Berqas and the Tolerant Letterboxes
A British official’s derogatory remarks about the wearing of berqas (burqas, burkas, facial coverings) have ignited a firestorm of criticism and a discussion about the boundaries of religion, politics, and tolerance. Guest columnist Maen Alhusseni speaks to the racism of the issue
By Maen Alhusseini
Former foreign secretary and British Member of the Parliament Boris Johnson said last week that Muslim women wearing burkas (berqas) “look like letterboxes” and compared them to “bank robbers.”
Johnson, a popular historian and journalist, said he would not apologize to those comments, as he will always remain a defender of liberal values. I am not sure what the link is between xenophobia and the angry bird style hair!
As these two factors seem very interlinked nowadays. Should this assumption be considered racist? Absolutely. Nevertheless, I have just stated it to show how easy it is to mock anyone and make him hurt.
It baffles your mind to consider how similar socially ignorant and racist figures reached important political positions in first world countries. Digging a bit into Mr. Johnson’s background, you can find out the elitism and racism character all over his thoughts and statements. Actually, he has been able to go up the ladder of the political scene because of these beliefs.
Does this sample represent a change in the thinking of the western civilized world, or it is just the revelation of beliefs that have been there for centuries? The conspiracy theory advocates believe that racism and patriotism waves that are taking the western world are all a part of a master plan to reintroduce the hard fist of these countries, and to reaffirm the grip on other weaker ones.
At any rate, this is obviously the anti-globalization era, which only a few futurists saw it coming. We are living the start of nationalization and silos countries. Politicians of the most powerful countries try their best to entertain the urges of populist crowds by going more the more extreme in their views of rejecting others. In the past, a political leader used to play the role of the wise Indian chief who assumes the responsible role of keeping the tribe together and making sure to keep it with a peaceful and friendly surrounding environment. Today, however, it looks more entertaining to play the role of Superman.
A superpower leader who is adored by Metropolis people, and iconized by The Daily Planet media. In addition, all others who do not believe in Superman are considered belonging to the Central Rouges gang, and should be eliminated!
As there is no hope for reconciliation at sight it because too many macho and fanatic leaders are there around the globe. What should be our strategy to fight this plague? What should be the strategy of those minorities, oppressed, and discriminated against people?
We could either submerge ourselves in the act or react cycle, and consequently burnout of exhaustion, or attempt to set up a clear long-term strategy to fight those hostile beliefs. We should base our strategy on two pillars. First, to set examples of good citizenship whether in the local communities, nationwide or even at the global level. No strategy is better than relentlessly being sincerely good and delivering that good to others.
We should do what our values and morals mandate us to do. Every day, every week, year round. If the “Mailbox lady” and many similar cases just sincerely practiced what they used to do by giving, caring, and being effective members of the community, they will eventually make a difference. Secondly, to unify communication efforts at different social and regional levels in order to convey the message of goodness and fine deeds of those discriminated-against people.
This is the time of solidarity. We might not be able to change the “mail box” conviction of Mr. Johnson, but we will certainly gather enough public opinion support to stand against his ideas, and all those who he represents.
(Maen Alhusseini is a writer based in Amman, Jordan. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Polarization of Privately Funded Arab Media is Firing Back - November 24, 2018
- Berqas and the Tolerant Letterboxes - August 14, 2018