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Sunday June 16, 2024

Creeping hatred

By Editorial Board
January 31, 2023

Europe seems to be having a particularly anti-Muslim moment. Not that the continent was known for ‘tolerating’ religious expression and freedom when it comes to Islam, but recent days have seen an alarming rise in cases of deliberate provocation by individuals looking to unleash their inner hatred and prejudice against Muslims. The latest crime directed against Muslims – which some have called another example of blatant Islamophobia – comes from Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish far-right activist who seems to hold an immense hatred for Muslims and their faith. He had already made headlines this month for having desecrated the Quran in Sweden outside the Turkish embassy.

This is not the first incident of its kind in Europe and going by how European governments and citizens have reacted over the years to such acts this will not change unless there is an effort on the part of governments and rights organizations to understand that cultural and religious differences are a diversity to be celebrated not shunned, mocked, and offended. For a continent which prides itself on equal status for all and on its secular values – which favour freedom and equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender etc – this is such a disappointing comedown.

Apart from the rather complex Nato argument in the case of Sweden – which has been seen as being one of the factors involved in the hate-filled act – there is also a need to look into questions of asylum and immigration and the resentment against people from Muslim countries entering Europe. Ironically, those seeking asylum come from countries that stand ravaged due to the machinations of countries in Europe and the US. There is also the idea of ‘the other’. Muslims, in particular, are seen as somehow not quite the same as those who live in these countries – whether it be the colour of their skin, their language, or their religion. This is a very real problem, making life more and more difficult for Muslims living in Europe and other countries. It also makes the world an uglier place. A conversation about Islamophobia, where the West listens to the voices of Muslims it has treated so badly, needs to begin and it needs to be heard not just in the corridors of power but by all those who have fallen for demagoguery against Muslims and allowed their irrational fear to cloud their judgement.