Mosque arson attacks and the normalisation of Islamophobia
This year, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is scheduled to take place within the last few days of May. It is commonly known as the month that Muslims “don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset,” but to us, it’s much more.
Ramadan is the month we recalibrate our relationship with God. It’s a time for us to reflect, to worship, increase our good deeds and to remind ourselves what it means to be Muslim in the first place. Because of this, our hearts take the vast majority of us to the Mosque where we partake in night-time prayers, called taraweeh prayers, socialise and eat and drink.
Children would often come to the Mosque with their families and would run around either in a designated play area, or would be found cheekily running between worshiping elders.
There are also children who melt hearts as their tiny bodies imitate the actions of worshippers, occasionally chanting “Allahu Akbar”, to prove they are mature enough to be in tune with what is happening around them.
Being Muslim in the West during Ramadan means we’re often met with questions about fasting, or Islam in general.
Last year, in the UK, when we had to fast for 19 hours, we’d giggle at how people were gobsmacked at us not drinking water for so long, even though deep down, we ourselves would wonder how we were doing it too.
However, with all this, it also means we’re met with Islamophobia.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) June 6, 2016
" style="color:#fff;" class="twitter-post-link" target="_blank">Twitter Post
Earlier this week, a Washington based Muslim civil rights groups released a notice, warning Muslims about the possibility of a rise in arson attacks on Mosques during the holy month of Ramadan.
“A recent wave of mosque burnings and vandalism has caused a heightened awareness of the need for arson prevention and reporting,” the notice, written by Muslim Advocates said.
“American Muslims should never be afraid to worship or attend their mosque,” said Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry for Muslim Advocates.
“But we know we have to look out for the safety and security of our community, now more than ever. Mosques and congregants can take concrete steps to ensure that safety and we hope our resource guide can assist them,” she added.
The igniting hatred towards Muslims is putting Muslim communities increasingly at threat.
A false divisive rhetoric is forcing Muslims who come from Western countries to feel as though they are strangers in their own homes; as though they are less British, or American because of the faith in which they believe.
|A false divisive rhetoric is forcing Muslims who come from Western countries to feel as though they are strangers in their own homes; as though they are less British, or American because of the faith in which they believe|
While this is significant and remains a sad state of affairs, the safety of Muslims, which should be prioritised when looking at Islamophobia, is becoming increasingly threatened.
Veiled Muslim women are particularly put at risk, considering they are “visibly” Muslim and are less likely to defend themselves if faced with an attack.
Hateful rhetoric turns Mosques, Islamic community centres, or even Muslim households into places of perceived threat.
Talks about “banning Muslims” and treating us like hazards to national security have real life implications.
|— Karim 'Kiko' Mohamed (@Karim_Kiko) February 11, 2015 " style="color:#fff;" class="twitter-post-link" target="_blank">Twitter Post|
Even less violent discourses surrounding the Muslim community, such as when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Muslim women as “traditionally submissive” fuel the dehumanisation of Muslims and consequently Islamophobia.
Islamophobes welcomed Cameron’s comments with open arms as it helped them perpetuate the idea that Muslims live in a parallel enclave on British soil, in which Muslim women are forcefully complicit.
No one should be shocked at the arson notice Muslim Advocates released.
Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon. When attacks against Muslims first sprung, they became isolated incidents that would continue to pile on the conscience of society.
Now, Islamophobia is becoming a lifestyle, as warnings against attacks and dealing with the consequences of them when they occur are becoming normalised within Muslim communities.
Follow Diana Alghoul on Twitter: @SuperKnafeh