This post has been updated —ed.
Events of recent years in Europe drive home the reality that right-wing xenophobes are, well gaining ascendancy. From the almost amusing Sarkozy comments on the burqa, to the shocking murder of Marwa Sherbini in a Dresden courtroom and the proceeding silence in Germany point to a disturbing trend in Europe.
It is okay to hate Muslims.
Alex W. was not a “lone wolf” and many xenophobic groups are no longer quite fringe. These developments are disturbing to all Europeans, not just to Muslims. Because the doors of hatred do not operate singly. One door of hatred opens multiple doors.
Non-Muslim immigrants and minorities should not reassure themselves that the focus on Muslims and their clothes will work to their advantage. This focus will not keep the damage limited to “only” Muslims. To minority groups, tolerance and acceptance may often justifiably appear as limited commodities: if handed out to others, there’s not enough left for them. So one group may think it’s a good sign for their survival when another group gets branded. But the targeting of one group is merely a sign that the disease is spreading across the bodypolitic. It’s a matter of time before it reaches you.
The European right-wing trend of hatred, rejection, and xenophobia threatens to sweep entire societies into its dark embrace. Non-Whites, non-Christians, and non-nationals (German, British, French, whatever) are threatened. But beyond that, White nationals are also threatened. Hatred is not some arrow that contents itself with reaching its mark. Hatred is a super-germ, not content with one victim, or with many. It spreads like the plague, and the loss of liberties, terror, and violence that follow in its wake infect everyone.
If a woman can be stabbed to death in broad daylight, it is not just Muslim women that are at risk. If Muslim women’s liberties and choices are threatened, it is not just their liberties that are endangered.
This is not a moment for Muslims alone to rise in protest. The attack on Marwa Sherbini is an attack on humanity, not on the “tribe” of Islam, or the sub-group of hijab-observing women. This is a moment for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Pagans and atheists to rise up in revolt and to say no to hate, no to violence, no to xenophobia, no to murder, no to needless tragedy – and yes to a sour, painful process of trying to understand Self and Other. For our own sake. For our children’s sake. So we and our children may tomorrow enter courtrooms hoping for justice, not fearing the worst.