Friday, July 22, 2005

Racist Morons

I saw two instances of hostility towards muslims today - one much much worse than the other. Both instances came within 2 minutes of each other, although the hostility emanated from different people and was directed at different people. I'm quite shocked because I've never seen direct racist abuse in York before. Of course, I'm not saying that York is a bastion of anti-racism and I'm sure there are far too many racist cretins in the city (actually I seem to remember that the BNP got over 700 votes in York in the Euro elections). In fact, I saw and heard a stupid drunken young woman call a (white) man (who'd been leering at her from across the road) a 'fooking nigger' a few days ago - but I've never seen such behaviour actually directed at non-whites before.

I wouldn't call the first incident I describe below, racist, but I think it at least implied a certain hostility towards, or fear of, muslims. I probably only remember it because it was followed, very soon after, by something much nastier. The second incident was clearly a direct (verbal) racist attack. Here's what happened.

I was walking along the river on my way to campus at about 12.30 this afternoon. There's a wide path along the side of the river which is popular with tourists and people out for a stroll, especially in summer. Anyway, I was walking along this path behind an elderly couple. I was close enough, and the pathway was quiet enough, for me to overhear their conversation. The couple were passing a bench upon which was sitting a muslim woman (it was clear she was muslim from her clothing) and her child. I heard the old man say 'Is that a muslim?' to his companion and his companion said back to him 'Shhh, there's someone about to pass us' (I was about to overtake them at this point). Now, of course I've no idea what the man was about to say, but it seems fairly likely that it wasn't going to be complimentary - why else would his partner have advised him to be quiet? I suppose that he might have been about to remark how nice it was to see a muslim or something, but somehow I doubt it. I'm sure that no harm was meant and that the man was not about to start spouting a load of racist abuse - but I just wondered why it was that he should point out a muslim to his partner - why he should be so interested? It's not too difficult to imagine that the man (and perhaps his partner) feel a certain amount of hostility and fear towards muslims- seeing one in the street is something that they take particular notice of. This was a relatively harmless incident of course - but I was left wondering whether the muslim lady and her child had overheard the man's question just as I had. How often are muslims pointed at or whispered about in the street I wonder? How does it make them feel to have people eyeing them up - to hear people quietly saying something about 'muslims' as they pass.

Anyway, I walked on and came to a part of the river where there's a concrete slip-way which is popular with anglers. There were two middle aged anglers who, I must say looked a bit thuggish (can I call them 'lumpens'?) sitting on the concrete. They seemed to be taking a particular interest in something they could see over their shoulders and so I turned to look in the direction that they were looking. There was a large group of asian people coming down the road towards the pathway - they looked like a couple of families of tourists. By coincidence, like before, I was able to hear their conversation as I passed. One was saying to the other 'Look it's a bunch of terrorists, ha ha.' I thought 'Oh yeah, that's really funny you fucking arseholes' and carried on walking. However, they then started to shout racist abuse at the passing people - 'Why don't you fuck off, fucking muslim terrorists!'. I stopped, turned and watched them - unsure of what to do. The morons were clearly enjoying it. It was also clear that they were pig-ignorant - there was nothing to suggest that the families they were insulting were muslim at all (not that this would have made the abuse any better, of course) - they were not wearing any obviously religious clothing. The thing is, that I don't suppose it actually mattered one jot to these Nazi fucks whether or not the targets of their taunts were muslims - what mattered to them was that they had dark skin.

To their credit, the asian families simply ignored the men and carried on in the direction that they were going. I considered shouting something back at the men but, for whatever reason, I didn't. As soon as the families had passed, and the idiots had gone back to their fishing, I carried on walking. Of course, if the cavemen had actually threatened, or assaulted the people they shouted at I would have gone to help (as I'm sure other people at the scene would have, too).

We are living in frightening times. It must be doubly so, if you are muslim. What must it be like, getting ready to leave the house every morning, to wonder how many times that day people will mumble something about you, whisper about you, point you out in the street, perhaps even insult you directly, or worse? In fact, it seems that it's not just muslims who have to worry about Islamophobia in the street from the evidence I saw today. Anyone with dark skin is in danger of attack in this poisonous atmosphere.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?