Remember when you were young? You were always suspicious of the “new Kids” on the block and you often went to great lengths not to interact with them.
There is a growing phenomenon in the greater Muslim world that Western societies are largely “Islamophobic.” Ex-patriots from the Middle East and from Africa who now settle in traditional American cities are complaining that they don’t feel “welcome” and that they do not get equitable, fair treatment and the same civil privilege as the general populace. They seem to believe that we “owe” them something by extending a greater amount of understanding.
Is it possible that these Muslim people coming into a well formed society in the West are expecting a bit too much? I know when I visited Turkey I was welcomed with open-arms. But I did not try to “convert” local customs and traditions to my own familiar ways. I did not expect the laws of the land to “pardon” my indiscretions and misunderstandings of local religion and tradition and allow outright civil “misbehavior.”
The truth is I embraced the change and adapted to it. I was not disappointed that they did not have my favorite tomato juice on the shelves – I took what was available and learned to like it. Turn the situation around and compare to what is actually happening here in America – I was not “demanding” that they take pork off of the local sub-shop menu and insisting (by way of protest) that new and more expensive Halal1 meats be substituted or outright required to be sold or threaten closure of an established business.
TGIFriday’s now serves Bacon-Encrusted Ribs. Ka-Boom!
Am I insensitive? Am I Islamophobic and socially un-fit? No!! I have always appreciated the differences and even went so far as to “sample” the new cultural flavors – and several I actually enjoyed. I’m talking lamb stuffed grape leaves, baklava, the Aremenian vegetable guess-what-that-was and some of the other raw veal and “see-food” items.
What a Difference a Few Decades Makes
Then you reach adulthood. You work for a few decades and then decide to open up shop because you are tired of working for “the man.” You open a new business which caters to tradition (as you know it) and all of a sudden you get hit with “new” regulations that tell you that you can’t do things in the manner you have been accustomed to for the past 50 years and you have to be “more sensitive” to people. Things like learning their language and respecting their ways and if you don’t – you are in trouble with the law.
Wait a minute. I did not ask you to come here. I’ll help you learn how to be comfortable living in MY surroundings. But be forewarned – I’m not going to change just because you may have to extend your effort and adapt to the American way. And by the way – get registered as a legal alien and I’ll even respect your right to vote.
Please pass the Ketchup. And would you mind taking that off your head when you sit at MY table? It is, after all, allowed in the Qur’an.2
**Addendum by Author, Tom Urich: “I am not attempting to pass judgement nor promoting racist phobia one way or the other as much as I am illustrating that adaptation to a new culture and a new homeland should include a modicum of tolerance.” There are extremes, however, that occur every day which can lead us to anger and hatred.3
1 Reference: http://www.religiousrules.com/Islamfood00table.htm
2 Reference: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/spiritus/v013/13.1.hess.html
3 Reference: http://goo.gl/tkJ9Qn