So it turns out I’m Islamophobic. God DAMMIT! And I had such a hip track record. I’m pro choice, gay marriage and affirmative action, and anti racism, death penalty and moustaches. I used to take pride in the fact that I could walk into any room and out-lefty anyone who happened to be there. Well not any more.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying I’m Islamophobic in that proud, sarcastic way most people say “I am a racist”.
Type that phrase into Google and your first result should be this little gem, in which the writer claims to be a racist, then sets out to prove she’s not racist by complaining about blacks. Seriously. It’s about as jaw-droppingly insulting as being assaulted by a naked hobo who tries to beat you to death with your own pet.
But no. I’m not being sarcastic, or proud. Actually, I’m a bit ashamed. But I am Islamophobic which, according to dictionary.com, is a “hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture”. I’m relieved to say that for me it’s fear, not hatred, but I honestly don’t know how long that will last.
Why? Well, let’s start off with this scary Muslim guy. Eek! He looks like Skeletor in a Santa beard. Now read the story. Hm, it turns out that he’s the highly influential Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who earlier this year authorised Muslim men to marry girls as young as 10 years old.
Now click on this story about an Iranian MP’s move to drop the age limit to nine years old, complete with an even creepier photo of a (literally) filthy old man and his child bride. And just in case your cultural sensitivity has so far prevented you from feeling saddened, outraged and completely freaked out by this, let’s play again.
Click here to read about the 17 Afghans who were beheaded by the Taliban for going to a mixed-sex party. And here’s a story about the Pakistan parliament rejecting a bill to strengthen laws against honour killings (or ‘honourcide’, as it’s sometimes called) because it was “un-Islamic”.
Or try this one about a Saudi woman who was gang-raped, then sentenced to 90 lashes under the country’s Islamic Sharia law for a meeting a man who was not her relative. Note that these examples are all the actions of people in power; not individual crazies who murder their families or mutilate children’s genitals because they don’t understand their own religion.
I could go on for a few parsecs, but let’s just assume we all get the idea before someone slits their wrists.
But here’s the thing: none of these stories, and the many others like it, led me to Islamophobia. Come on, that would be unfair. There’s not a single religion in the world without more than their share of psychotic zealots out to destroy any good that might have been in their faiths. You can’t judge the masses of an entire religion by the actions of the few.
So let’s be fair and judge the masses of ordinary, decent Muslims by their own actions.
Which is very little – unless you count the deafening silence.
Sure, there are exceptions. Reformist Muslim Irshad Manji is the founder of the Moral Courage Project, which is as brave and awesome as it sounds. And occasionally you might stumble across a Facebook or Twitter post from Muslims condemning atrocities committed in the name of their faith.
But as I said, these are exceptions.
Is it unreasonable for the non-Muslim world to expect a little more from about two billion people? That’s over 28% of the world’s population. Muslims could organise the mother of all protest actions, if they wanted to.
And until that happens, I’m always going to feel a little frightened of this silent majority. Maybe even resentful.