21 September, 2014

The Circle of Hate

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Category: European Action Day, Islamophobia, Peace, Political hate speech
Cristina Mancigotti
10 am

action day against Islamophobia and religious intolerance

 

I converted to Islam in 2009. Before that day I felt like a real integrated part of the society, I had plenty with friends and I felt that my life were on its peak. I just lacked the spiritual feeling of having a purpose in my heart.

The day I changed my religion was also the day my entire life turned upside down. I started receiving death threats from the far right movements in Norway, my parents would not speak to me for the first two-three months and all my friends turned their backs on me. It was like hitting a social brick wall at 100 km/h. On the bus, they called me a terrorist, extremist and a traitor. They are sending me death threats and throw me to the wolves and I am the terrorist?

It was as my Norwegian identity just got ripped away. Excluded. It made me angry and it made me frustrated.

At that point I got fascinated by the anti-Western propaganda from the more radical Muslim groups and I felt at home in the enemy pictures they presented me. I mean, I really felt like my religion and I were worth little or anything to the society and I felt that the persecution of Muslims in the mainstream media and by the progressive party in Norway was unjust and unfair.

I was not the only young Muslim with the feeling of being excluded and frown upon by the society I grew up in. It was a constant topic in the mosque and we can see the same all across Europe. We need to understand the mechanics of hate speech and how it contributes to the circle of hate. For me, converting to Islam was a search of belonging and safety, which eventually led me towards an hateful environment.

In order to break the circle of hate we need to address all forms of extreme thoughts and ideas equally. All over Europe we have huge debates about the Islamic State (IS) and local groups sympathizing with them. But, where are the same debates about islamophobia and hate towards Muslims? In Norway even after the brutal terror attacks of 22th July there have been absolutely no debates and no focus on the extreme right wing groups. They are threatening the government, leaving pig heads outside of mosques and sending out death threats to all they dislike.
Why isn’t this seen as equally important to be publicly discussed and tackled politically as the IS-sympathizers? This unbalance creates a distorted picture of Muslims, which makes them feel like having a much larger target on their chest than the rest of the society.

It is not hard to draw the conclusion that the different forms of extreme ideologies have more in common with each other than they have with the people which they claim to represent. Likewise, it is no doubt that peace-loving people have more in common with each other than with those who claim to represent them.

Today is the official European day against Islamophobia and Religious Intolerance and I hope we can work together through Europe to ensure that nobody regardless of religious, cultural or ethnic background have to feel outside of the society.
If we can make all people feel a sense of belonging and a sense of being important to the greater good of our countries we will make it a lot harder for all forms of hatred to grow.

 

Blogpost written by Yousef Assidiq


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