If you are unfamiliar with it, it was an agreement between Russia, France and Great Britain signed in May 1916 during WWI. The agreement set out how the three great powers would divvy up the Middle East should the Ottoman Empire be on the losing side (it chose Germany and Austria-Hungary. It chose poorly).
Then the Russian intelligentsia got all uppity, overthrew the Monarchy and made this deal public. The local Middle Easterns went “BOO-URNS” and the Brits went “Ah well” and the French said “Sacre bleu!” (probably) and they went ahead and did it anyway.
So an area that was previously massive and home to a series of different religious types got broken down. And not in a logical “Oh there’s a group of people who have evolved a community in that area, let’s create a country there” kind of way, but more in a “what’s the best interests for us as colonial powers and OMG WE LOVE OIL” kind of way. So you got situations where Shi’ites and Sunni were grouped together (Iraq), entire groups of people who didn’t have a country at all but made up a minority across a range of countries (Kurds) and so forth.
Unsurprisingly (though I fear it came as a surprise), there was – and is – discontent among the groups of people in this area. And it also just so happens to be an area that is largely Islamic.
So, my hypothesis is that the current wave of Islamophobia that’s sweeping through Europe is misplaced. It’s not the faith that’s the problem. It’s the geographical meddling that has gone on for a very long time (my very brief and probably wrong summation above could do with an historical lens, don’t trust bloggers folks).
And I say this because in other places where Islam is so widespread, it doesn’t seem like such a problem. Take the Asian Islamic states – where over 60 per cent of Islamic people actually live – we don’t seem to see beheadings occuring, or journalists/aid workers being kidnapped with such frequency.
Or Morocco. Where 99 per cent of the country is recorded as being Muslim. Or Tunisia. Or Niger. Or Senegal. All of those countries are registered as being over 95 per cent Muslim.
That’s not to say that there are no problems in those places. But making the assumption that because the areas of current problems – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria et al – are largely Muslim means that Muslims are a problem is like assuming that because most of the abortion clinics that get bombed/attacked in the US happen in the Bible Belt means Christians are all bombers and the US is a hotbed of terrorists.
So it seems from my perspective that it’s not Islam that’s the problem. It’s nationalism – and feeling like you’re not in control of your own country.
Did you know that Indonesia has over 200 million Islamic people. That’s a lot of terrorists aye WhaleOil? You’d think that they would routinely be trying to install a Caliphate everywhere (hmm maybe that explains Tony Abbott actually…).
There are literally hundreds of millions of Muslim people everywhere who do not want to behead non-Muslims, that do not want to force you all to wear an hijab, that want to live and pray and explore their faith in way that is peaceful and harmonious with wherever we are.
So now, having read this, I’m sure that Islamophobia has been solved and we can go on to not being dicks to each other.