In a time when billboards scream at us about the Muslim threat, whipping up fear, Mattias Gardell’s book Islamofobi (Islamophobia) is a timely book and a book that deserves to get read. Gardell methodically shows how the fear of the Other have moved targets over the millennia, catching normally level-headed people inclined towards freedom of thought, speech and expression in it’s wake, making loud cries for control and inhibiting of human rights based on arbitrary and general criteria.
The history of islamophobia in the western world is only one part of the book. For most of the volume he details how Muslims are treated on a daily basis, both politically as a group, and individually, describing conditions I am sure no person would want their kin to endure.
There are those who accuse Gardell of silencing people who want to discuss the Muslim threat. In my opinion that is not what he does. What he says is Muslims are as diverse as Christians in their beliefs and practises, not to mention in interpretation of their holy texts, and that just like Christians are looked at and judged as individuals, so should Muslims.
I don’t agree with him throughout. As an atheist I find no religion inviolable – in fact, I find no religion agreeable but I find many people who believe in what for me is pure superstition to be not only agreeable but nice and kind people, as well as bad-ass egotists. Just like the rest of us.
And no one should be judged based on such superficial grounds as another person’s projection of his or her own fears for the unknown. Especially so when so much of the fear is based on actual falsities, as Gardell shows.
People truly need to read more science fiction, to learn to analyse their own reactions to the unknown. I hereby recommend a healthy dose of anything SF by Cherryh, as a start.
And yeah, I’m serious.
But prior to that anyone reading in Swedish should read this book. Of course.