Sunday, September 03, 2006

'Muslim': The New Race

At some point in history, Jews became an ethnicity as well as a religion. Now, it seems that some are also trying to make 'Muslim' into an ethnicity as well. Even those that are not Muslim are put into the 'Muslim' racial category.

This article should demonstrate why 'profiling' will not work. Especially in light of the fact that if this guy and this guy shaved their beards, and called themselves "Johnny" and "Mike", they would pass right through the profiling.

Shows just how fluid race can potentially be here in America as well. A white woman or a Latina with hijab becomes Palestinian. A Palestinian woman without becomes a Latina. A white guy with a long beard instantly becomes an Arab. A Latin man can sometimes be mistaken for an Arab and vice versa. I suppose all Indians are Muslim too. I heard a skit in which a man was told by his Indian employee "...but I am Hindu" to which he responded "I don't care what kind of Muslim you are"

Muslims can fall into this too as I remember an Arab walked up to a biracial Muslim friend of mine and started speaking to him in Arabic assuming that he was Arab.

Be sure to look at the pictures of the different Muslims the war on terror heads into its sixth year, a new racial stereotype is emerging in America. Brown-skinned men with beards and women with head scarves are seen as "Muslims" -- regardless of their actual faith or nationality. Law enforcement measures, politicians, religious leaders and the media have contributed to stereotyping Muslims as a race -- echoing the painful history of another faith.


The Muslim caricature has ensnared Hindus, Mexicans and others across the country with violence, suspicion and slurs. And it has given new form to this country's age-old dance around racial identity.

With fair skin, green eyes and brown hair, Dailyah Patt is white. But when she puts on a head scarf, Patt has discovered, people see her as something altogether different. The Modesto-born convert to Islam has had people categorize her as Palestinian, and she's been told: "Go back to your own country."

So Patt removes the hijab, as the head scarf is commonly referred to, when she goes to job interviews or has to fly.

"I can pass as Christian," said Patt, 27, a Palo Alto resident, who was frustrated by repeated airport security interrogations until she stopped wearing a scarf.

She feels "oppressed" for feeling forced into shedding a required article of the faith.


Patt and Khalil's experiences show how race works, say scholars who
study the phenomenon: People often project their assumptions onto others based on physical characteristics, even ignoring their own experience.


"You can't define what a Muslim looks like," said Saifulloh Amath, 23, a San Jose resident who is Cham, an ethnic group native to Vietnam and Cambodia. His family has been Muslim as long as it can trace. But he is taken for a "devout Buddhist."


Racial stereotyping is also present within the Muslim community. Muslims were among the slaves imported from Africa at least as early as the 1600s. And African Americans later established mosques around the nation. Yet, African American Muslims have long complained that Arab Muslims don't treat them as full members of the faith.

"When you're an African American Muslim, you're dealing with two kinds of bigotry: the bigotry of white America and also with Arab bigotry," said Adisa Banjoko, 36, of Fremont.

Typecasting Muslims as a race


DA said...

Good article.

Also important, though maybe less so at this point, is getting rid of the "cultural muslim" nonsense coming from MWU-types. It's the same bizarre idea (Muslims are a 'race') used by non-practicing Muslims oftentimes to put themselves above sincere converts, and results in Arabs, desis, etc who do not even claim to believe in god and his messenger claiming to speak for "Muslims".

Anonymous said...

yeh and on the tyra banks show they put "who gets it worst, black white muslim latino or asian"

pretty damn stupid if you ask me

and DA
true dat

Jamerican Muslimah said...

I can relate to the article. I am a Jamaican American who never experienced such discrimination and prejudice until I donned hijab shortly before 9/11. Whereas I was once a Black woman or a Black Caribbean woman, I suddenly became SE Asian, Arab, North or East African. It's crazy!

M. Shahin said...

Good post! I don't think racial profiling will work either. The 'war on terror' is continuing down the wrong path.