“Please refrain from carrying sharp objects in your baggage.” Every person who has ever travelled by air knows of this regulation prohibiting sharp objects such as knives, scissors, tweezers, etc. that can be used as weapons. You know, jab a scissor in the flight attendant’s neck and hijack the plane. But apparently there’s a new weapon in town, and it’s called the ‘can tab’. We still don’t know if it can be weaponised, but it is reported to be linked with terrorism.
In a recent incident, Tahera Ahmed, a Muslim chaplain at Northwestern University in the US, who happens to cover her head, was denied an unopened can of diet Coke as passengers (read: Tahera) could use it as a ‘weapon’. The passenger sitting next to Tahera, however, was handed an unopened can of beer, and upon complaining, Tahera was told she was given an opened can so that “she doesn’t use it as a weapon”. Instead of receiving support from the other passengers, all Tahera received was further backlash and was told that “she knows she would use it as a weapon, so shut the hell up”.
The same day, there was an anti-Muslim rally outside a mosque in Phoenix, where the participants were heavily armed, to protest against shooters who attacked the cartoon contest in Texas. Their message being to ‘Stop Islam.’ Anyone who claims that Islamophobia is not a present-day reality is living in serious denial.
In June 2009, US President Barack Obama stated that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story”.
In light of the recent Islamophobic events, anyone would see the stark contrast between the Western leadership’s mindset and those of their people. So either Obama and his ilk accept that Islamophobia is a reality and provide Muslims living in the West with some reassurances or work towards integrating Muslim communities to counter this wave of selective discrimination. Because right now, we don’t know how many Taheras and mosques out there are being subjected to prejudice. This needs to end now.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2015.
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