Thursday, July 26, 2007


Very disturbing piece of Islamophobia and racism evidence, via the excellent Islamophobia Watch:

A Muslim street warden nicknamed "Saddam" during a four-year ordeal of racist abuse has won £42,500 after an employment tribunal. Iqbal Rasheed, 59, was the target of a vindictive campaign while working for a security firm under contract for Westminster council and the Greater London Authority.

Father-of-three Mr Rasheed, of St John's Wood, told how colleagues at Chubb Security nicknamed him "Saddam", branded him a "madman who believes in God" and laughed at him when he fasted during Ramadan. He said he was once told not to clean the spray-painted word "n****r" from the side of Selfridges because it was "not offensive".

Shortly after British hostage Ken Bigley was decapitated in Iraq, Mr Rasheed said he was told by a colleague: "I hope they nuke you Iraqis now." One South African supervisor told him: "I don't make tea, I get n*****s to make it for me."

Mr Rasheed, who was born in Aden, Yemen, said he was the subject of a bullying campaign by line manager Mike Edwards and colleagues Marie Robinson and Carol Wheeler, who are mother and daughter. He told the Lite today: "From the moment I stepped in the office I could feel the tension against me. I have lived in this country since I was a child but I was made to feel like a total outsider."
I won't talk about the anti-Iraq and anti-Arab fervour, but "Saddam" is considerably tame when you consider "Sodom" as uttered by American colonialists in the Pentagon.

And, naturally, Said discusses what the Bush administration and their mouthpieces’ cultural gaffes, during the lead-up to the war on Iraq, communicate and how Arabs receive their actions. Barsamian mentions to Said how U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, while addressing the United Nations, repeatedly stated "Sodom" instead of "Saddam." Said responds that this is an example of demoni[s]ing and triviali[s]ing the dictator, and reducing the country of Iraq, home of what is considered the artistic capital of the Arab world, to that one man.

Commenting on news anchors "who say I-raq, I-ran … the Mooslems, and Izlum," Said tells Barsamian, "it’s all part of the same arsenal of Orientalist cliches that are designed to alienate, distance, and dehumani[s]e a people … That’s why most Arabs feel a tremendous animosity toward the U.S. media and government. The prevailing public discourse is so ignorant and at the same time so familiar in its contempt for these central things in our lives that we see it as a kind of assault on our culture and civilization." Indeed, the lack of knowledge that Americans possess regarding Arabs, the Middle East, and foreign affairs in general is all too often manifested in the media, like when the Chicago Tribune, in a recent editorial, refers to Iran as an Arab country, and in another article, defines "intifada" as "holy war."
The analysis, though not directly related, by Edward Said points to the view that Iqbal Rasheed, the man vilified and racially abused, was a lingual and cultural reduction of all Arabs to "Saddam". In my next entry, I'll insha'Allah talk about how the 'syntax' of Islam is ideologically ditched in the textual English language that supposedly indulges in an unbiased, non-political and universal discourse.


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