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It Has No Other Name: Neo-racism

By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban 

08/08/05 "Asharq Alawsat"
-- -- MP George Galloway said in a lecture at the Assad Library in Damascus last week: "I came to declare that I am a friend to Arabs, at a time when it is not easy to be friend to Arabs, because nowadays those who have ambitions and interests would not befriend Arab." It is very true, as befriending Arabs and Muslims would brand one as a "suspect" associate of a group of people who prefer death to life due to incomprehensible reasons. In spite of the industrious effort of think-tanks and research centers, this incomprehensibility has reached an alarming edge demanding a prudent solution. 

One of the repercussions has been depriving Muslims and Arabs, wherever they were, of their civil and human rights, passing discriminating laws against them, and entrapping them in peculiar interrogations: "Do you feel more European or more Muslim? More British or more Muslim? Which feeling overwhelms the other the most?" Hate-crimes have prevailed against the colored "suspects" in Western countries, giving new life to the racism and xenophobia the world has been fighting in Europe, the United States and South Africa over the last century. Today, it is a neo-racism against Arabs and Muslims. Only last week, Anthony Walker was killed in Liverpool for his brown skin, and four Arabs on a bus near the city of Shafa Amro in occupied Palestine were killed in a vivid translation of the Israeli Prime Minister's mother's advice "Don't trust Arabs." No condemnation resonated anywhere in the civilized West.

Some Universities in the West have also started eliminating Muslim applicants, especially seekers of sciences, in fear they might use their education to produce bombs and feed terrorism. The seventy's academic triumph in celebrating scholarly achievement regardless of race, color, religion or nationality has come to an end. As for travel, it has become a tormenting and humiliating hustle for the black haired, dark eyed or brown colored. It has become indeed, as PM Galloway put it "not easy to be friend to Arabs," to Muslims or truth. 

Arabs and Muslims are required everywhere to abide by international rules and regulations; however they don't seem to enjoy any right under those very same rules and regulations. While newspapers casually refer to the heavy water supply to Israel's nuclear weapons production, they threaten and caution against any Muslim development of nuclear programs. So, as long as the target was Arabs and Muslims, any nuclear threat is safe to maintain. The world cannot permit those who do not share the same level of "rationality and responsibility" to possess nuclear weapons. This is the driving logic behind legitimizing racism and discrimination against Arabs and Muslims, and the very same logic that will eventually undermine the value system of "freedom" and "democracy."

Turning a blind eye on the oppression and occupation feeding Arab and Muslim frustration with the West is not the road to safety, neither are the racist crimes and statements used by western leaders to gather votes for an election or support for a policy. The worst calamity of all is that the terrorists, who claim avenging Islam, are themselves the most lethal weapon in the hands of those who profit from locking Arabs and Muslims up behind the bars of suspicion and depriving them of their lands and resources. The world should re-examine the core of such ideological policies of hate and pay more heed to the prudent, moderate truth-seekers like MP George Galloway, the late Robin Cock, Ken Livingston, Noam Chomsky, Henry Sigeman, Avi Shliem and their like, in stead of bypassing them as suspicious pro-Arab and pro-Muslim advocates. 

Humanity has paid a high price fighting racism and discrimination over centuries; how could we loose the battle today to similar ideologies covered up in the cloaks of "freedom" and "democracy?" Whether President Bush's advisors concur to call it "international struggle against violent extremism" or "war on terrorism," prudence demands they listen first to the words of General Wallace Grigson of the American Marines base in the Pacific: "winning hearts and minds is more important than arresting and killing people." The great majority of Muslims and Arabs today feel they are victims to the American war on terrorism; this majority will inevitably be decisive in how the war ends. This is a risk factor alarming enough for the United States to reconsider not names and titles, but more importantly policies and ideologies

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban is Minister of Expatriates in Syria, and writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. Before assuming her current ministerial position, Dr. Shaaban was Director of the Press Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Syria. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University in England in 1982, and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an advisor in 1988. Since then, she has represented Syria as a spokeswomen on an international level. Dr. Shaaban has published four books, and contributed to many others. 

Copyright: Saudi Research and Publishing company

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