Sunday, April 30, 2006

Views on Muslims in The America

Dallas, Texas, April 2000

I am not an expert on this topic because I do not live in The America and I have not made it a point to research the views of Americans towards Muslims. I have, however, recently made a couple of observations that have troubled me.

The first observation has to do with the views of our own Anonymous A-hole. Asshole seems to lump all Muslims together into one group that can be defined as terrorists and supporters of terrorism. I give you as evidence his comments on my post of 23 April. Asshole, I know I don’t need to say this because you need no encouragement, but please correct me if I am wrong.

Then on Friday I spent the evening with friends of my parents whom I had never before met. They were interesting people and liked to drink and were really good fun, but certain comments that they made troubled me. They had just come from Paris where the Muslim presence is visible – darker-skinned people, hijabs, etc. They asked me if there were Muslims in Prague. I answered that there were, but not nearly so many as in Paris. Their comments then about Muslims in Paris, and Muslims in general, were all negative. In fact, worse than negative.

The fact that we were sitting in a synagogue while they made these comments was not lost on me. Go back in time 70 years and we could have been sitting in a church in Germany talking about Jews.

The couple I was with are contemporaries of my parents, well-educated, well-travelled, cultured, cosmopolitan professionals. The thought that troubles me is that if they are thinking that way about an entire group of people, what are the people in small towns in middle America thinking? Is this the current trend in America – to think of Muslims as bad people? As a liability to society because of their religious beliefs and their cultures?

I hope people in The America can tell me that I am wrong, that this couple from LA were an anomaly. But I have to ask, what ever happened to taking each person as an individual based on their own words and actions? What has happened to live and let live? Respecting other people’s religious beliefs? And innocent until proven guilty?

I am aware that multiculturalism is a bit of a myth, that while 100 cultures may be represented in a city like Paris, London or LA, people tend to stick to their own kind and not really mix that much. But to go that much further to cultivate thoughts and beliefs that entire groups of people are bad is sickeningly dangerous.

And having picked on The America, I should also say that some places in Europe are going in the same direction.

Next episode: serious Jew-bashing if (when) Iran is attacked, whether by Israel or the US – it won’t matter.


AG said...

Max, what can you expect with all the fear mongering that's going on in the States right now. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran: Terror, fear, hostilities, all associated. The price of gas - it's all the fault of the arabs, that's why we must drill in Alaska - and, oh, by the way, we'll give everyone in America $100 to help pay for the high price of gas. Gimme a break. Smoke, mirrors and fear mongering. Sluts, all of them.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

The situation is not at all helped by the fact that CAIR, MSA, MPAC, MAS, all purported "moderate" Muslim groups, are known to be radical Islamic front groups.

Now, does this mean that I wouldn't judge an individual Muslim on the merits of their own words and actions? No, not at all. I'm a reasonable human being (despite what others might infer from my political views).

The real problem is that these individual, "mainstream," Muslims are so much the minority as to have had their voice(s) absolutely drowned out. I'm listening...they're not speaking (or writing).

Is Hillel a front group for militant action? Hardly. So why is MSA (Muslim Student Association)? Did Jews openly ostracize Irv Rubin? They absolutely did. So where is the Muslim equivalent?

The Muslim equivalent is filled with buts..."but Israel," "but U.S. foreign policy," etc.

Are synagogues all over the U.S. turning out to be radical, militant, fronts? Are leading rabbis proving to be violent criminals? No.

So why is this happening so often with U.S. mosques? The easy answer is, of course, that it is simply the result of a witch hunt of some type. The more reasonable response, and deduction, is that "mainstream" Muslims are far, far, far, more receptive to jihad and wahabi ideaology than any reasonable, "progressive," benevolent person would care to admit.

Comparing Jews and Muslims is disengenuous, especially as the leader of the most powerful Muslim country in the world speaks openly about genocide (or, as he likes to call it, "the real holocaust") against Jews. The more apt comparison is of Jews to Jews. In many ways, nothing has changed.

I'm just not buying any of it. I have no idea what the common U.S. mindset is in regard to Muslims. I do know that the more one learns about Muslim-American "moderate" groups, however, the more one realizes that there are very legitimate concerns. In fact, the more one learns about this purported "religion of peace," the more one sees that there is little hope for peace between Muslims and any other group not willing to assume some state of dhimmitude. By definition, Islam treats all "non-believers" (the politically correct term for "infidels") as people to be conquered/controlled.

And this is exactly what is happening throughout western Europe, as Muslims flex their muscles to find exactly how much control they can take. Look at the Netherlands, look at France, and ask their people and governments what they now think about their forward thinking policies in regard to their Muslim populace.

I, for one, will not be fooled. Dearborn, Michigan, for instance, is not fooling me.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

Yes, those poor Arabs.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

Out of curiousity, what's the Muslim presence like in Czech?

Anonymous A-Hole said...

The Scandinavian countries are great examples of peaceful Muslim assimilation because of fair and equal treatment. Perhaps I should look to them as the model.

Oh, no, wait...

Anonymous A-Hole said...

Yes, "sluts" and "fear-mongering." That's it.

Monkey's Max said...

Asshole, in answer to your question about Muslims in Czech (edited by Max only to correct poor English and to add small details):

A 1912 law recognized Islam as a "state religion" and officially allowed its presence in the region. The first Muslim community (Moslimské náboženské obce pro Československo - the Muslim Religious Community of Czechoslovakia) was established in 1934. In 1949, under Communism, that registration was abolished. An attempt to set up a new community in 1968 (during Prague Spring) failed. In 1991 the Central Bureau of Muslim Communities (Ústředí muslimských náboženských obcí) was established. In 1998 the first mosque was opened in Brno and another a year later in Prague. Attempts to open mosques in a couple of other cities were stopped by local citizens. In 2004 Islam was officially registered: the community is thus eligible to obtain funds from the state.

The estimated number of Muslims today in the Czech Republic is over 10,000, of which cca 2,000 are active. The number greatly increased in the 1990s (War in Yugoslavia) and has kept stable since then.

The majority of Muslims are refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina (early 1990s) and former countries of the Soviet Union (mostly from the Caucasus region, late 1990s until now). A significant and influential part of the community are middle-class people of Egyptian, Syrian and other Middle Eastern ancestries (typically those who studied in Czechoslovakia and decided to stay). A few hundred Muslims are Czech converts (typically wives of Muslims).

The community concentrates on religious life and education. Differences between Sunni and Shi'a are not apparent. No political party or group based on Islam has been set up.

Most Czechs have not met a single Muslim in their lives. The Czech media typically present Islam as something exotic and dangerous, but fortunately far away. It is typical of a Czech citizen to hold the same view.

Previously unknown islamophobia arose after reports of terrorism in the Middle East and the Prophet drawings-related riots. No violent incidents or terror attacks have occurred, and Islam is not a topic of political debate.


Monkey's Max said...

In addition, I see visible Muslims (i.e. in hijab) fairly regularly although not every day, and I know a fair few through my work, e.g. a good friend from my days at Xerox who is a British Muslim and still lives here (married to a Czech who did not convert and fairly non-religious) and some of my former students who were Bosnian refugees and another Bosnian refugee friend who has since moved to the US.

I knew there was a mosque in Prague but I don't know where it is.

Monkey's Max said...

Just out of interest, I looked up where the mosque is, and it is way out in Prague 9 near the end of one of the metro lines (Černý most - for those who know Prague).

There are 5 additional prayer rooms in Prague, 2 in the centre (near the main post office) and 3 in student dormitories in Prague 6 and Prague 8.

The other places of prayer listed in the Muslim information pages for the Czech Republic are the mosque in Brno, student dormitories in Hradec Králové, Liberec, Olomouc and Plzeň, the Islamic Centre in Teplice (near Ústi nad Labem, and one of the places where Muslims were not allowed to build a mosque), and two prayer rooms which are for spa guests only in Dubí and Lázně Darkov. There is also a prayer room in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The two Czech Muslim information sites I have found (linked to each other) are in Czech only, with no other language option, which indicates to me that they are primarily aimed at Muslims of Slavic origin. That is not to say that there are not other sites in Arabic or any other language, these just happen to be the ones I found through a Czech search engine and searching in Czech.

Anonymous said...

The hijab was initially worn by Muslim women to cover up their beauty in public because only their husbands are allowed to see their beauty. I would have to look it up but I am sure it's not religious.
I have noticed an increase of Muslims since I have been back to Montreal. I have a problem when a truck driver shik making a stink about the fact that a) because they have to wear a uniform to be a mounty, they can't fit the hat over their turban and therefore refuse to wear a hat. B) being a truck driver they are asked for safety reasons to wear a hard hat when delivering goods to shipping yards, and they make a stink about it. If you are required to wear a uniform, wear the uniform! I went to private school and I couldn't dye my hair blue, girls who had mohawks had to come to school in a wig. My friend argues that banning the hijab in school is like banning kids from wearing a cross. In my mind the gold cross is small, if it's huge like a yo yo bling bling hip hopper then no you can't wear one. A small one can be hidden but yes a hijab is not part of the required uniform. I have no problem with muslim women who want to wear a hijab or a black (I forget the name) dress from head to toe. It's their choice.
My mother isn't keen on them because she argues that as immigrants from the Czech Republic my dad and her came to Canada not asking for anything and making an effort to integrate, she finds that muslims don't make an effort to integrate.
I was waiting for the bus one night and noticed that a muslim looking man was waiting outside the arabic corner store in his mercedes, his wife came out dragging 5 bags of groceries and put them in the trunk. Her husband never got out to help her. I was appahled. Though, I often see this behaviour from many men.
Most Canadians do not see muslims or islams as dangerous terrorists. There isn't a sense of paranoia like there is in the US. We just don't appreciate them trying to implement the Sharia law into Canadian law and causing a stink of not being able to wear a hijab with their mounty uniform. Though recently in Montreal, a Shik high school student won his right in court to wear his knife, as a symbol of religion, to school. I am opposed to that. Not in fear that the shik student would harm someone with it but that perhaps someone could grab it from him and harm others. It's a knife and I consider it carrying a weapon.
I read a great book about Muslim women called 9 parts of Desire. It's from an Oz/Canadian journalist's point of view. I remember there was a white American women who chose to live in Iran with her muslim family because she found their values to be deeper than her American family's and that the muslim family is more tight knit. She had similar arguments that Max has in her blog below on why she choses to live in the Czech Republic, about the commercialism and expectations etc...
Thanks Max for the information on Muslims in the Czech Republic. Very interesting.

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