The Pathologisation of Muslims As Everything That is Wrong With Europe

By Farish A. Noor ~ December 3rd, 2009. Filed under: Syndicated Columns.

The recent ban on the construction of minarets for mosques in Switzerland - passed by a majority of Swiss citizens mind you - is symptomatic of something that is far more disturbing in Western Europe today. The first decade of this century has witnessed the rise of a new wave of extreme right-wing politicians and political parties across Western Europe, some with scant regard for ideological consistency and coherence, with the sole purpose of mobilising the masses against the perceived ‘threat’ of foreigners in general and Muslims in particular.

But historians will note that these developments are neither new nor unique. After all, Europe has continually been through such prolonged instances of moral panic and mass hysteria when it had to face the fact that it was and is part of a bigger world where other cultural and religious possibilities exist, and where alterity can one day arrive at your doorstep. Looking back to the 19th century we recall the bad old days when Western Europeans were panicking at the thought of the dreaded ‘yellow peril’, and where fear of the massive and sudden migration of Asians - notably Chinese - led to a backlash that expressed itself through the stereotypes and cliches of Asians as devious and perfidious Orientals who would stop at nothing to eat up your property and sell opium to your children. Then came the recurrent fear of Indian, Africans and of course Arabs.

The present climate of fear over and about Islam and Muslims is therefore something that comes in the train of a long history of Othering the Other, and casting the other as alien, strange, exotic and sometimes potentially malevolent and dangerous. Except in this case we are talking about a Western Europe where Muslims have become part of the social fabric and where Muslim settlement dates back to the post-war decades of the 1950s, with the migration of Indians, Africans, West Indians and North Africans to the continent.

For a host of reasons, the success and failure of the various immigrant communities in Europe has been uneven. While some communities have successfully climbed up the social-economic ladder, others have lagged behind. Compounding the difficulties are the prevailing stereotypes that make up the normative structure of racialised capitalism and post-colonial race-relations. Arabs in the West suffer particular abuse and racial stereotyping in this regard, for the media and popular culture continue to present them as ghetto-bound misfits and pathologically violent maladjusted figures who stand out in bold relief against the domesticated background of multicultural society. Until today, the perception remains that Arabs in particular are prone to violence, domestic abuse, misogyny and a host of social ills that seem to point to the primordial past of Europe that Europeans wish to forget. Cast in that light, Arabs seem to be framed as the figures of defeat and failure, as if the Enlightenment project itself could not go that far and could not ‘rescue’ these people who are beyond redemption, due to their culture and religion.

But hang on… Since when are individuals determined essentially and totally by culture, history or religion? And why is it that in the case of Arab-Muslims in particular there is no latitude given to free will, agency and the potential for self-transformation?

A vicious cycle seems to have been created by this dialectic between stereotypes and limited opportunity structures: Arabs are seen as incompatible with the West and whatever the latter stands for, and as such are less likely to be given the chance to succeed and reinvent themselves. I sadly note that in all the years that I taught in Europe, I did not have a single Arab-Muslim student to supervise at Masters or Phd level. The stereotype has become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It is against this context that the ban on minarets and mosques in Switzerland has to be understood. Coming at a time when Dutch politicians like Geert Wilders are calling for a re-think over the place and belonging of Muslims in Holland; all of this bodes ill for Europe’s own perception of itself and its place in the world. If Arab Muslims in Switzerland (as in Holland, France, Germany and elsewhere) fit in less today, perhaps these politicians ought to ask themselves what they have done - or not done - to give these people the same opportunity structures they expect and demand for themselves?

Europe’s multicultural project seems to be failing, but that is not because European Muslims cannot fit in or refuse to do so. The one thing that none of these right-wing European politicians want to admit or address is the institutionalised modes of racism and discrimination that have led to the marginalisation of communities that yearned to belong but were told that they did not. Until that is addressed, banning mosques and minarets will do little or nothing to solve Europe’s own troubled conscience as it seeks to define its multicultural project anew.

67 Responses to The Pathologisation of Muslims As Everything That is Wrong With Europe

  1. pai kia

    “communities that yearned to belong but were told that they did not”. I like this quote.

  2. Hamid

    Stop blame others! There is many other religious people in West, why only muslims has been marginalised?

  3. Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza)

    For once, I do not agree with Prof. Farish Noor! Europe and its mostly progressive Western civilisation, which is mainly Christian West, is being imposed with extreme arrogance by Al-Qaeda led/constructed Dark Age sexist, sadist and fascist Arabic culture (we are talking about CULTURE, not race - so stop with simplistic and typical ‘racism’ accusation there! ) Such is the Arabic culture, that homogenizes (such as the primitive veiling of women/girls particularly in savage Burkhas including in the West - imagine the horror of unfortunate Westerners!) and ruled with an increasing brutal iron grip, how and what kind of Islam should be practised, on what used to be diverse Muslim identities, whether of self, cultural and ethnic identities, from East to West, globally, including in dynamically multicultural and used to be modern Malaysia (remember the great P. Ramlee times!)! These kind of Dark Age Muslims, who are Islamists (who politicize Islam) deceitfully and selectively exploit UDHR, but only to protect their (usually male-Arabic identity)interest; but could not give a toss about other human rights, which are all equally important, nor other beings human rights, whether of ordinary Muslim believers, particularly women/girls and gays, and non-Muslims!

    Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza)

  4. Mattster

    Aaaahhh….Farish, I expected better from you.

    Before I comment on your article, let me say that as a former Malaysian it is somewhat comical, maybe even ironic, to see a Muslim Malaysian commenting about the virtues of multiculturalism and discrimination against Muslims in Europe, when today in Malaysia; entire Sunday church services are being held in private homes and shop-houses that barely resemble a place of worship, because getting a permit and a piece of land to build a proper “house of worship” is a near impossible task for any non-Muslim group.

    I should know since I was just back in Malaysia this past year and attended a Christmas service in a building that did not have any outward signs of a traditional church and not even so much as a cross to even indicate that it was a church. When I asked the parishioners about why this was so, I was told that they wanted to be “discreet”, as some local Muslim groups had raised heckles about a church being so close to nearby Muslim areas.

    Does this story sound familiar, Farish ?? Do you see decapitated cows circling your head ??

    But leaving Malaysia aside, lets take a good hard look at the European situation. Switzerland, Scandinavia and many other smaller nations in Europe were for the longest time entirely homogeneous populations unlike countries like the US, India, Malaysia, and even the UK.

    These countries with their liberal social values welcomed Muslims mainly thru refugee resettlement programs, asylum applications, and some thru labor needs.

    Unfortunately for these countries, there are a couple of “unique pathologies” that are fairly common among Muslim societies.

    Let me list 2 of them here:

    1) When Muslim are in the majority, they tend to be very aggressive towards their minority non-Muslim communties and marginalize them. This is an established practice in every part of the Muslim world that has non-Muslim minorities.

    2) But when Muslims are in the minority, they are also the ones to cry the loudest about victimhood, their human rights, and discrimination.

    If you want to see the underbelly of Muslim immigration to Europe with all its warts, then just go to any predominantly Pakistani/Bangladeshi neighbourhood in London. Everything from endless azan calls at every waking hour of the day, to honor killings, burqas, demonstrations for sharia law, Taliban lookalike men, etc, are on display every single day in English towns in the name of what - multiculturalism ??

    By the same token, isnt it peculiar that a country like the UK with all its messy problems with Muslim communities, has a large number of Hindus and Sikhs as well who by and large are very well integrated, successful, and respect the culture, values and ethos of British civil society.

    Now, can anyone with a straight face honestly blame the Swiss for not wanting to repeat the English experience in “multiculturalism”.

  5. Jude

    Just like what we have here in Malaysia, albeit with the roles reversed.

  6. Benjamin tan

    Well, how come no one questions Saudi Arabia when no churches or any other religious buildings are allow to be build?

    Can we say then Saudi Arabian is racist and barbaric?

  7. Paul Warren

    Farish, why should anyone bother with the Muslim migrant just because they are Muslim?

    My family lives as migrants in a Western country down under. I cannot see any dispensation rendered to my kids just because they are Asian. I can see that they regarded no differently from any citizen or native. And my kids too don’t ask for any exclusivity just because they are migrants. Of course it is easier for them as they are able to fit into the social and religious fabric that already is there. For those needing something new, as in temples, synagogues, mosques and so on, there is not a problem. Of course they are not permitted the megaphone just as the traditional houses of worship do not have these either.

    If you see exceptions arising, especially in the last decade or so, it is because the Muslims have begun to demand for more. To live differently. To educate their kids differently. To have laws of their own even. To celebrate the 9/11 instead of reviling it. To praise Al Qaeda instead of being opposed to it. To support suicide bombers instead of reviling them. To dress differently and to comment on the living styles, standards and mores of the traditional occupants of the land. So sure, when like in Denmark and Holland when they take arms as well and destroy property, you will find people like Wilders and more coming out. What is Wilders really saying? You want ot come here to Denmark, this is how we live. Live like us. If you can’t just go!!

  8. soul survivor

    welcome to the realworld.perceptions are created.secular politics itself is an art of’s economy is fast becoming a web of perceptions.the equity markets are up for grab to the perception-provocateurs to make a killing.that’s why we have this so-called brainy strategy of ‘hit and run’!when all these economic and politico perception-manouverings played within and around deep into the social fabrics…the full cycle is damn completed and the world is ‘up-for-grab’!!!present human system has FAILED,either we admit it or not.THE DESTRUCTION IS IN THE HAND OF THE FEWs.when america went in to destroy iraq…it was never a decision of the american people but a fews in the name of mr.bush and the lobbyists working for the MASTER.the master wanted to banish iraq so the dogs wagged their tails!….thus the foreplay devilish art of perceptions was triggered.suddenly u got a new global jargon came up WMD!!even the owner of the so-called WMD,mr, saddam himself didn’t know what the hell was that!the rest was history……the same goes with al-qaeda,9/11,muslim militants.and in our local front…the jargons of ketuanan melayu,etc etc are plain products of umno’s politico perceptions to please its MASTER.and the master is LUST,MONEY and GREED….and back to the iraq war…we can find the answer in the the issue of the minarets is tooooooo trivial UNLESS……!!!

  9. hahaha

    In Malaysia can, in Europe cannot? They have every right to do so, just like the Malays in Malaysia have every right to do so. And you forgot to mention the worse the Europeans have done, to the Jews in the Holocaust.

  10. swipenter

    Dear Farish,

    From my experience in Europe I was robbed twice by Arabs once in France and the other time in Belgium not to say that the white Europeans are angels for I had bad experience with their immigration officers in France and Germany. Just my luck I guess. Back home are we any different when the minorities are being actively and officially sidelined and marginalised all in the name of Ketuanan Melayu? So many of us are voting with our feet and what about those who cant vote with their feet? Like the Arabs in Europe, would one fine day our minorities resort to violence as a form of protest when pushed against the wall? Our right wing politicians seem to think that they can only threaten the minorities with violence and the minority would simply submit meekly.

  11. lim

    Will Saudi Arabia allow churches be built?

  12. Fess

    More self pitying drivel. I suppose the irony is lost on the author lecturing Europe on tolerance and inclusiveness from a country which which has raised racism to an art form. A country with a plethora of laws designed to stamp down on it’s Chinese and Indian population while favouring the Malay majority. Europes Chinese and Indians are doing pretty well thank you very much. In Europe they can get to whatever educational level they wish without first having to get in line behind less bright “natives” who have places reserved for them based only on race and religion. And you know what? They are thriving in this environment and Europe is all the richer for having them. They jump on every opportunity available and leave the excuse making and self defeating culture of victimhood to others.

  13. Dr. Shahzrin Wallis Abdullah

    Dear Farish,

    I have appreciated your views on past issues.

    But on this issue, I must disagree with you.

    The Europeans are a cultured and accepting lot in general.

    The problem is Muslims impose too much of their religion on the way of life of the local citizens of Europe.

    The political Islam and the very fundamental flavour of Islam practiced by the majority is something to worry about, and the Europeans are right to worry about this.

    The Europeans may have had fears about other races coming and upsetting their system, but this is a fair and valid concern.

    Even in Malaysia, we have have tight and stringent immigration laws that prevent immigrants from other parts of the world from coming in BECAUSE we are scared Malay dominance and Islamic dominance will be lost, etc.

    The Europeans treat the Muslims very well as far as my travels across Europe — France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain has shown.

    The problem is with the majority of Muslims and the dominant ideology in Islam which calls for the transformation of the world into an Islamic realm.

    Islam itself needs to be renewed and tempered down and made more moderate and more in line with secular principles.

  14. born2reign

    Before we start criticising other countries with better human right records, why don’t you start with abolishing racism and Ketuanan Melayu (master-slavery) culture in Malaysia?

    Europeans have freedom of speech and religion, which the Arabs and Muslims are taking advantage of, in their favour.

    In Malaysia, Muslims have no freedom of speech and religion, at the same time oppressing the minorities financially and socially.

    I’ve always wondered why Muslims would choose to stay in a Western country, why are Muslims not attracted to the Muslim culture in Arab countries? Having lived the system of Muslim politics and the lawlessness of Islamic judges oppressing the minorities, I cannot wait to leave Islam culture behind. Islam culture rewards evil and punishes the good. Islam culture is a curse to nation building.

  15. Amita Chong

    Oh please. Give me a break. since independence no churches with crosses have been allowed to be built in malaysia. what about s.13 shah alam. what about bibles and crosses being banned in saudi arabia. what about the killings of christians in Indonesia. What about Southern Thai Muslims bombing buddhists. And this is in so called moderate Muslim populations.

    “Let’s begin with Egypt. Coptic Christians form ten percent of the population; however, they don’t even have one representative in the Legislative Assembly! Recently, when some Christians tried to enlarge their church building in Al Minya Province, they faced a violent reaction from their Muslim neighbors, who upon leaving their mosque after the Friday morning prayer, beat up and wounded many Christians and forced them to stop their work on the church!
    “In Gaza, a Christian was abducted and murdered early in October, 2007. He had done nothing wrong, except that he happened to be of the Christian faith, and was in charge of the Bible Society bookstore!
    “In Iraq, two priests were abducted; one was 35, and the other 65 years old. Those who abducted them demanded one million dollars for a ransom. Many Christians were forced to leave their homes; daily they
    face discrimination based on their religious commitment. “As for Lebanon, they’re having extreme difficulty to elect a Maronite (Christian) president, due to a series of assassinations that were directed mainly against Christian men. “And let’s not forget the forced marriages that take place in Jordan, and in other Arab countries. A Christian girl is forced to change her religion, upon “marrying” a Muslim. Quite often, when such marriages end in divorce, these young women are not allowed to return to their previous faith. On their official ID cards, they are listed as “bila deen” i.e. without religion! Sound familiar in our country?

    What about Darfur, islamist Janjaweed murdering and raping anything NOT MUSLIM.

    In UK there are at least Muslim/Asian descent MPs in their Parliament. Recently a female Muslim British MP was egged by muslim men for not being ‘pious’ enough.

    Muslims demand the bloody world when they go anywhere. But never ever do they give back the same service to other people. All that drivel about peace and tolerance and understanding. All only lip service. I’ve even read/watched documentaries about non arab muslims being discriminated upon in Mekah while doing the pilgrimage because they don’t look ‘arab/brown’ enough. IE the whites and the blacks.

    And Mr. Farish, have you EVER BEEN to those neighbourhoods in lets say East London where the population is ALL Muslim Asians?? Holy Hell it’s a dump!!! And it’s common sight all over UK! Whole neighbourhoods degenerate into absolute dumps and the community is so reclusive and refuse to become part of mainstream British society because it’s not MUSLIM enough. So the question is then why even move to these European nations if you insist on living the same way you did in your home nation? I really don’t blame the Swiss for wanting to prevent parts of their country degenerating into these ghettos seen in France and Britain.

    And as far as I know all these European countries have laws against discrimination based on skin / ethnicity/ religion. What do the Arab/Muslim nations have? Most of the time, open discrimination against anyone who is NOT muslim.

    You will get the respect you deserve. It is reciprocal.

  16. DJ

    Both the west and, with it’s present closed mind, Malaysia are finished. That’s why I moved from Malaysia after ten years of watching the insidious reversion to a third world backwater since Mahatir stepped down.

    Very sad.

  17. cruz

    Arab-Muslims “victimized”???
    As far as I know, they get a much better deal economically in their new homes, when their own kind have repressed them in their motherlands. So, Who’s victimizing whom here?

    But they wanna raise a hue & cry, when they don’t get the same freedom - which they themselves wouldn’t advocate for others?
    Get a grip, Farish - this is the typical hypocrisy of those who seek to sabotage a way of life the west has been comfortable with for centuries.
    Get real …

  18. cruz

    btw, since when has a minaret been a necessity for a mosque? Many states have controls on architecture …. so why should mosques be exempt?
    Can’t they pray without minarets??

  19. mercury rising

    Farish Noor,

    As a admirer of your intellect and well-reasoned views expressed in your past writings, I am most sad to read this article by you - of all people, a Muslim who i thought would be one of the rare shining lights to lead Malaysia out of the darkness brought about by UMNO’s greed and reckless disregards for the Nation’s future, through it’s blatant abuse & exploitation of Islam and implementation of divisive policies to perpetuate Ketuanan Melayu and racism.

    Paul Warren, Mattster, Katharina Sri, born2reign, AmitaChong’s comments struck the nail on head & poignantly express the frustrations of & injustices suffered by the marginalized non-Muslim-minority citizens in Malaysia & non-Muslims in other Muslim-dominant countries.

    Tell me, “jaundice-eye” Farish (which you sadly expose yourself to be in this article), which is worse and should deserve your wrath more?!

    Our own Malaysian BN government’s abuse & exploitation of Islam for its own disgraceful ends, its hypocritical and corrupt practices and blatant discrimination against other races just because they are not Muslims OR an issue of such trivial importance which you had chosen to give credence to in this article of yours instead of first understanding the underlying reasons why the majority of the Swiss voted against the construction of minarets (which as commenter “cruz” so correctly pointed out, is NOT a neccessity for a mosque. I’m sure Allah/God could NOT care less if out of neccessity that one can only pray to him in a toilet!! I’m doubt many would disagree with me when i say that “substance is more important than appearance” to Him!!!)

    Thus, with a most heavy and disappointed heart, i end by saying this, “Farish, you are not who i thought - one of the shining & leading lights to lead & save Muslims from themselves & Malays from racism and extremism.”

    I, for one, would dearly love to see you prove me wrong, Farish A. Noor !!!

  20. anoynomus


    This is what we call taste your own medicine ! These muslims dont give a damn about others welfare and now want cry out loud ha ! how is it feel to be in the other shoe !
    wherever part in the world these people are ,they create problems an restlessness in the area , china ,southern thailand , southern philipines , malaysia ,indonesia ,pakistan,afghan,bangladesh ,london …not to mention all the great middle east countries…what a great religion !!!
    They major problem in the world with religion is none other than the one and only religion is these people !!
    peace of advice — its only worth practice in deserts !

  21. Playyfair

    We Muslims need burial grounds that face the kiblat (bearing in mind the scarcity and value of land in Europe) and to be allowed to conduct korban according to Muslim rites (even though in abattoirs) in countries that abhor cruelty to animals. Should we not be looking at ourselves and attempting modernization without losing the Muslim identity? It will be unnecessary to repeat here the discrimination that “Others’ face in a exemplary Muslim Malaysia.

  22. RK

    Abandon yourselves from the shackles of religion and a closed mind and breathe the fresh air of seeing thing as it is in this world! The world needs this more than ever now. Minarets, mosques, churches and deities of yore etc - maybe needed at one time but now they all belong to the past and should stay there!

  23. Major (Rtd) D.Swami

    Farish, Farish you are spinning. There have been around 14,000 plus attacks by Muslims all over the world. Why will not the Swiss feel worried? Yeah, one question, did you do your HSC or the STPM, before you went to University? If the answer is negative, then you should look at yourself in the mirror. You got Govt scholarships? If affirmative, pls do not preach. Condescending too.

    When Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan proclaims that, “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the (Muslim) faithful our soldiers”, a culture war is being telegraphed that only the blind can ignore. Turkey’s own planned entry into the EU parallels the bayonets and soldiers spreading across Europe. Swiss voters decided that they did not want any more Muslim bayonets in their country, thank you very much. If an honest referendum were held on the subject in just about any First World country, the results would be much the same. And every politician in office who bows his head to Mecca and praises Islam to the heavens knows it too.

    And if Muslims feel aggrieved, then maybe it is time we had a rational conversation about rights and responsibilities. And perhaps when there are churches and synagogues in Mecca, then there can be minarets in Switzerland. Perhaps when synagogues in Europe do not need to build tall walls around themselves and churches do not need guards against arsonists– then no one will protect rising Islamic demographics. For the moment though Muslims demand at the point of a bayonet, what they are not willing to grant to others. And in the fact of such unrelieved dogmatic hostility and intolerance, any talk of equality transforms democracy into nothing more than a suicide pact. Read the whole piece here…

    Another nice one:
    The Wall Street Journal story on the Swiss minaret vote had a great quote in it, from a Jamal-on-the-street interview in Turkey (the source of most Muslims in Switzerland):Cavid Aksin, an Istanbul metalworker, was angered that the referendum coincided with the end of one of the most important religious feasts in the Muslim calendar. “I think Turkey should have a referendum on whether to close down its churches,” he said.You mean churches like Hagia Sophia? Or the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross? Or the Halki Seminary? After 1,400 years of closing down churches, the gall is unbelievable. National Review

  24. Hatta Alkaff

    I remember working for an international organisation whose portfolio included taking up cudgels against mistreatment of Muslims living in North America and Europe. We churned out one protest letter after another, accompanied by short and lengthy essays on the subject. I admit I was caught up in the furore, feeling sympathy for any mistreatment of my Muslim brethren by the ‘wicked West’.

    One day, we received a letter from a Muslim woman living in the UK. While she praised us for the work we did, she also lamented that we were woefully ignorant of the fact that Muslim women were also the victims of mistreatment by fellow Muslims. At that time, my reaction was to cast the letter aside and ignore it. How could Muslims living in foreign lands possibly be instigators, when they were clearly the victims? How naive I was then.

    Now every time I hear news about bombings and the violent snuffing out of innocent lives, chances are Muslim hands are involved. When will Malaysia be targeted? How long can the world tolerate all this violence before they react?

    Isn’t it ironic that of all the peoples in the world, the Jews and the Muslims are the ones who cry out most often about being persecuted?

  25. Dravid

    Whenever a Muslim is threatened in any form or manner, the whole muslim community shouts foul. I cant think of any muslim in modern times who fought for the rights of another race or religion except for Raja Petra. As a person you would feel pain when something bad happens to the people who share the same language or faith with you. As you evolve to become more spiritual you will feel the same pain when others irrespective of religion or race suffer in different circumstances. The deploring refugee camps in sri lanka housing tamils would have been an international issue if they were muslims or christians. What about persons whom are not allowed to renounce their religion to embrace the faith they are comfortable with. Farish do you know how it feels when temples are destroyed, beheaded cow head is displayed or opportunities denied in education and govt jobs at home. Farish When it happens to your people it is pain full right, what about us minorities what do we do.We have to obey because you are the majority here, and that is not considered discrimination but right of the majority.

    Applying the same right of the majority practiced in Malaysia and other Muslim countries like pakistan, arab etc No melayu should speak about the mineret that is banned because it is the right of the majority correct. I just laugh at the sense of justice you guys try to dispense.

    God Bless You & My Beloved Country I Long To Belong

  26. Fess

    This is by no means the most extreme example of Islamic intolerance I could offer, believe me the world is packed with examples, but it is fresh and perfectly demonstrates the Islamic tendency to dominance:

    You may hit that link with comfort this is not a link to a jihadist video or a Saudi beheading or anything on those lines. However I’d be happy for Farish A. Noor to pontificate on this subject instead of handing out lectures to Europeans on tolerance and inclusiveness. It’s behaviour such as this which is giving Europeans the chills. Why else don’t Europeans get worked up about Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Zoroastrians etc? Hint: you won’t need 3000 words to answer.

  27. soul survivor

    so there u are i said u are one damn cunning slimy umno agent-provocateurs.once u played up the racial-religio sentiments,u succeded in getting what u wanted…..more hatred among and within!!!it’s pity that the days that prophet Muhammad pbup had forewarned..the days of FITNAH…is enmass today.yr style of ‘writing-behind-the-lines’ again and again surfacing actively whenever yr MASTER is drumming a specific issue.the umno establishment is desperate in clinging to power and what best way to hang on to it by FANNING the same old dirty tricks of ‘DIVIDE AND RULE’… my beloved malaysians…chinese,malays,indians,dayaks,christians,buddhists,hindus etc etc…GET THE BULL BY THE HORN AND DON’T EVER MISLED AND START GRABBING ITS TAIL COZ U SHALL BE KICKED BY ITS LEG HARD…AND YET THE BULL FREED AND ESCAPED!!!!

  28. Capt.Shariff Abbas

    ,,,Deterioration in human relations is often caused by poor relationship skills and low consideration for other people, taking others for granted, ignoring and belittling them plus in general a lack of love, kindness and virtures.
    ,,,Fortunately, world-wide experience shows that such failures can still be avoided/reversed plus obstacles can be overcome with ensuring gratification. Much has still to be done by world leaders plus individuals too, through selflessness, sincerity, respect, rapport and co-operation, combined with the willingness to solve differences amicably with compromise and mutual benefits.
    ,,,A good advise to those interested to make this a better world for the younger generation and for all of us presently is to consider improving oneself too. The ability to listen unconditionally, to empathise, to compromise and reconcile shows kindness/courage/strength of character will indeed save good relationship together in humanity.
    ,,,what/why are we here for ?…for the betterment i hope and pray too ??.
    ,,,frustrations, sure everyone has it but lets take positive steps together to overcome them.


  29. kevin low

    wow. thats a whole lot of flak i will not need to add to. but i do need to ask farish noor to please respond to the replies, some of which are less polite, but almost all of which do ring true. i need to know if you personally feel you had not written with a clear mind, or if you still defend your position on this particular issue. please do let us know what it is youve been thinking since your entry.

  30. mycuntree

    I think all the previous comments are good representations of how non muslim feel about the islamic religion and its adherents’ actual behavior and mentality. And that’s the saddest truth. Unless and until muslims take a deep and serious review of their actual practices against all that is good about islam, non muslims are justified in their views of the negative aspects of the religion.

    For any Malaysian muslims who are opposed to the decision of the Swiss citizens, they must at the same time reckon with what their country is doing to other religions in return.

  31. Mattster

    Farish, this article of yours about the “stigmatization of Muslims in Europe”, is a good segue into a much needed debate about the insidious phenomenon of the aggressive, condescending, dismissive attitudes that Islamic majority and minority societies project towards non-Muslim faiths, and especially against non-abrahamic faiths.

    Unfortunately knowing how Islamic societies work; this debate can only resonate if these questions are raised by a Muslims themselves.
    A non-Muslim raising these issues will simply be dismissed as Islamophobe by Muslims.

    As you can see from the responses to your column from many parts of the world; there is a unanimity of opinion on this subject.

    It seems to me like the non-Muslim world is begining to understand that there are certain “unsavory pathological characteristics” for the lack of a better word, that are very unique to Muslims societies.

    It is my view from personally observing Muslim societies that Islam breeds a certain myth about the superiority of Islam.
    This creates a huge problem that Muslims cannot reconcile within themselves - the fact that many of the world’s worst countries with the highest corruption, poverty, violence, cruelty, and social injustice are Muslim majority countries.

    Thomas Friedman of the New York Times(whom I dont always see eye-to-eye with) made a telling comment about Islam and the way Muslims feel about other faiths by comparing to software releases.

    He said that Muslims think of Islam as version 3.0, Christianity - version 2.0, Judaism - version 1.0, and Hinduism/Buddhism - version 0.0.

    I tend to agree with Mr. Friedman on this score.

    The standard reply from Muslims to these comments, is to simply say that a few bad apples is not indicative of the true message of Islam.

    The problem with this often repeated lame response is that a few bad apples in every basket renders your whole harvest toast.

    Let me conclude by saying that if you really want to understand the concerns of Europeans with regards to Islam; then my humble suggestion to folks like you who straddle that narrow divide of the liberal Muslim intelligentsia should stop beating around the bush and start asking the really tough, controversial, politically incorrect questions about Islam.

    And hopefully, for your sake Farish, I hope you dont get slapped with a fatwa asking for your head on a platter !!

  32. dasmean

    Aiyoh Farish,

    Firstly, I’d like to let you know that I’ve never posted a single comment in my life, typically I just enjoy a good read, usually I simply have a moment of pause and reflection at the many posts, but more typically find myself having a good laugh at the many delectable comments to be found throughout the worldwide web, but for reasons beyond me I feel compelled add a thought of my own here.

    I often wonder how frustrated learned academics, in particular Malaysian commentators must feel when openly airing thoughts and views. Malaysians of all racial backgrounds seam to have been so indelibly dumbed down for so many years that I am afraid the result is a lamentable situation where taking any position at all seams to inevitably result in the verbal impalement by ones fellow countrymen. Having read the comments i felt quite sad, it appears that just because they can string together a coherent thought in decent english, and clearly they have a modicum of intellect as many of their arguments are quite right and even well delivered, this somehow serves to empower them with the belief that its right to pass judgement on you, albeit I personally think its completely out of ignorance. Sadly, with regard to most Malaysians I personally believe the problem resides in the lack of exposure to intellectual debate. They have difficulty in remaining in the contextual framework of the discussion, and more specifically a depressing lack thereof of any historical or even current context. I see it everyday here in KL, and as you point out all too often when I’m in London as well. The rise of the right is certainly on the rise and of great concern to me is that it seams to have permeated its ideology into the collective thought of the masses. This belligerent you’re with us or against us mentality wouldn’t seam so bad if at least when you’ve been discussing apples, the other readers would have the decency to respond to your discussion about bloody apples and not to be discuss bloody oranges. Really man blady fool! This last one is definitely going to raise the blood pressure of many but its just too apt, pearls to swine.

    Lastly, I’ll finish by adding a personal observation, you know you hit close to the bone on racial issues and thats why you rile up Malaysians so much, because we’re all guilty of being ferocious political animals preoccupied by race and religion.

    In any case, I do hope you respond to the many off point personalities that have taken time to try to put you down, despite the fact that I fear many of them would be unable to get past their prejudices to understand your point, and hope to encourage you to just keep fighting the good fight.


  33. temenggong

    Here is another one for you Farish. A view by Ayaan Ali Hirsh. She’s got the balance.

  34. Ibrahim

    I really do not understand when people are saying that there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia, and christianity could not build a church in Malaysia, as if Muslim in Malaysia discriminating the non-Muslim. To further support their argument, they were questioning why there is no church in Arab?
    Then may be i can ask whether there is a mosque in Vatican city or freedom of religion at that country. I am not saying that whatever done by the Saudi Arabia government in denying non-muslim’s freedom of religion is right nor wrong. What i am saying that we are human being regardless what religion we are. As human being we make decision based on our own background, value, history and numerous other reason which would make us have a different of opinion. Therefore there is no such thing i am right and you are wrong. We simply have a different of opinion.
    However it is very unfair to blame the religion for the conduct of the its followers. Islam has given a very explicit command in the Quran that the non-Muslim’s right to profess and to practice their religion and also to build their own house of prayer.

    To illustrate this, let me tell you a story. Umar Al-Khattab the second caliph of Muslim empire has met several Christian leaders in Egypt after the Muslim conquered the country. They had a meeting at one of the church. After the meeting, the caliph want to perform a prayer and the priest of the church invited him to perform the prayer inside the chruch. The caliph refused politely and said ” I am worried that if i perform my prayer today in the church today, the Muslim later on would said that Umar has perform his prayer in church and would convert the church to mosque”. He then performed his prayer outside the church.

    The position of non-muslim in Islam is not merely a lip service. History has proven that when first Muslim state was established by the prophet, the first thing he did was to draft the Charter of MEdina which guaranteed the rights of non-Muslim especially the Jews and Christian in the state. This is the first charter in the world that declared such rights to non-muslim.

    Now some of non-muslim saying that Muslim are cruel against non-muslim by citing some example in Lubnan, Gaza and Iraq. It maybe true, but to be fair then, how do you explain when some christian guy killed a pregnant women simply because she wears burqa. Then, would you say that the Christianity encouraged a Christian to kill a non-Christian. I do not think any faithfull christian would agree to such a ridiclious notion.
    The rule is simple, do not generalize by citing one rare occasion.
    In Malaysia, Muslim are 65%. Non-Muslim never have to be worried about their safety would be jeopardize merely because of their religion even if they are jews.

    But the same thing can not be said to the Muslim in Australia, Britain, US, German and several other western countries.
    I am not saying everybody in those countries are antoginizing Muslim but undeniably some minorities are and this jepordizing these Muslims.

    I do not want to comment about why the Swiss goverment did not allow to built the building by the Muslim because i do not know the wisdom behind it. Therefore I would advise the Muslim to respect the decision and accept it.