Tag Archives: representation

The irony of stereotypes

As I have already mentioned in my previous posts, like “Bikinis, Niqabs, oppression and assumptions” and “Good luck to him, he married a foreigner”, there are just as many stereotypes about the West in Middle Eastern countries as there are stereotypes about the Middle-East in the West. A lot, if not all, of these stereotypes are completely incorrect at worst, or distorted at best.

One of my Iranian friends (who lives in Australia) has a relative (who lives in Iran) who honestly believes that all Western women are prostitutes. The relative of my friend believes that all people in the West recreate pornographic movies by attending pool parties where young men and women walk around half naked, rubbing oil on one another and procreating with anything and everything that moves. Funnily enough, I have never been to such a pool party in Australia, but I have witnessed such an occurrence in Iran. The parties that I attended in Iran were 100 times more risqué than those I attended in Australia, or any other Western country for that matter. Either I have been going to all the wrong events in Australia (and have clearly been missing out) or the stereotype that my friend’s relative has set is not an accurate representation of Western social events.

To make myself very clear, I have nothing against people who are sexually liberated and choose to attend social events where everyone walks around naked and openly has sex with one with another, but it’s just personally not my thing. I was particularly shocked to see this happen before my eyes in the Islamic State of Iran. It wasn’t something I was expecting to see. It took a lot of willpower to resist the urge of filming what was happening around me and showing it to my friend’s relative and saying- “Do you see this? This happened here, in the country in which you you live, not in a Western country…. please explain”. Don’t worry I didn’t do it. The relative of my friend’s world of “Iranian is good; Western is bad” has remained intact. The only footage I retained is a memory of the hilarious irony of what I witnessed.

*Please note: I specifically restricted this post to dismantling a particular stereotype that some Iranians hold about Westerners. I can just as easily dismantle stereotypes that Westerners hold about Iranians, but the post would be too long. I acknowledge that this specific post is one-sided and does not give a balanced perspective of the various stereotypes people of different cultures hold towards one another.

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

“Islamic Extremism is a ‘Muslim’ issue”

Ahhh, the world of Facebook…full of wonderful insights and keyboard warriors- there’s never a dull moment. A Facebook “friend” recently posted a status stating that that issue of Islamic extremism needs to be confined to Islamic communities: “South Korea has their issues and they keep it within their borders. Jews have their issues and they keep it within their borders…why do these [Muslim] extremists feel the need to cause trouble outside of their own community? Unlike any other group of people.”

*Face-palm*

I have so many issues with the above sentiment but I won’t waste too much time dismantling the things that are obviously wrong, I will just say one thing before I get to the crux of the matter. I didn’t realise that South Korea had ‘their issues’…I am going to presume that the writer of these wise words meant North Korea but was temporarily geographically challenged. Irrespective, the oppression that North Koreans experience is not just the problem of North Koreans…it’s a global problem. In the words of Martin Luther King, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As I am writing this, I am experiencing déjà vu. This kind of mentality reminds me of a woman I described in my blog post “Collective concern, collective responsibility”, who said the following words- “what happens to Africans in Africa is Africa’s problem. Its none of my concern, its not my responsibility.”

The essence of what the Facebook user is saying can basically be summarised as follows: if Jews kill Jews its okay but if Jews kill Muslims its not okay; if Muslims kill Muslims that’s okay, but if Muslims kill Christians its not okay and so on. It’s basically like saying “if they kill each other that’s ok, but heaven forbid they kill one of “us”. I have concerns for this “us” and “them” division.

Labelling Muslims and terrorists under the category of “them” and everyone else under the category of “us” is not only a very primitive way of looking at the situation, it’s blatantly wrong. Islamic extremism is just as frightening to Muslims as it is to anyone else. Limiting Islamic extremists to terrorising other Muslims and no one else doesn’t actually fix the issue. All it shows, is that we are tolerant to violence that happens to “them”, but intolerant of the very same violence when it applies to “us”.

I feel like I am constantly repeating myself, I have already stated that not all terrorists are Muslim in my blog post “Do you have any Jihadi friends?”. But the sentiment of “Why do these [Muslim] extremists feel the need to cause trouble outside of their community? Unlike any other group of people.” – implies that Islamic extremists are the sole perpetrators of terrorism.

There are a lot of people who cause trouble outside and inside of their own community, but the media simply does not label these individuals as terrorists. The media labels them as ‘depressed’, ‘troubled’ or some other nice word other than ‘terrorist’.

When Dylann Storm killed 9 people declaring that “blacks are taking over the world” and “someone needs to do something about it for the white race”, his actions were described as “pure, pure concentrated evil”. His actions were not described as terrorism, even though they could have been. I am sure that if he were Muslim and substituted the word “black” for “non-Muslim” and the words “white race” for “Islam” the word “terrorist” would have appeared all over the media.

When Elliot Rodger shot 6 innocent people and proclaimed that he will slay every person he sees on the street, he wasn’t labeled a terrorist. When pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully crashed flight 9525 and caused 150 people to die along with him, he wasn’t labeled a terrorist. People actually went out of there way to try to prove that Lubitz had converted to Islam and crashed the plane for a jihadi purpose. People created lies to rationalise in their heads that someone other than a Muslim could intentionally crash a plane and kill 150 people.

When Anders Behring Breivik shot 85 innocent people and set off a car bomb that killed 7 he was seldom (if at all) described a terrorist by the media. Even though Breivik’s motivation behind the attack was to eradicate Islam and Marxism from Europe, you don’t really see the media throwing around the word “terrorist” next to his name. If Breivik were a Muslim, who’s actions were motivated by wanting to eradicate the world of Capitalism and Christianity the word “terrorist” would have been thrown around left, right and centre.

The media, along with a lot of people who buy into what it says are so quick to pair up the word “Islam” with the word “terrorism”. Terrorism is terrorism, however according to the media it’s only terrorism when Islam is in some way involved. Even if it is terrorism and Islam isn’t involved, someone out there will do their best to make it look like Islam was involved, exhibit A: Andreas Lubitz.

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.