‘Religious Beliefs have Almost Nothing to do with the West’s demonization of Islam’
Activist pledges to not be duped into hatred or misplaced violent thought amidst increasing Islamaphobia
As a Western youth raised without religion in my home, I have been spared the conflict some Western youths feel in regards to loyalty to their faith. As someone who identifies flippantly as agnostic, or just, as indifferent, I do not feel protective of my beliefs. But, my lack of faith shouldn’t figure prominently in my understanding of this letter. I think this letter speaks very well to the basic fact of modern-day Islamophobia: religious beliefs have almost nothing to do with the West’s demonization of Islam. The politics of Islamophobia relate to xenophobia amplified by the financial crisis(es), a global war on terror and struggle for monopolization of power, access to oil, and men’s paranoia over maintaining control over women’s bodies (and arresting that control from other men). Given these state of affairs, as a Western youth, I vow to not let anyone–no politician, academic, intellectual, family member, or friend–dupe me into hatred or misplaced violent thought. I will not allow media hype and disparate forces that attempt to create a ‘straw man’ out of Islam distract me from the real sources of social strife, or fool me as to its sources. I will continue to admire the personal strength shown me by my Muslim friends and family members, and respect that a huge source of their strength in the face of hate and discrimination is their faith. I hope to be a Western youth who pushes my community to question blind prejudice, and has the integrity to make it known that Islamophobia is not happening in the spaces I occupy, and that hate speech is no more freedom of expression than hate crime is a legitimate way of engaging in public debate. Many thanks to Sayyid Ali Khamenei for reaching out, I hope to be part of a generation of right thinking, self-reflexive, and humble Western adults, allies, and citizens of our global community.
After graduating from the M.A. in Gender studies and feminist research at McMaster University in 2013, Karen went on to begin a PhD in Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Currently, Karen researches settler/Indigenous relations in Canada, decolonization, and environmental activism as a site of critical relationship building. She is interested in pedagogies of difficult knowledge, anti-racism, and liberatory sociology. Taken from: http://gsfr.mcmaster.ca/students/index.html.