Why must Muslims face such bias and abuse?
2017-10-15 08:25:00 -

Mohammed Samaana


As if placing a pig’s head at a mosque entrance was not enough to tell Newtownards’ and the rest of Northern Ireland’s Muslim community that they are not welcome, the racist thugs responsible spray-painted Islamophobic like “Muslim rapists out” on the walls.


Speaking as a Muslim living in Northern Ireland. I don’t think we need to worry about that graffiti. After all, they only want Muslims who are rapists to get out. I have been living here for about 17 years and I have not come across or heard of any Muslim who was convicted of rape.


When I first came to study in Belfast, I got the impression that this country was friendly and welcoming, and a no-go area for racists. So how did we get from there to where we are now?


Accusing all Muslims of such heinous crimes started with racist groups like the BNP and the National Front in England. It wasn’t a big issue before as their impact was limited.


The problem worsened as the mainstream media started to pay more attention when a person accused or convicted of rape had a name that might be presumed to be Muslim. The ethnic origin of the rapist was usually not mentioned otherwise.


Moreover, did you hear about the US marine who was found guilty of sexually abusing children in Scotland and the US last April? Or the 14-year-old Muslim girl in Baghdad who was gang-raped and murdered by American soldiers, before they burned her body and killed the rest of her family, during the illegal war in Iraq? 


Did you know child sex offenders make up the largest group of inmates in US military prisons? But the UK’s closest allies will never be labeled as rapists. And as long as they are destroying one Muslim country after another, then Muslims will be demonised and misrepresented until further notice, and heinous crimes against them will continue to be forgotten or ignored. I’m thinking of the Bosnian Muslim women who were raped and killed by Christian Serbs in the 1990s, and more recently the rape of Rohingya Muslim women by Myanmar Buddhists.


This is how biased media coverage started to create the prejudice that sex offenders are more likely to be Muslims. But Islamophobia is worse than what I’d thought. For example, I know people who are tolerant but still shared fake news on social media generated by anti-Islamic websites. When I challenged the accuracy of these stories, they removed them and apologised, but only after the damage was done. These were people who I often had a drink with, but they fell victim to Islamophobic propaganda.


Local Muslims might be wondering why they have to face this unwarranted abuse, when all the available evidence points elsewhere? Surely places like Kincora Home in Belfast, where children were abused, weren’t run by Muslims. Henry Clarke, who abused children locally before becoming a church pastor in Canada, is not a Muslim either.


While I’m confident that our local press will not provide a platform for these Islamophobes, clearly we have a situation where if one Muslim potentially does something wrong, then every Muslim on earth is guilty. How fair is that?

Mohammed Samaana is a freelance writer based in Belfast.



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