Sunday, 8 January 2012

the beard and burqa brigade: what's in a name?

A problem repeatedly identified with Islamicisation, Islamicism and Islamophobia lies in the first five letters of each: we aren’t fighting Islam, merely extremists who seek to oppress fellow Muslims just as much as Brits in general. So why do we define our enemies with words starting "Islam—"?

Is it time to call our enemies a name that doesn’t seem to stigmatise every Muslim?

A Pakistan Defence forum thread argues certain appearances seem to go with extremism: "why many bad appearing Pakistanis are extremists and idiots clueless in the West? Do they know how to shave in well-dress manners? [sic]"

In the middle of a lively discussion, one poster comments "There is nothing wrong with a beard or a burkha but we dont want need fanatics etc and they often are in this mix".

click to read the Pakistan Defence thread

The poster is absolutely right: nobody anywhere is banned from a beard (I have a goatee my kids call “the paintbrush”), but a certain style of beard is sported by Wahabi-inspired militants. Likewise, there’s no law prohibiting anybody in the UK, male or female, from wearing a burqa, but the fact that so few do indicates the ridiculousness of the garment; and the association of those women who do wear a burqa, willingly or not, with "beards" is instructive.

Instead of referring to Islamism etc, could we refer to, perhaps, "beards and burqas", or "the beard’n’burqa" brigade?

I’m not saying everything would be rosy if we did, but taking the prefix "Islam-" from names for modern civilisation’s enemies might help moderate Muslims create a safe space for themselves and others where they can critique extremists and their sponsors.

A space from where they can cry out, as did one contributor to the Muslim Times about extremists, "Allah save us from our saviors".


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