14 November 2009

Two trials, same disease

So it turns out that Alexander Wiens, the Islamophobe who has recently been found guilty of the murder of Marwa al-Sherbini, is appealing his life sentence at the Federal Court of Justice. Let's hope this court has enough strength of character to reaffirm the sentence.

Meanwhile, the trial of Radovan Karadžić has been postponed until 1 March. Karadžić, of course, has been charged with the murder of 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica and 10,000 people, most of them Muslims, in Sarajevo, among other crimes. So far, he has been able to obstruct his trial by boycotting it and continually asking for more time to study the charges against him. It seems, though, that, once the trial is well and truly under way, Karadžić should receive a life sentence if even one of the more serious charges against him is proven. Anything less would be a travesty of justice.

The difference between Karadžić and Wiens is simply one of degree. Unquestionably, there is a significant minority of Europeans that believes that there is no place for Muslims in Europe. While most such right-wing extremists spread their views non-violently (see picture), there are those, like Karadžić and Wiens, who evidently believe that European Muslims should be physically exterminated. It is thus reassuring that Wiens received his life sentence, and also reassuring that Karadžić is behind bars, despite the lack of progress in his trial.

The European and international justice system have so far been able to demonstrate that the brazen murder of innocents in Europe will not be tolerated. Thank God for that. However, an almost equally serious problem, in my view, is the seemingly growing political clout of openly Islamophobic movements that, while stopping short of calling for violence against Muslims, do their best to depict European Muslims as enemy aliens.

Among such groups I would count the British National Party (BNP). Last May, on a visit to England, I saw a BNP flyer which said, which no apparent shame, that Turkey should be prevented from entering the EU so that "70 million Muslim Turks" would not be able to flock to British shores. I would have thought that such open attacks on a particular group based solely on their religion would be illegal. But apparently not. Take a look at this poster, which makes it clear that opposition to Muslims (not Muslim extremists or whatever, mind, but all Muslims) is a central plank of the BNP's platform. Or look at this poster. Or this one.

Then, of course, there's the Swiss People's Party and its anti-minaret referendum, or Geert Wilders and his call for the Qur'an to be banned in the Netherlands, and for new Muslim immigrants to be kept out of the country. Lighter shades of Islamophobia are evident in Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign to legislate the clothing of Muslim women in France.

While anti-Semitism is, thankfully, on the decline in Europe, it seems that Islamophobia has very quickly taken its place. As Nick Griffin has admitted, this replacement of anti-Semitism with Islamophobia is, often, intentional. It's simply what sells these days.



Hicham Maged said...

I liked the way you presented the analogy in this post. Islamophobia is increasing since many years and what we see today is the result of this from my point of view especially the right wing Europe.

I've placed some thoughts on the swiss minaret's referendum and you are welcome to read it over here
[ http://blog.hichamaged.net/flying-with-black-wings/]

Rashed said...

Thanks, Hicham!

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