The remarks by American presidential candidate billionaire Donald Trump on preventing Muslims from entering the United States, have raised a tidal wave of anger and condemnation.
This began in the United States itself, where former US Secretary of State and candidate for the presidential elections Hillary Clinton viewed Trump's remarks as “dangerous;” whereas the White House which spokesman denounced these statements. The condemnation spread to include the political, economic, as well as artistic milieus in the United States.
Quite quickly, solidarity with Islam and Muslims fanned around the world, with Facebook Tsar Mark Zuckerberg, of Jewish origin, expressing solidarity with Muslims in a letter addressed to them, saying: "I join the voices supporting Muslims in our society and around the world. After the Paris attacks and the messages of hatred this week, I can only imagine how much fear is experienced by Muslims because of the possibility of persecution as a result of acts committed by others;” pointing out that as Facebook chairman he "will fight” to maintain the platform safe and peaceful for Muslims the world over.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, of Indian origin, whose writings are among the most read on Google, issued a message of solidarity to the entire world and to Americans. He said: "The openness of knowledge, tolerance, and reception of new individuals is one of the most important elements of power in American society," stressing his support of Muslims and other minorities in America.
European society undoubtedly shares the same fears and concerns. In France, for example, the first round of regional elections resulted in the right securing a negligible majority; with the far-right party winning 28% of the vote, and the center-right and center-left parties scoring similar percentages. Almost half the French electorate abstained from voting, in a reflection of caution and anticipation in the political scene, following the declaration of a state of emergency in the country since the Black Friday attacks in Paris on the thirteenth of this past November.
In France, following these attacks, the French president stressed that he will raise the number of refugees to be hosted on French territory to thirty thousand. The extreme right's remarks asking for the closure of mosques in the country, notwithstanding; such invitations largely fell on deaf ears. The French administration continued its plans to receive newcomers and give them full French residency rights, without any discrimination.
Politics aside, there was a host of individual initiatives that attempted to simulate the situation in a different manner, in an attempt to rationalize the situation. In the Netherlands, for example, two young men started to read passers-by on the street phrases from a book which they told them was the Quran. The verses they read were quite shocking in their discriminatory tone against women, and their incitement to violence. What was even more shocking, is when the two young men removed the mock cover, to reveal that the book they were holding was nothing other than the Bible!
In the United States, a young Syrian refugee stood blindfolded and put in front of a banner reading “I am a Muslim” and asking people for a hug. He was showered with genuine affection by thousands of Americans, from diverse origins and backgrounds.
The human solidarity that Syrians witnessed for five years now has been universal. It was only natural that we, as Syrians, would be the first to offer our solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks; as we have been for years now facing the same foe, and dying under its knife. We are truly well acquainted with the meaning of loss, and the bitterness of massacre.
People of wisdom in Western society are fully aware that the persecution of any individual or group would deprive the whole world of their abilities. They are equally well aware that Western countries reach their current position of power, only through respect for the rights of groups and individuals, as well as the defense of these rights.
At times when addressing the conflict in Syria—for which a sectarian path was desired by some—French people are reminded of the medieval conflicts between various Christian sects, the hegemony of the Church, and the values of discrimination and slavery. They immediately and perfectly understand what we are referring to, as well as understand that the revolution against subordination, racism, and dictatorship was the only solution.
The French Revolution itself was also armed—notwithstanding the fact that its elite comprised prominent thinkers, philosophers, and writers. That did not diminish their faith in science, law, and ethics. We also today share with this world its own fears and apprehensions—and its humanity as well.
We have the choice of identifying hatred, respond thereto, and thereby pushing the towards destruction; and we also have the choice of looking forward to solidarity, and putting our hands in humanity’s hands and, thereby, saving our precious tiny planet.
We have the choice of reading the holy scripture with the insightful eye of the world, and infer that which gives life; or we have the choice of reading it with the eye of ignorance, and thereby drive ourselves to our demise.
The choice remains ours…
* Opinion pieces do not necessarily express the views of Rozana Media.