Posted: 22 Jan 2015 06:37 PM PST
Dear 25,000 Anti-Islam Dresden Protesters and Pegida,
I hear you marched in your thousands against my religion. Last week, and last month. You marched against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone a shade darker. I will not draw comparisons to Nazi Germany. I will not call you bigots, I will not insult you, and I will not label you. But we do have a problem.
You marched with banners claiming your city is overcrowded with Muslims. Yet 0.1% of Dresden are Muslim. You marched claiming immigrants are cramming your schools and leaving your children to travel miles for an education. Yet 2.5% of Dresden are foreign-born.
You claim that Germany is being invaded by Muslims. Yet only 5% of Germans are Muslim.
You march “against the Islamization of the West”. Yet within a century containing two World Wars, the decolonisation process, countless civil conflicts, foreign intervention, globalisation, and further displacement, Muslims remain a fringe minority in Europe. Less than 6%. A pretty lousy colonisation process, no?
You marched against refugees and asylum seekers, claiming Germany is their target for welfare and social security. Yet according to UNHCR, there are 51.2million refugees worldwide. Germany caters for less than 0.01% of them. Is that too much to ask? Is such a humanitarian obligation too large for the Refugee Convention 1951 your government ratified? Or is it actually punitive, for example, in comparison to Lebanon where every fourth person is a Syrian refugee?
Protesters, you are not alone. In my country, Britain, we have our own anti-immigration party. Ukip won their first seat in Clacton with nothing but anti-migrant rhetoric. Yet only 4.3% of Clacton are foreign-born. In a Parliamentary-based system, where each constituency elects a representative to voice their views, there is nothing Ukip can do for the people of Clacton.
Do you see a pattern? Perhaps I should explain. Your kind tend to establish themselves where their “problem” does not actually exist. Is this therefore an issue of negative perception? Fear of the unfamiliar? Intolerance in ignorance? Scapegoating an underclass? Media misinformation?
I will elaborate. London has a 36.2% foreign-born population. Relatively, that is fifteen times the population of foreigners in Dresden. A far greater diversity. Ukip poll the lowest in London compared to the rest of the country- in every demographic, foreign or not. London is a metropolis of brown, black, and white working side by side. We thrive. I saw an atheist today. Guess what? I did not try to convert him nor behead him for blasphemy; I helped him off the bus. He was 74 years old.
Does that make sense?
Your only insight into Islam is a box in your living room. Confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance infest the information you expose yourself to. Information which dehumanises and polarises anyone unlike you.
You enjoy the far-right media portrayal of Islam. It makes you feel good. Superior. Better. The barbaric Muslims, we are. We disrespect women, and we impose our beliefs on to others.
Yet did you know that Turkey, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, all Muslim majority states have had more elected female heads of state than almost every other Western country? Did you know that the Quran explicitly says “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), and our Prophet clarified “whomever hurts a non-Muslim will not smell a whiff of paradise”?
Did you know that your twisted misrepresentation of my religion helps the terrorists? Did you know that you and the terrorists agree on what seems to form an integral part of your identity: that Islam is violent? Did you know that you even use the same methodology to proclaim this; taking a verse out of context and evading any intellectual discourse?
What are Muslims to you, anyway? Arabs? Less than 20% of us are Arab. Indian or Pakistani? Again, less than 20%. Turkish? Less than 5%. Nothing else? That is more than half of us you cannot identify.
You assume our identity by our race. Is it not disheartening to you that such a narrow world view is legitimately held by so many? Does it not display a perspective so constrained to the contents of immediate life and prejudice? Is that not likely to lead to ignorant assumptions and offence in face of what is unbeknownst?
What becomes of the German Muslim, I wonder? Is he spared because he is white? Or is he declared a traitor and shunned? Is it difficult to choose between racism and neglecting a fellow countryman? Choose neither. Choose education. Tolerance. Kindness.
Detach from the vicious cycle of far-right media (who are unfamiliar with foreigners) feeding the far-right populace (who are unfamiliar with foreigners) what they should think about foreigners.
I ask you, have you ever met a Muslim? “Met” is not a synonym for shouting abuse at or stabbing to death in or outside their home. No, have you ever sat with a Muslim? Talked to a Muslim? Worked with a Muslim?
You should. At an airport perhaps, where we are 42 times more likely to be searched, and thus declared safe for human interaction.
Posted: 22 Jan 2015 06:20 PM PST
Malaysia's pace of democratisation has improved only marginally over the years and it remained a "flawed democracy" last year, the same category it occupied in 2008, the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) latest findings showed.
The country placed 65th out of 167 nations and federal territories reviewed in the EIU's Democracy Index 2014, putting it 10 spots ahead of Singapore, but far behind other South-east Asian peers such as Indonesia, which is 49th, and the Philippines in the 53rd spot.
Last year, Malaysia was categorised as a flawed democracy from its aggregate grade of 6.49 out of 10, according to scores tabulated from expert assessments and public surveys.
Flawed democracies are countries that respect basic civil liberties and generally hold free and fair elections, though they may be marred by problems such as infringements on media freedom, said the EIU.
Apart from possible irregularities in elections, a flawed democracy also suffers from other significant weaknesses such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, the EIU said.
Civil society movements in Malaysia have previously alleged that clandestine gerrymandering, the abuse of government machinery, strict media controls and vote-rigging in elections have allowed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to stay in power for more than five decades.
Despite the allegations, BN lost five states to the opposition as well as its customary parliamentary supermajority in a 2008 general election that was later described as a "political tsunami". Allegations of unfair polls arose more strongly after the following general election in 2013, when BN lost the popular vote but remained firmly in power and whittled down the number of opposition-held states to only three.
The EIU findings put Singapore in 75th place last year, under the flawed democracy category, with a score of 6.03. That was an improvement from its "hybrid regime" ranking in 2008, when it came in 82nd place with a score of 5.89.
In its report, the EIU highlighted the notable trend of a growing level of engagement in politics in Asia, including more prominent protests in countries "ranging from supposedly apathetic Singapore through to more active democracies, such as India and Taiwan". "In Singapore, this shift has been enough to lift the country from the status of hybrid regime to flawed democracy," the report added.
In response, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: "This index is based on a rigid, ideological position that ignores the fact that democratic governments around the world take different forms, depending on their particular history and national conditions. Singapore is a fully democratic state that pragmatically pursues policies to maximise the social and economic outcomes for our citizens."
The index considers hybrid regimes as countries with substantial election irregularities that often prevent them from being free and fair. They also tend to see government pressure on opposition parties and candidates and "serious weaknesses" in political culture and civil society, among other factors.
The EIU said the index, a snapshot on the state of democracy worldwide, was based on ratings for 60 indicators grouped into five categories: Electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
Based on scores within the five categories, rankings are then assigned according to four types of regimes: Full democracies (8 to 10), flawed democracies (6 to 7.9), hybrid regimes (4 to 5.9), and authoritarian regimes (below 4).
Malaysia and Singapore share their category with 51 other countries. Twenty-four nations were categorised as full democracies, 39 as hybrid regimes and 52 as authoritarian regimes.
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