Home Opinion Op-Ed Bigotry against Muslims and Ozil ignites #MeTwo campaign in Europe

Bigotry against Muslims and Ozil ignites #MeTwo campaign in Europe

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Simran Shoaib |

Following the trending hashtag ‘#MeToo’ campaign, a similar campaign is known as ‘#MeTwo’ recently incepted in July 2018, attracting many Muslims to take a firm stand against religious and ethnic discrimination. This campaign attempted to voice cases of discrimination especially those against Muslims around the world, was last witnessed trending in Germany, may spread to Denmark as well.

Following the announcement of quitting the German national soccer team by Mesut Özil, this hashtag became a form of rallying point for scores of second- and third-generation immigrants in Germany who took up various social media platforms on the account of everyday racism.

Following the furor over Turkish-German soccer star Mesut Ozil, his recent resignation from the German national team led to people gathering round in support for one another against facing discrimination.

This discrimination wasn’t subjected to only the European country of Germany, in fact, recently, Muslim women in Denmark took the streets when a new law declared a ban on wearing veils in Denmark inciting mass protests.

Ozil; a star player born to Turkish immigrants, recently quit as a result of tdiscrimination and facing fierce criticism when he posed for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Expressing his grief, he accused the German soccer federation, its president, fans and the media of racism and double standards.

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” he said. “Does my Turkish heritage make me a more worthy target?” he asked. “Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim? he questioned.

#MeTwo hashtags inspired by this event led to Ozil presenting his stance of being connected to more than one culture at the same time. Sources indicated that around 153,000 tweets reported the recounting instances of discrimination posted to Twitter, following the accusation of German Football Association (DFB) for racism against the Arsenal star.

This tweet and hashtag formed a trend which led to the Twitter user Moorni recounting her school experience where her class teacher commented on her life,  “Despite good grades, there would be no recommendation for a comprehensive secondary school for her. Your daughter will anyway wear a hijab and get married early.”

Among the #MeTwo tweets, many complained about discrimination based on skin color or wearing a headscarf. Others denounced some ethnic Germans’ assumption that even third-generation immigrant children do not fully belong as “Germans.”

The police were called to a shopping center in Horsholm, the North-Eastern region of Nordsjaelland where the veiled offender was attacked by another woman who attempted to tear her niqab off.

Ebeneezer Negussie tweeted, “When a stranger says to you after a nice conversation on a train, ‘your skin color is not your fault, I mean, you, unfortunately, can’t change it,’ and you understand that he perceives your skin color as something that went wrong.”

#MeTwo to trend in Denmark following a ban on the veil

This discrimination wasn’t subjected to only the European country of Germany, in fact, recently, Muslim women in Denmark took the streets when a new law declared a ban on wearing veils in Denmark inciting mass protests. On 3rd August 2018, a 28-year-old woman became the first offender of recent Danish law on veil ban. Suffering from a fine amounting to 1,000 kroner (£120) the woman was instructed by executives to either remove her veil or leave the public space.

The police were called to a shopping center in Horsholm, the North-Eastern region of Nordsjaelland where the veiled offender was attacked by another woman who attempted to tear her niqab off. “The police broke off this scuffle”, reported police duty officer David Borchersen. “During the fight, her niqab came off, but by the time we arrived she had put it back on again,” Borchersen informed. This Danish law was passed in May 2018 and enforced on 1st August, banning accessories hiding the face, such as veils, balaclavas, masks and false beards.

Read more: Fashion Industry signs #MeToo petition, supporting Meesha Shafi

Denmark faced a backlash from thousands of women protestors who expressed their distaste in this law targeting their religious rights. It incited much hatred, setting off protests and reigniting a debate over a law, which according to rights groups ‘discriminates against Muslim women’.

Protests were carried out in central Copenhagen and Aarhus where mass groups of women from diverse cultures and religions were seen protesting. These protestors included Muslim women at the forefront wearing traditional Muslim face veils known as ‘Niqab’ and full covered ‘burqas’ and were supported by dozens of women wearing makeshift coverings and handkerchiefs tied across their faces, as well.

The Justice Minister of Denmark, Søren Pape Poulsen claimed that this new legislation allows people to cover their face when there is a “recognizable purpose” such as cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, for instance using motorcycle helmets under Danish traffic rules, only.

The police were called to a shopping center in Horsholm, the North-Eastern region of Nordsjaelland where the veiled offender was attacked by another woman who attempted to tear her niqab off.

The Danish Minister also explained the purpose of this fine, that it wasn’t targeting any religious values rather it was protecting its own Danish values. “I see a discussion of what kind of society we should have with the roots and culture we have, that we don’t cover our face and eyes, we must be able to see each other and we must also be able to see each other’s facial expressions. It’s a value in Denmark”, he explained.

Analysts opine this to be as one of Denmark’s right-wing swing on Muslims. This law was described as a harsh one, by the ‘Human Rights Watch’ who declared the veil ban in Denmark as the “latest in a harmful trend”, where repeated violations could lead up to fines amounting to 10,000 kroner. This ban was inspired by European countries like Belgium, France, Austria and parts of Switzerland and Germany. As the first offender faces the fine, experts predict the #MeTwo campaign to trend in Denmark as well.

Read more: #MeToo throws new spotlight on International Women’s Day

SPIN:

Acts of discrimination have existed for decades all around the world, however, backlash and reservations have recently surfaced as people gather the courage to voice against the system and authorities in an act of protection of their rights. The twist on the original #MeToo campaign has led to the wonderment of the public in regard to surfacing discrimination against Muslims around the globe. Many Human rights campaigners opine that the veil ban in Denmark is a violation of women’s rights despite the Danish Ministers’ claims of preservation of Danish values.

Danish researchers state that about 200 women in Denmark are believed to wear the face veil. Interestingly Denmark’s population amounts to approximately 5.731 million, then how do the government and judiciary choose to target 0.34 % of the population in an attempt to protect they are so-called- ‘Danish values’. Who decides these Danish values and what are those values? And in fact, if these values have existed for a long time then how come, they chose to protect their values just recently?

This campaign has led to many people opening up for the first time, for the sake of their rights and wanting nothing more than to be treated fairly and equally.

Poppen’s claims of the new legislation allowing people to cover their face when there is a “recognizable purpose”, clearly looks past the religious sentiments of people as ‘recognizable’. Many analysts state that shielding their own agendas behind excuses, the Justice Minister had openly condemned the act of wearing a veil but didn’t quite justify it.

The alleged stance of protection of Danish values has negatively affected thousands of Danish women and targeted them as a minority. Subsequently, Germany invited more than 4 million people of Turkish origin in the 1960’s to help rebuild the country after World War II, but for what? Only to be treated differently on the account of being a Muslim or of belonging to a different race?

European countries claim that they make laws and state claims in order to protect their own, however, discrimination and stereotyping leads nowhere. What about the rights of those Danish, Dutch, German, Belgian, French- Muslims, who suffer at the hands of such laws and end up feeling like outsiders? Foreign Minister of Germany, Heiko Maas said the #MeTwo tweets highlighted racism being a problem.

Read more: Celebrities should not manipulate ‘Me Too’ for personal fame: Nabila

“It is impressive and painful how many people are speaking out here,” Maas tweeted.  “We have to realize that it is the flippant talk at work or the despicable gesture in the train that can sometimes be more painful than the blatant slogans of half-naked people with bald heads,” he said.

This campaign has led to many people opening up for the first time, for the sake of their rights and wanting nothing more than to be treated fairly and equally. Ali Can, a Turkish-German writer, and activist, creator of the #MeToo campaign recently launched a campaign through his Facebook video describing his point on this matter. “Why ‘two’? Because I am more than one identity,” he said.

Read More: Actors in black supporting #MeToo mocked for feeble protest

Belonging to more than one culture, ethnicity and/or religion has incited hatred and oppression from many Europeans. Moreover, they should be prepared for future protests as the ones witnessed earlier are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people utilizing resources to collaborate in a struggle for their basic human rights.

How can Denmark claim to defend its culture, when Muslims being the largest minority in the country are a part of the country’s culture? Freedom of religion has been guaranteed by the Constitution of Denmark, yet such Anti-Muslim laws are being passed under the pretext of ‘protection of values’.

Simran Shoaib has studied Media Studies and is working as a Research Analyst at Global Village Space.  


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