Anti-Muslim legislation and propaganda -- particularly that of Geert Wilders -- seems not only to be growing stronger, but is becoming increasingly accepted in the mainstream. Let me tell you why this is not only wrong but, in my opinion, a horrifying mistake.
I originally wrote this post a few weeks ago, but other things came up in between, and I decided not to post until now. Now, it seems particularly timely in light of yesterday's anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death and the rioting and anger now going on in Israel in relation to new construction in East Jerusalem.
My views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are very much in the
middle. Which pretty much means, everyone disagrees with me. Everyone
thinks I side too much with the other side. While many countries stand heavily against Israel in their views and actions, those same countries and leaders don't see any conflict in the anti-Muslim stance they simultaneously hold.
Wilder had initially been banned from the UK for his political stance. The ban has since been repealed, apparently, as he used his latest visit to the UK to continue pushing his Stop Islamatisation message.
Now compare the above film to the following:
What I see? Language like freedom vs takeover. Quoting of scripture as evidence and proof of action. Showing scenes from the lives of the "other" without any real knowledge of context.
"Propaganda," says Richard Alan Nelson in A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States, "is defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages."
I was taught growing up that one of the first signs of the impending Holocaust was the outlawing of Jewish practice. So when I see civilized European countries outlawing Muslim practice, it does not sit well with me.
France is considering making it illegal for women to wear burkas -- a face and head covering -- in public buildings. Switzerland calls the minaret -- the tall, slender turret attached to mosques -- a symbol of Islamic law and not simply of religion and therefore wants to remove them from mosques.Geert Wilders wants to place a ban on head scarves.
Yehuda Avner, who worked with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin among others discusses in the Jerusalem post the nature of such conflicts from his recent book The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership. He quotes Rabin as saying the following:
While a political conflict is possible to solve through negotiation and compromise, there are no solutions to a theological conflict. Then it is jihad - religious war: their God against our God.... Our conflict would go from war to war, and from stalemate to stalemate.
You or I may believe the burka oppresses women or not want to see extreme Islamic law become the guiding moral authority in our hometowns, but what exactly will be accomplished by outlawing personal religious expression? What do we hope to gain?
The propaganda of the past set us on a path to war, death and destruction. Why would it be different this time around?
Coming Soon on The Future Is Red: A photo essay of my time spent on the West Bank.