Come take my hand: thoughts on white supremacy and the refugee crisis

When I was young, my second cousin, who is about fifteen years older than me, used to play with us during our summer holidays in Cairo and Alexandria. A few years ago, when I met him at a family gathering in Egypt, I was told that he would not shake my hand anymore, because I am a woman and he and his wife do not touch people of the other gender. At the time I felt a little irritated, maybe even insulted, and – to be honest – I ridiculed their decision. Maybe that is how Europeans are feeling now about the papierarrival of a great number of refugees with all their cultural peculiarities. Maybe that is why Switzerland has issued a law obliging students to shake their teachers’ hands if requested. Maybe that is also the reason why Germany is discussing the ban of the so-called ‘burkini’—a full-body swimsuit used by veiled women—from public baths.

Thinking about it now, I realize that my cousin did refuse to shake my hand, yet he never asked me to follow his example and stop shaking hands, neither did he ever force any of his beliefs onto me or even ridicule me for having my own cultural quirks. I was the one being intolerant and judgemental all the while considering myself superior for being secular and liberal. I hear people in Germany worrying about all the Arabs and Muslims coming here, because ‘we don’t want to apply the Sharia here’ or ‘soon we have to celebrate Christmas in a Mosque’ or ‘they just don’t want to integrate and learn our values’. I am confused: where are the mobs of Muslims demonstrating for an implementation of the Sharia in Germany? I haven’t seen any—none of the new-arrivals, none of the third generation Turks, Iranians and Arabs living in this country. Where are the veiled women throwing burkas over bikini-bearing Germans or at least boycotting public baths due to the unfamiliar nudity? Where are the Syrians or Iraqis or Afghans forming political parties to abolish handshaking in Germany? Last time I checked, it was Europeans forcing their allegedly superior values onto the newcomers, being intolerant of other people’s religious freedom, supporting racist, xenophobic generalizations about ‘the Muslims’, refugees, Arabs etc.. Last time I checked, it was Europeans who felt irritated and insulted, because someone asked for the freedom not to shake a hand without ever trying to make this a general law (by the way, I hardly know any Muslims who don’t shake hands). Continue reading

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Muslim Pride

What does religious faith mean to young Muslims in European countries like Germany?

        

That is a question I tried to answer as part of the exhibition “Muslim Pride” (www.muslimpride.org), an exploratory project by French university students, that has committed itself to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. There will be an exhibition containing artistic and scientific ways of showing how Islamophobia has developed, why it is unnecessary and how Muslims live in Europe. Continue reading

Islamists are taking over the Arab world

Just kidding. They aren’t. But I am pretty sure that this header will get my blog a lot of views. That’s just about the same technique the Western media have been using in the last few days. Most of the times, when I write something, it’s because I’m angry. And reading the news or listening to people commenting on them has in fact made me very angry. Words like „Sharia“ and „Islamistic party“ are used to cause panic and fear of what comes Large groups of people praying at Tahrir Squareafter the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. These in no way objective pieces of news are causing an „I told you so!“ mentality in the heads of Western so-called democrats, who believe that they have a monopoly on democracy. I hear them talking of the Arab revolution attempts as a ridiculous effort that has hardly any chance of succeeding. Continue reading

No Human Rights for Bin Laden?

„And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al Qaeda’s terror, justice has been done.“ Those were Obama’s words after announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden, who has for many been a symbol of anti-Western terrorism in the last years. But has justice really been done? I am definitely not a supporter of Bin Laden, nor do I want to participate in any conspiracy theories about his death, but after reading more and more about the topic I just see so many questions that have to be asked. One of them is: why is there no evidence? Continue reading

The Call to Prayer

Please listen to the Azaan on this video while reading.

Often in Cairo I wake up between 5 and 6 o’ clock in the morning. I’m not sure whether it is the call to prayer that wakes me up or whether my inner clock wakes me up at that time in order to listen to the prayer.

But I end up lying in bed, half asleep, listening to the call to prayer, sometimes being sung, sometimes being spoken in a more monotone voice, sometimes expressed passionately by the muezzin.

Continue reading