The new wave of desecration of Muslim’s holy book by far-right Swedish and Dutch politicians over past few days are met with non-serious reactions on the part of European governments amid public outcry in Muslim countries.
On January 21, Rasmus Paludan, a dual Danish-Swedish national, far-right extremist and an anti-Islam provocateur set alight a copy of the Holy Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm under the protection of Swedish police.
The next day, a Dutch far-right leader, Edwin Wagensveld, also tore pages from a Quran and stomped on them near parliament in The Hague.
The moves sparked strong criticism and condemnations across the Islamic world with observers slamming the West for pursuing double standards in dealing with Quran burning saying the inaction would let Islamophobia to dominate.
While Muslim countries expect the European countries, in this case Sweden and the Netherlands, to take serious measures, criminalize the assault on the Holy text and respect Muslims’ dignity and sanctities, they have dealt with this insulting behavior with nothing but complacency.
Although they have issued some face-saving statements, in fact they willfully became bystanders letting the provocative Islamophobic act to hurt the religious sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world in the guise of “freedom of expression.”
The Western media are pretty much determined to demonize Muslim communities and are pursuing an anti-Muslim propaganda on their platforms.
In the event of a mistake by a Muslim or a small group of Muslims the Western Media hype it up and treat it like an unforgivable crime and an act of terrorism, extremism, and racism.
The West and its powerful media often portray Islam and Muslims as a threat to the security and values of the Western world.
The media coverage brings Muslim terrorism suspects to world attention in an attempt to intentionally create the impression that Muslim terrorism is more prevalent than it really is and they normally focus on the perpetrator’s religion. Hence, Western society is stuck in an established mindset that “terrorists are always Muslim but never white.”
Despite that, white supremacists and other like-minded extremists conducted 67 percent of terrorist plots and attacks in the United States in 2020.
Generally, counterterrorism policies overwhelmingly target Muslims. For instance, in Britain you are 150 times more likely to be stopped and searched under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act if you are of Pakistani heritage than if you are white.
Above all, former US President Donald Trumps “Muslim travel ban,” presented as a so-called counter-terrorism measure, promoted Islamophobic narratives more than ever.
In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the US. On January 20, 2021, newly-inaugurated president Joe Biden issued a proclamation revoking the Trump travel bans.
Free-speech advocates favoritism
The West, a so-called free-speech advocate, conveniently tend to forget that the right to freedom of expression involves certain responsibilities and should not be abused in favor of certain minorities.
Western society, pretty much spearheaded by the media outlets, will not stand for anti-Semitism, but delicately tolerate Islamophobia.
The child-killing, apartheid Israeli regime has almost always got away with its heinous bloodshed and massacres against the occupied people of Palestine for decades with sheer impunity, while anti-Israeli sentiments are immediately interpreted as anti-Semitism.
For one, based on legal framework in EU member states, holocaust denial, is punishable by months to years of imprisonment.
But by that standard, cartoonists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo who drew derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should also be arrested, as well as their editors and publishers.
The list can go on and on, but it is important to heed that such double standards can lead to a powerful Islamophobic, anti-Muslim backlash that could spawn more bloodshed.
The reality is that Muslims around the world are increasingly victims of discrimination and hate crimes.
By Maryam Qarehgozlou
Maryam Qarehgozlou is a Tehran-based journalist who has covered trending stories in different avenues such as environment, health, technology and Middle East affairs since 2015.