Being a Muslim in the West - My experience

By: Muhammed Hussain, Student Voices writer

Imagine being an eleven-year-child, travelling back from the self-proclaimed country of the free and being told that you will be asked extra security question because of your name. A foreign, Muslim, Arabic sounding name and yet the most popular name in the world. This is exactly what happened to me in 2009, when I left the USA after having visited my relatives. This experience is not exclusive to me or just a handful of individuals; it is the norm for people who have a Muslim name. This practice is referred to as ‘racial profiling’. According to the Oxford dictionary, racial profiling is the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. Generalising groups of Muslims of having links with terrorist organisation because an individual with a similar name has carried out atrocious acts is not just wrong but it is counter-productive in the war against terror. It labels Muslim people as second-class citizens, strips them of their individuality and pushes them to the edge of society.

 Born in the West, living in the West and attending school in the West; in other words I am a profound European in my beliefs and practices. However, it is the constant rhetoric in the media, police activities and politicians’ comments which do make me cast doubt upon my identity. British Muslims, Muslims in continental Europe and the USA are starting to lose faith in the security system. For example, in Britain, Asians are over three times more likely to be stopped and searched than other people under the Terrorism Act (2000) and only small proportion of stops result in arrest. This makes Muslims feel ‘over-policed and under-protected’ as stated by social researchers, Phillips and Bowling. Mass stop and search operations, paramilitary tactics and excessive use of surveillance are the responses that cause deep mistrust between the Muslim community and the police in the UK, Europe and the USA. It creates a situation of ‘us versus them’. This was seen in Belgium in the previous weeks when it was revealed that there has been a lack of communication between the police forces and Muslim residents in Brussels. Suggestions of Muslims not doing enough to combat extremism are simply not true. 

The simple fact of the matter is that the mainstream media doesn’t highlight counter-extremism initiatives run by Muslims. There are many local counter-extremism projects being run in London, sadly there is no mention of them by media platforms or mainstream politicians. Having had an insight into the life and emotions of Muslims in the 21st century, I believe that the only way forward is more integration. Integration will only happen if everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law, everyone’s views must be represented in the democratic process and in the mainstream media. Everyone must be made to feel that they can express themselves through their democratic rights. However, most Muslims don’t feel that this is the case right now because the media spends too much time highlighting the views of right-wing politicians and dedicates too little time on issues affecting Muslims in the West.

Meet the author:

Muhammed Hussain 
Studying Politics, Philosophy and Sociology at Coombe Sixth Form. Used to be on the left of the political spectrum but rapidly transitioned to the centre ground. A staunch advocate of free speech, human rights and equal opportunities. Political interest is focused on local, national and international affairs. 

Being a Muslim in the West - My experience Being a Muslim in the West - My experience Reviewed by Student Voices on 15:20 Rating: 5

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