۱۳ آذر ۱۳۹۹ | Dec 3, 2020
How do young Muslims deal with hate speech and verbal assault

This study shows how hatred against Muslims and verbal assaults solves as routine in Norway.

Hawzah News Agency - Hatred against Muslims and verbal assaults are part of everyday life for many Muslims, also in Norway. This has been shown in many studies.

After the terrorist attacks in France in October, this Muslim hatred could blossom again in Norway, said Linda Tinuke Strandmyr, acting director of Agenda X, the Norwegian Anti-Racist Centre's resource center for youth.

“These kinds of incidents contribute to increasing the sense that Muslim people are the enemy, there’s no doubt about that. People who grow up in Norway with a skin color or religion that’s different than the majority are constantly made aware of how these events affect us,” she says.

“It's a paradox, because this is a major societal problem,” says Rune Ellefsen, a researcher at the University of Oslo. Ellefsen and his colleagues Azin Banafsheh and Sveinung Sandberg have conducted an in-depth study to come up with some answers.

The study is part of a larger research project called "Radicalization and Resistance", which has involved interviewing 90 Norwegian Muslims aged 18–32.

Fully 67 of the participants had experienced verbal assaults, discrimination or social exclusion because they were Muslims.

The young Muslims in the study described a wide range of experiences that had affected them.

What’s most difficult, they said, are angry encounters that happen face-to-face and are directed at them personally. This is in contrast to what we hear about the most, which is attacks that take place online and via social media and by other groups.

“Perhaps the most common verbal harassment is that people say ‘bloody Muslim’ and ‘bloody terrorist’. Many Muslims who work in the service industries have experienced this,” says Banafsheh.

These young Muslims also described the experience of riding public buses, and have somebody get up and move to another seat when when they sit next to them.

They also shared stories about threatening body language and being pushed.

The Muslims in the study had different strategies for reacting to these experiences.

However, there were some recurring patterns, the researchers found.

One of the strategies is to talk back.

This strategy involves responding briefly and pointedly to insults or accusations about Islam. It can also provide an opportunity to share what you know about the religion.

Ahmed, 26, believes it is important to offer good arguments as well as information about Islam to counter the bullying and "win the argument" over the attackers.

Another is to enter into dialogue.

The Muslims in the survey emphasized how important it was for them to be open and positive towards people who behaved hatefully. This allowed them to counteract prejudices and try to turn negative events into something positive.

Amina (19) said that she had had several encounters with people who bullied Muslims, but that she had a positive experience when she treated them with kindness:

"Many people start by attacking everything about me, whether it’s my religion or that I’m wearing a hijab. But the more effort I invest in them, the more I engage them in dialogue, the more often they actually end up saying that I am open and generous."

A third way to respond is to set a good example with your life.

This means following religious role models and showing that Islam is a peaceful religion. In this way, the young Muslims also tried to disprove the negative prejudices that trigger much of the bullying.

Sara, 24, said she thought about stories about the Prophet (PBUH) that she knew from childhood.

"Even if a person acts like a bastard towards you, you should never drop to that level. You must rise above it. It's the same as with Islam: No matter how bad other people are, you should be a good person back. "

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