A couple of days ago I posted a blog entry exploring the dangers of worldviews that become absolutist ideologies that are forced on other people. I quoted Islamic extremism as an obvious example.
Since then two newspaper articles have highlighted the danger that the response to this threat falls into the same trap.
The Independent had the headline “Burkini ban: Armed police force woman to remove her clothing on Nice beach“. So, one response to Islamic extremism has been to demand that women expose more flesh in the name of public decency, no matter how they feel about it!
On the same day the Guardian reported on three women forced to leave an aeroplane and be interrogated by armed police because a passenger had falsely reported they were reading ISIS material. The following is an excerpt from the article,
In full view of the passengers on the plane, the trio from north-west London were grilled for an hour by officers, who first asked them: “Do you speak English?”
Maryam, who will begin an English degree at King’s College London later this year, immediately said she, her brother and sister were born and raised in London, as was their mother, and they only spoke English.
Speaking to the Guardian, Maryam said it was clear that she and her sister, a clinical pharmacist at University College London, had been subjected to racial profiling. They were both wearing headscarves at the time.
The women were asked if they had any Arabic text on their phones or copies of the Qur’an. So, it seems it is now suspicious to speak Arabic or read the Qur’an!
It seems that there is a real danger that an intolerance is developing which sees difference as a threat and that a whole community is in danger of being discriminated against in demeaning ways.
In my previous blog entry I argued that the worldview that finds its roots in the Christ who was crucified and espoused by Paul and the early church from the margins of the empire can not be imposed or forced on others. In the face of the emerging hardening of attitudes against the Muslim community those who follow Christ must stand up against the growing prejudice against them.
In the 1950s Niemöller wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Intolerance never stops with one group. May we never have to say similar words about our attitudes to the Muslim community.