On anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe

PIC: Beny Slevich (CC)

PIC: Beny Slevich (CC)

Sara R. Farris writes at Al Jazeera English:

In 1844, Karl Marx published a short but dense text entitled “On the Jewish Question”. It was a critical review of two essays by the-then famous philosopher Bruno Bauer, who had argued against equal rights for Jews if granted on religious grounds. If Jews wanted to be considered full citizens – Bauer maintained echoing the widespread opinion of the time – Jews would have to abandon their religion and embrace Enlightenment. According to this logic, there was no room for religious demands in a secular society.

As Bauer’s position suggests, anti-Jewish racism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in the first half of the 19th century, was justified mainly on cultural and religious grounds. Jews were discriminated and regarded with suspicion because they were considered an alien “nation within the nation”. In fact, it was not until the second half of the 19th century and the rise of “social Darwinism” that “racial anti-Semitism”, framed in biological terms, appeared on the political scene and Jews were openly discriminated against on the basis of their alleged genetic inferiority.

The question we might want to ask ourselves today is whether contemporary Europe is confronting a Muslim question similar to the Jewish question 170 years ago. Is European antipathy towards Muslims comparable to that first stage of hatred towards Jews, a hatred that culminated in one of the darkest pages of human history?

In spite of the obvious differences between the two contexts, the success of the far right during the recent elections in several European countries seems to suggest that the answer is a resounding yes. The victory of these parties attests to the incredible gains made by Islamophobic propaganda in the last ten years. In France, the president of the National Front, Marine Le Pen – who obtained one quarter of all votes – has asked school canteens to stop offering Muslim children alternatives to pork. In Britain, the UK Independence Party campaigned against the construction of mosques and became the biggest winner in the elections, with an astonishing 27.5 percent of the vote.

Many of these parties, as well as those who voted for them, do not consider themselves racists. After all, the problem with Muslims – according to the likes of Le Pen – is their alleged backwardness, fanaticism and unwillingness to integrate.

In short, it is the Muslims’ fault. Just like the Jewish question of the 19th century, the contemporary Muslim question is premised upon cultural differences and thus presented as legitimate and politically correct.

Read more here.

26 Comments on "On anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Jun 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm |

    it’s not proper
    but suspicion & fear of the different is unversal
    and not religated to any one culture or religion

    • This isn’t about generic bigotry, it’s specifically addressing pervasive Islamophobic persecution.

      • BuzzCoastin | Jun 16, 2014 at 1:32 am |

        it cuts both ways
        try being western in Saudi Arabia and
        experience a similar fear of the different other

        • ‘In the Arab and Muslim worlds, Saudi Arabia is considered to be pro-Western and pro-American,[165] and it is certainly a long-term ally of the United States.’

          ~ h**ps://en.m.wikipedia.o*g/wiki/Saudi_Arabia#Foreign_relations

          • BuzzCoastin | Jun 16, 2014 at 2:44 am |

            foreigners are segregated from the general population there

            when it comes to money from oil
            they’re extreely liberal
            when it comes to western republican values
            lived & propmoted in their midst
            they’re about as phobic as any islamabamaphobe

            the French may have banned the burka
            butt burka is the law in SA

          • So they’re chauvinistic and conservative, but not deathly hostile to the Occident?

          • BuzzCoastin | Jun 17, 2014 at 2:25 am |

            oil is money
            money comes from the infidels
            butt they don’t bite the hand that feeds them
            money trumps religion every time

      • Islamophobia is completely justified.

        • Well I am willing to bet you have Judeo-christian type views and if not are still a sympathizer of Zionist views in one way or another. Also bet you watch western mainstream media news that spew zionist propaganda all over. Also willing to bet you dont think the CIA, MI6 and Mossad create and support muslim insurgencies across the planet. Dont think I support Islam, its very much the opposite because I despise mainstream media in general, but you should try and get your facts straight little sheeple.

        • To have an extremely irrational fear?

  2. InfvoCuernos | Jun 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm |

    If there is one truth about racism that I have observed in my world travels, its that those that cry the loudest for equality are the most intolerant. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone of any color who the worst offenders are when it comes to racism. its actually a trick question, as any answer would be painting a whole race with the same brush. The solution is so simple but so far out of human grasp that it makes me despair that there will ever be peace among the tribes of man. The solution is to treat everyone as you would be treated.

  3. Europe: Blaming The Victim Since ~Mid 7th Century B.C.

  4. misinformation | Jun 16, 2014 at 12:19 am |

    I’m no expert but it seems the use of ‘anti-Semite’ has been thoroughly co-opted to mean ‘anti-Jewish’. As far as I understand, Semite, refers to languages, not races or ethnicities. The fact then, that Palestinians are ‘Semitic People’s’, again, as far as I understand, makes it all a lot muddier.

    • Yep. Most people dont even know what anti-semitism means. I laugh when I talk to someone about the atrocities Israel does to Palestinians then they call me a anti-semite. Its like ok…? First, Palestinians are semites as well so you are kinda like the pot calling the kettle black. Second, disagreeing with somones actions is not being racist. Then if im really feeling in a antagonistic mood I will explain how I am anti-zionism and how that still is not anti-semitism. Most people are either too dumb or too indoctrinated to crack the thick Zionist propaganda shell that they have around their brain.

  5. Liam_McGonagle | Jun 16, 2014 at 9:24 am |

    Too often people try to excuse real cultural failings under the umbrella of ‘tolerance’. WTF is the tolerance in a society that condones honor killings, purdah and sectarian murder?

    There are real differences among the Abrahamic religions. These activities are in direct controvention of the fundamental Christian ethos, whereas in Judaism and Islam they are its fulfillment. Islam is not a spiritual tradition misunderstood, it’s a universalist political system which is very well understood. Judaism is a straight-up survival of an archaic tribal/racialist ethos.

    Christian sectarian murderers are hypocrites. Islamic and Ultra-Orothodox Jewish sectarian murderers are being entirely faithful to their credo. You tell me which is the worst person.

    • Organized religion is a plague across the planet so I would have to say all of the above for who is the “worst person.”

      • I seriously question whether the “big three” Abrahamic religions have overall been a greater force for Good or Evil in our world, when all the tallying up is done.

        Seems to me that the Good bits have been just as attainable (and practiced) by plenty of people worldwide without having to kowtow to Big Desert Sky Daddy and his minions, while the Bad bits are that much worse when done by people for “good” reasons as provided by their religious texts and leaders.

    • What an anti-Semitic post.

      #7: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ ~ Exodus 20:13.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 17, 2014 at 9:55 am |

        I appreciate your skepticism, but your quote is clearly out of context. For example, 1 Samuel 25:22:

        ‘May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”‘
        The Commandments clearly pertain only to in-group behaviors. There are numerous countervailing examples that demonstrate that out-group individuals are meant to be dealt with by a completely different standard. That’s the definition of tribalism.

  6. The point of not wanting to integrate is a pretty accurate one actually.

    Take the schools and the pork thing for instance. Jews aren’t allowed to eat pork either. Yet it’s only when the muslims start to become more numerous that it’s suddenly a problem.

    Why were similar alternatives not offered to Jews several decades ago? Why do the Muslims get special treatement?

    • You’re complaining that significant minorities are now being treated more humanely?

      • Sorry for the late reply, but no, I’m not.

        My complaint is that there are several minorities but only one of them actually gets these privileges and the others don’t. It’s hypocrite.

        • That’s a little confusing.
          You’ve pointed out that one’s more numerous and that the accomodations were made several decades later.
          So preferential treatment, doesn’t seem applicable.

          • “You’ve pointed out that one’s more numerous and that the accomodations were made several decades later.”

            No, that’s not what I said. I said that jews were a minority in western countries long before muslims started becoming more numerous. And that both religions forbid pork but only the bigger, louder one gets the special treatement.

            You know what jews do with school meals? They give their kids their own or just tell them to avoid eating pork. That’s it.

            But then the Muslims come along and they might blow shit up so better not piss them off and just give them what they want.

          • Rather than appeasement, one could argue that that is Democracy. Catering for the needs of a significantly-sized demographic.

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