The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, led by Professor John Curtice - University of Strathclyde, has revealed that 1,500 people were asked if we should do everything we can to get rid of prejudice, 65% said yes, but it seems that 29% said that it was sometimes 'ok' to discriminate. Half of those interviewed said that Scotland would lose its 'identity' if more Muslims came to live here. The full news can be read at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7138538.stm
Great, another reason for the usual suspects to come out and use this piece, I stress piece - 1500 is in no way representative, to scream Islamophobia. A great rallying point for the so-called Muslim leaders to embolden the 'us' and 'them' mentality which we so need to lose as Scots. Prejudice and discrimination occurs in every society but in every society there are also the good people who raise their voices and heads above all of this nonsense and build bridges between communities. Why must we always be set on profiling the ugly? This piece of research will probably raise issues that weren't issues before! Those Scots (Muslim or non) will now sit back and consider what are the pros and cons of having Muslims live in this country. It is also worth considering what exactly is our Scottish culture and identity? Could it be that having a nationalist government has made us all sit up and consider our identity? When an identity is vulnerable and weak it pushes up barriers to the other so maybe we need our nationalist government to put their money where there mouth is and begin a national dialogue on a 21st century Scottish identity. Not just saltires, haggis and kilts (see picture:) but the nitty gritty of Scottish lifestyle. Are we up to the challenge of such a debate?
I received an email from Islamonline.com asking me to comment on this news. Interesting, this is the first time that they have contacted me for my views. I'm sure they were hoping that I would say the usual, 'everyones against us, we must unite', well I'm sorry this is a problem for all of us, regardless of race, creed and religion and we must all fight it together. What is it that makes folk so afraid of Islam? Are we allowing a critical discussion and debate to take place which will eradicate such prejudices? Scottish political leaders must wake up and smell the coffee. They need to stop entertaining the so-called moderates because they are the ones who breed discrimination with their regressive, monolithic views which fail to express the sentiments of the progressive and critical masses whose voices have been hijacked by those politically motivated. As a Muslim I know how quick narrow minded bigots in some Muslim communities are to gag people from writing something critical about Islam or name a teddy bear after our beloved prophet, so are we so shocked that people worry that their culture is threatened by Muslims? Are we saying that Muslims don't discriminate or bear prejudices? Are we always the victims and never the guilty? Where is the fun and liberty in Islam that flourished in every culture during the medieval period? And then we must consider to what extent are the wider communities in Scotland taking the step to move closer to minority communities? Are they breaking down barriers and building bridges? Are they informing themselves on the 'other'? It is surely a double edged sword, no one community is to blame for this mess of prejudice and stereotype that we have.
Prejudices and stereotypes are not broken by stating the usual platitudes of 'Islam being a religion of peace', they are broken by bearing warts and all to each other and seeking help from one another in mending what is wrong and celebrating all that is right. The sooner Scots realise this will we rid our beautiful land of the narrow minded idiots! Amen!
And here is the proof of the pudding. This weekend my sister and I were invited by a dear friend to help decorate a Christmas tree. My sister and her kids had a great time and at no time was their Islamic identity threatened by this very Scottish tradition (I'm trying not to say Christian because I don't think trees are!:) Just look at the smiles and also note the Archbishop TuTu doll behind my Hijab-clad, tinseled sister's head, that is what makes me feel proud as a Scot, the fusion of such diversity, each proud in its own right.