Islam and Young British Muslims

Topics: Islam, Human rights, Religion Pages: 6 (2040 words) Published: November 8, 2013
Education Studies 420 is primarily concerned with human rights and teacher professionalism. A human right can be defined as ‘an inalienable right to which a person is inherently entitled, simply because he or she is a human being’ (Willem 2004). This assignment will attempt to identify a particular human rights concern i.e. Islamophobia, which I would personally like to raise awareness about.

Islamophobia is ‘a neologism (a term in the process of common use) used generally to refer to prejudice against, hatred towards, irrational fear of, or racism towards Muslims’ (Wikipedia). Just by making a judgement on the above definition, it is unacceptable to be prejudice, have hatred or fear towards, or be racist towards any person based on their religion. As a human being, every Muslim has a right to practice their religion freely, as would a Christian, Hindu or Jew etc. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’ This then, would explain why Islamophobia goes against Human Rights. It is shallow for an individual to pass judgment on an entire group of people based solely on the actions of a few. The fact is, no religion permits any acts of violence or terrorism, and those who commit such crimes, should not be associated with any religion at all.

Events such as the 9/11 attack, as well as the most recent attack at the Westgate Mall in Kenya, have resulted in an increased focus, suspicion and awareness of Muslims throughout the world. This topic hits home not only because I am a proud and practicing Muslim, but also because I am a future educator who will without a doubt one day be faced with and challenged by such global issues. Although there has been a lot of insight and documentation on the topic itself, very little attention has been given to the actual post effects (of the above incidents) in relation to Muslims, especially the youth in relation to society, but more importantly, education.

In an essay by Farah Shaik (2006), she speaks about the possible implications on the educational settings for young British Muslims. She states that: ‘With respect to young British Muslims, interviews conducted by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia showed that young Muslim women and men both felt that despite having ‘high hopes and aspirations’, they felt ‘frequently unwelcome in British society’ and ‘therefore uncertain about their personal future, not least because of the offensive Islamophobia they meet in their everyday lives in interaction with other students’ (Muir and Smith, 2004: 47).’

Similarly, there exists an article by Engy (2011), titled ‘Islamophobic Bullying in Our Schools’, in which she shares an experience of a boy named Omar, who had been victimised and bullied, not only by his classmates, but by the teacher as well. This comes as a result of his Muslim faith and Arab ancestry. "You boys were so much fun on the 8th grade trip! Thanks for not bombing anything while we were there!” This was the yearbook inscription penned by the middle school teacher. When questioned about it, all she said was ‘it was a joke’. Were there no further consequences to the behaviour of this specific teacher? As a person of authority, the only example she set was the fact that it was okay to treat the learner the way she did, and this obviously impacted on the attitudes of the rest of the learners, so how does one expect it to stop? That brings me to question, is there anything being done about it at a school level? Bullying, as we know it, has serious long and short term effects on young children, but what about bullying based on culture and religion? According to an article by Abdul Malik Mujahid (2013),...

References: Willem J.M, (2004), Human Rights Reference Handbook
Definition, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamophobia
The Universal Declaration of Human rights, retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Shaik, F. (2006), Islamophobia in the British Educational Sector? – Looking at possible implications of post- 9/11 and 7/7 educational settings for young British Muslims.
AbdelKader, E. (2011), Islamophobic Bullying in Our Schools
Mujahid, A, M. (2013), Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim children
Ankara, (2013), Todays Zaman: Islamophobia is an attack on human dignity
Haque, A. (2004) Islamophobia in North America: confronting the menace. In Van Driel. B. (ed.) Confronting Islamophobia in Educational Practice (pp.1-18). Staffordshire, England/ Sterling, USA: Trentham Books Limited.
Guinness Book of World Records, (2003), pg. 142
Tackling Islamophobia:advice for schools and colleges, retrieved from http://www.nasuwt.org.uk/consum/groups/public/@education/documents/nas_download/nasuwt_004309.pdf
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