Racism was supposed to have ended in Europe. Europe and the Western world were supposed to have learned from the horrific consequences of their past. According to the official narrative in the Western world, the acceptance of racism is not even a question. They are the foremost defenders of human rights and they would never tolerate racism. But the facts contradict them and the similarities between today’s racists and their forefathers are nothing short of eerie.
The world is painfully aware that racism is once again rearing its ugly head, especially after millions of Syrians were forced to become refugees and had to seek safety elsewhere. Europe has always boasted of embracing everyone, regardless of their gender, faith or ethnicity. So, when these new refugees turned to Europe for help, and saw the cold face of rejection, they understood that reality significantly differed from the painted image.
We have repeatedly written about the refugees’ ordeal and the rising tide of xenophobia. However, there is another, and less discussed, aspect of the problem and that is how colored or Muslim athletes have to put up with ceaseless racist harassment.
Unbelievable as it may sound, it is common for colored football players to be harassed during games, or Muslim players to be attacked with racist slurs. In the UK, Newcastle winger, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, explains that Islamophobic abuse has become a regular thing for him and his friends. He says, “When I was playing grassroots level, a lot of my friends and me got comments along the lines of “suicide bomber” and “terrorist,”, stuff like that. It was quite overwhelming and disturbing. It does affect you mentally on and off the pitch. Sometimes when you get the abuse on the pitch, it affects you in the coming days, even weeks. It was very difficult to experience.”
In France, a footballer of Algerian origin, Samir Nasri faces a similar problem and he talks about the growing animosity in French society; “French people turned against the Muslims. Ten to fifteen years ago, it wasn’t like this. I don’t like the way the mentality is in France now.” Barcelona’s striker, Samuel Eto, is from Cameroon and he is regularly taunted by fans when he comes on the pitch. Even world famous names can’t escape the brutality of racism, which became clear when Roberto Carlos was harassed during a game in Russia, which made him leave the pitch in frustration. Another disturbing episode took place in the USA when Muslim Kansas City Chiefs safety, Husain Abdullah, scored a point and bowed in prayer on the pitch. Later, he was penalized for the action, but many of his Christian peers had done the same previously and had never faced a penalty.
These are just a few examples, and there is no doubt that such ugly displays reflect a deep-rooted problem that has managed to seep through the superficially laid anti-racism barrier after decades of disgraceful acts. Moreover, the racist rhetoric began to echo those of the past. For example, we have all heard about those people who claim that the presence of refugees is a threat to white ladies or that newcomers are secretly trying to take over their countries. Interestingly, someone else made similar remarks decades ago (Africans are beyond such disgraceful remarks):
“These savages are a terrible danger,” a joint declaration of the German national assembly warned in 1920, to “German women.” Writing in ‘Mein Kampf’ in the 1920s, Adolf Hitler would describe African soldiers on German soil as a Jewish conspiracy aimed to topple white people “from their cultural and political heights”.
Obviously, no sensible person would agree with the bizarre and outlandish ideas of the Nazis today, but it seems like such evil ideas have found a way to come back. Is whiteness once again turning into a pseudo-religion, as American political activist Du Bois observed in the 1900’s?
The western world claims that it has overcome the sins and mistakes of its past. It now claims that it is the center of modernism, freedom, and everything desirable. But is it?
These incidents show that, in every era of history, there will always be people of dubious morals and questionable judgment. However, today’s generations have an advantage. We saw what happened the last time the world gave in to the madness of racism. We saw how the waves of madness swallowed millions, no matter how sensible those people were previously. We also saw what happened in the end and how racism, xenophobia, and the most flagrant forms of prejudice and bigotry caused the most appalling and unthinkable crimes. Therefore, if, despite this knowledge, we allow ourselves to be swallowed by a similar tide of hatred, and allow this shameful history to repeat itself, there will be no excuse. This time, it will be a deliberately made mistake.
The writer has published over 300 books on political topics,
morals of the Qur’an and Islam and Science topics translated into 73 languages.