Saving coexistence: In the same basket, our hopes might crack

A wonderful world is constantly created by those who believe in coexistence and peace. The consti­tuencies of peace still can make a difference.


2017/04/02 Issue: 100 Page: 19


The Arab Weekly
Iman Zayat



Today’s world looks more divided than ever. It seems that the current global quandary is getting a lot of media atten­tion. While feeding on hatred and hoping to score political points, populists are trying to put all Muslims in the same basket of terrorism.

In the Muslim world, other wicked attempts to demonise are under way. Radical Islamists and their allies from the followers of political Islam, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, are pushing for the establishment of a hostile society, one that puts all Westerners into a basket of antagonism, racism and chauvin­ism.

In 1971, John Lennon com­posed Imagine. The British music legend wanted people to picture a world in which religion, possessions and politics did not divide people.

In 1967, the American jazz legend Louis Armstrong released What a Wonderful World to rejoice in beauty and hope for everyone, including all races and religions.

Generations of Muslims around the world grew up listening to Lennon and Armstrong, among others. Cultural messages of peace and coexistence circulated easily and helped people, Muslims included, revert to hope.

In many countries in the Muslim world and elsewhere, many believed in the prospect of peace. The dissemination of a cultural multiplicity was aided by the process of globalisation.

One of the basic principles of globalisation, as identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2000, is the free move­ment of people. Now, here is what we have: Travel bans, restrictions, crackdowns on immigrants and deportations.

Nightmares seem to increas­ingly occupy the realm of our collective imagination and the world does not look wonderful anymore. We are facing a chilling reality. What happened? And who started the mess that the world is facing today?

The mess has always been here. The question of who started it would only lead us into the trap of a fruitless blame game. It is true that we should not evade responsibility but it is crucial to find a way out of the blame maze that we ourselves have created.

The world’s current problems have unquestionably drawn more media attention than those of bygone days. The dreamers of and believers in peace are still here. Yet, their voices are overshadowed by radicals from all different camps and ideolo­gies in almost every country in this big-small world.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, terrorism, racism and other ills are making headlines, rendering the positive side of humanity invisible but, while the constitu­encies of peace are not getting the same media attention as the preachers of hate, they still can make a difference.

When US President Donald Trump issued his controversial travel ban in January, many Americans from coast to coast protested in support of immi­grants and refugees.

When Alexandre Bissonnette was arrested on charges of killing six people in a barbaric terror attack on the Islamic Cultural Cen­tre in Quebec, there was a sub­stantial show of support for the families of victims and the Muslim community. Canadian lawmakers have since passed a motion paving the way for future measures to combat Islamophobia.

In face of the rising wave of racism, rallies took place across Europe in March to mark the International Day for the Elimi­ nation of Racial Discrimination. The rallies attracted thousands of people in London, Cardiff, Glasgow as well as Berlin, Vienna and Athens.

Last February, when Jewish headstones were vandalised in Philadelphia and Saint Louis in the United States, the Muslim community rallied to help.

Now, after Khalid Masood acted alone in his murderous rampage on March 22nd, hundreds of Muslims gathered in Birmingham and London to condemn the Westminster terrorist attack. Muslims from around the world flooded social media with messages of solidarity and support. A crowdfunding cam­paign was also created by a British-Muslim Londoner to raise money for the victims and their families.

A wonderful world is not an illusory one. A wonderful world is constantly created by those who believe in coexistence and peace. Such a world is created by the same people who see in their cultural differences a wealth in itself. These people should not be put in the same basket with radicals, racists and extremists for fear of breaking what remains of their hopes and dreams.


Iman Zayat is an Arab Weekly contributing editor based in Tunis.


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