European discussion of Islam – ‘dumb, offensive and provocative’

Farish Noor“It is interesting to reflect on the asinine times we live in, particularly if like me, you are involved in that nebulous thing called ‘inter-cultural dialogue’. Over the past four weeks, I have been engaged in numerous rounds of dialogues between Western Europeans and Muslim migrant communities in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin; and in every single one of these encounters, I came across stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that were so shallow and puerile that I am almost embarrassed to recount them here. Worst still, these pedestrian musings on Islam and Muslims were not the offerings of everyday punters, but those who claimed to be well-known and admired scholars and historians.

“In one of these exchanges, I was told the following: that ‘Islam is a fascist, woman-hating, Christian-killing, gay-bashing macho male ideology of hatred that was built on fourteen centuries of conquest and bloodshed, murder and rape. That is why there cannot be integration of Muslims into Europe, because the Muslims that we have here are the savages of the Arab world who are barbaric, violent and brutal. They do not believe in reason and the Enlightenment and Islamic civilisation has not produced anything scientific, rational or humane’. Try substituting the word ‘Muslim’ for ‘blacks’ and one would see how far-fetched and racist such claims really are.

“Now why is it that whenever we speak of Islam and Muslims today, some of us think they have the license to drop their IQ level by a hundred points or so? Is discussion on Islam a license to say anything dumb, offensive and provocative just for the sake of riling up the masses and grabbing a few headlines?”

Farish A. Noor in the Daily Times, 28 September 2007