right, because terrorists always speak in public about their nefarious plans of world destruction, as if there is this deep yearning to start a monologue before committing the crime, like a villain from a Pixar animation for children.

And what exactly did he say that was so disturbing? It was his use of the phrase “InshAllah” or “God willing”, an expression Muslims use without even thinking about it. The expression “God Willing” is used in the Bible (James 4:14-15) in exactly the same context as in the Quran (18:24)—both passages reflect the fact that without God’s help man cannot achieve his task. Jews use the expression “im yirtzeh ha-shem”, meaning, you guessed it, if God wills it. Southwest better be ready if I complain about anyone using such expressions because, you know, it’s about the content.

Despite such distasteful stereotyping critics will argue that Muslims enjoy a much better life here in America than they would in other Muslim countries. No argument there, but is that really the standard we want to adopt? When Malaysia successfully passed a law banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah for God, it was a prime example of politicians gaining favour with hard-line clerics to gain votes. When Pakistan passed a law preventing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from saying Islamic phrases like Assalamo Alakum (peace be upon you) it was yet another example of Muslim leadership currying favour with the far right. Is that really what we want to do in this country?

Now, to be fair, examples like this are rare but what is worrisome is that even in this age of political correctness they are on the rise. Being profiled as a terrorist because you dress a certain way (think Juan Williams’ rant about Muslim garb) or say phrases in a certain language (inshAllah, alhamdolillah, etc) or cover your head like the mother of Jesus did ,should be cause for shame and deep reflection for all citizens. Instead politicians and pathological media personalities have not only condoned such behavior, but encouraged it. InshAllah, I look forward to the day when American Muslims will be able to joke about newcomers to this land. Because, you know, that’s the sign of acceptance. And that’s no joke.

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