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Anti-semitic and islamophobic backlash - practical responses?

(16 Posts)
OddBoots Sat 24-Jan-15 12:51:31

Just for background I'm a white, middle class, Christian mum of two living in a very diverse large town.

There is increasing evidence that people with Muslim and Jewish background of varying levels of religious faith and practice are increasingly being targeted in hate-filled abusive ways. This is happening on the streets, near religious buildings and even in schools.

I realise this is probably a really ignorant thing to ask but practically speaking what can I do? I have talked to my children and they know why it is wrong so not to get involved in perpetrating or promoting such nastiness and they know if they witness it they should treat it like any other bullying in getting adult help. I've found some good posters from Tell MAMA that have a helpline for victims of islamaphobic abuse and I'm hoping to get these put up in the local community centre. I walk a lot and try to smile at and say hello to everyone I pass, I don't do the school run any more but when I did I would try to avoid being cliquey and talk to everyone. What more can I do, there must be lots I'm not thinking of.

bigbluestars Sat 24-Jan-15 16:24:46

You could stop being a christian.
It is religion that is creating these divides.

woodhill Sat 24-Jan-15 16:30:17

why would op stop being Christian. human nature to blame or how man interprets his religion.

bigbluestars Sat 24-Jan-15 16:37:32

Religion a creation of man.

When two or more groups of people believe they have the absolute truth then there is bound to be conflict.

OddBoots Sat 24-Jan-15 16:51:46

Thanks for the suggestion but I don't think that one would work, the hostility seems to be as much from agnostics and atheists.

I normally appreciate the debate I really do, but this isn't the place for that, this is about real, practical now things - kindness not attacks.

bigbluestars Sat 24-Jan-15 16:54:53

OP the whole hostility is a religious one. Blaming atheists is ridiculous.

It is a fundamental dispute based on faith.

niminypiminy Sat 24-Jan-15 17:25:36

OP this is a really good question, and I as a Christian have been thinking about this as well.

What you are doing is great.

Is there anything like the St Philips Centre in your city? I think anything that is bridge- and friendship-building is really good. Things that help us to listen to others and learn from them, and encourage the building of personal relationships and trust.

We also have a Muslim Jewish Christian friendship thread on here although it's a bit sporadic, and I know there has also been some conversation in the Muslim tea room. Maybe some of the Muslim sisters who post on mn will come along with more ideas.

buffyp Sat 24-Jan-15 17:58:07

Big blue your whole attitude is proof positive of the hostility of some atheists. I take a lot of comfort in my faith as do a lot of other people of various faiths. If everyone, including atheists practiced more tolerance then the world would be a much better place.
To the op it sounds as if you are doing all that you can but you are a shining example to your faith. Maybe someone will come along with more help than me.

CaffeLatteIceCream Sat 24-Jan-15 19:22:39

No such thing as "Islamophobia". Please don't tell your children that there is.

If people are being targeted because of their race or their religion then we have hate laws to deal with such instances to the police as you would any other crime.

The biggest thing you could do to "help" would be to recognise the difference between hating an IDEOLOGY and hating a PERSON.

And frankly, anyone who does not hate the ideology known as Islam is an inhumane, sexist, racist ignoramus.

Islam hates you. Do humanity the biggest favour possible and hate it back.

And actually, bigblue is quite correct. If every one grew up, put aside their superstitious, obviously nonsensical beliefs about which immortal galactic overlord they've chosen to believe in, we'd all be significantly better off. Nit least of which, most Muslims in the world.

Instead, we have to "tolerate" horrifying human rights abuses that are happening in the name of "faith", and in the name of one particular "faith" simply because people of "faith" tell us we must do.

Shan't. Sorry.

LurcioAgain Sat 24-Jan-15 20:04:09

OddBoots - have you tried asking your vicar/minister? It may be that there are groups in place that you could join, for instance, run in conjunction with local mosques or synagogues? I think your policy of saying hello to everyone is a great start. (And try to view the more negative posts as simply more evidence of the problem, and use them as inspiration to push in the other direction.)

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sat 24-Jan-15 21:47:00

Quite recently, a Muslim boy in my DS's class was reduced to tears because he had read a comment on social media to the effect that all Muslims love guns. His classmates - representing a mix of cultures and creeds - rallied round to comfort him. But these are sensitive and intelligent boys. There are many individuals who, quite wrongly of course, conflate Islam and terrorism.

Not so long ago, a Jewish friend told me that she senses a growing anti-Semitic sentiment around her.

There does seem to be a feeling of fragmentation and a lack of trust amongst those with different belief systems, even here in the (relatively) strife-free and stable UK.

I think you are already doing a wonderful job, OP, through the simple act of offering a nod of recognition, a smile or a hello to all. It may not seem like much to you but if everyone were to adopt this habit, the cumulative effect would be deeply significant.

Moving on from the individual level to the community level, I do have a vision of how tolerance and friendship might be fostered.

In response to the decline of Christianity in this country, I would like to see some churches diversifying and becoming centres of enlightenment for all – by which I mean central hubs where people of all faiths and none can come together to share thoughts, worship freely, attend lectures on religion, philosophy and science, break bread together, pray or just sit in quiet reflection and also find ways to work together to care for the sick and vulnerable within the community.

No, I don't know where the funds would come from. It's just what this idealistic dreamer would like to see happening as a way of bringing more cohesion to our beautifully diverse but fractured society.

(By the way, I'm an atheist.)

niminypiminy Sat 24-Jan-15 21:54:14

"central hubs where people of all faiths and none can come together to share thoughts, worship freely, attend lectures on religion, philosophy and science, break bread together, pray or just sit in quiet reflection and also find ways to work together to care for the sick and vulnerable within the community."

That's a great vision -- and there are really quite a lot of churches that already have that vision.

OddBoots Sat 24-Jan-15 22:20:32

Thank you all for the comments, even the ones with which I can't agree, they all add to the discussion.

My vicar would be a good place to start, thank you for that suggestion LurcioAgain.

I like the idea of churches opening up more, especially in this time when local authority funding means so much community stuff is being cut. I think quite a few places are very involved in food banks and other hands-on measures but the reflective aspect is perhaps not quite as available.

woodhill Sun 25-Jan-15 09:28:13

there was a really interesting article in a christian magazine about Egypt about a church and mosque joining together and becoming a hospital as well as a place of worship whilst all the upheaval was going on,

bigbluestars Sun 25-Jan-15 10:52:25

"Big blue your whole attitude is proof positive of the hostility of some atheists."

buffy- no a reaction to the christian interference in my life. If christians were to butt out and keep their crap to themselves I would be happy.

specialsubject Sun 25-Jan-15 12:07:51

teach your kids about open-mindedness and spreading the word.

for instance, Israel is generally portrayed as the total villain in the Gaza issue. They aren't. No, that doesn't mean they are innocent but their kids are getting shot at too.

there is always more than one side to a story.

I also like the mention of the important difference between 'insulting' a belief (which is free speech) and insulting a person (which is abuse).

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