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« Christian hijacks plane | Main | "Muslim ghettoes" »

October 05, 2006



Oh no! Now my consumerist desire to own lots of books has been awakened by the review of Ballard's anti-consumerist book Help!


this is thoughtful, but i have to take exception on a couple of points.

1. it seems that we bandy the word "racist" about a little too often. when the majority community fails to see why muslims would be offended at something, it's racist. when it dares to presume that muslims would be offended at something, racist again. i recognize that they should be asking us, but if things are going to work they have to think for themselves too. when they happen to be wrong (as you suggest on this account), i wouldn't call it racist.

2. i'm not sure why a muslim nativity scene in mughal india is worth celebrating. emulating another religious tradition (if nativity scenes aren't religious, i'm not sure what is) and depicting a prophet in a painting--hardly a representative example of the islamic tradition.

3. a minor point: at least in the united states, the primary critics of public christmas scenes are in fact from the jewish community. it is seen as discriminatory (where's my menorah?) and by some even offensive (christianity being a theological and historical cause for jewish pain, i think).



In Britain race and religion are tied up for better or for worse. Some bigotry against "Muslims" is based on 'race', as in when you have people wanting to beat you up because of your "Paki religion". 'Paki' is a racial slur. This is partly because categories of people do not understand, fully, that religious beliefs also make up a person's identity, as Americans probably do. Ethnic make up, however, they do understand and legislate for (Pakistani, Turk, Morrocan, Algerian, Jew and Sikh etc. are all protected from hate. "Muslim" is not speficially.) (And I am not suggesting this is 'good' or 'bad'.)

I do agree very strongly that not all criticism or disagreement is in anyway 'racist'. People can object to or even dislike Islam. They have souls and they carry their own burdens. I also dislike it being abused, much like the word 'Islamophobia'. I even blogged about the latter here. However, it would be wrong to say there is no racism or animosity towards Muslims either as "Muslims" or as Asians or blacks etc. Whether this is their fault or someone else's fault is another issue.

And I know the Mughal nativity scene is not representative of Islamic traditions; more that such a scence is not novel to Muslims, however marginal.

The point on the US is a useful contrast; but you have a formal separation of church and state. We don't.

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