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Watch Out for This Antipathetic Culture - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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“Conceited” “spiteful”, “an enemy of cleanliness”, “fond of filthy places”, “fills the street with garbage”, “usually wear his clothes without underwear”, “he bathes every 10 years&#34: These are just some of the messages spread via the internet and other modern means of communication. It reflects the increase in disrespect for the ethics held by different people, and it is a sign of existing racism. The above expressions are in reference to a certain population of laborers; these terms were used when calling for their expulsion and further more promoting a culture of contempt.

There are various opinions and ideas about the different people that populate our societies, and these subjective views are to be expected. But clearly there is very big difference between subjective opinion and the vilification of people according to their race, religion and color. Prejudiced ideas lead to unfair judgments that are far from appropriate for any society that claims to uphold justice and possess ethics.

So when I call out for an end to prejudice, I am not advocating the persecution of those responsible. I am calling for a change in culture, and a move away from an atmosphere of contempt. Racism is hateful and stems from generalized judgments: A culture of forgiveness is the basis for coexistence and stability in mixed societies.

Having suffered our fair share of racism, we Arabs and Muslims should be more forgiving and caring than any other race. Arab countries have such large populations and the Arab people have emigrated in huge numbers across the globe. It is for this reason that we should be ahead of other countries in combating racism, both internally within our own nations and externally, when dealing with others states.

Unfortunately, in recent times, calls against “the other” have been on the increase. This problem has become so widely spread that you can hear these cries of hatred from some mosques. This has been due to the influence of certain extremist promoters, who find reason to hate most people. Unfortunately, the true scholars of Islam and Arab culture, who have always called for coexistence, forgiveness and justice, have not confronted them.

Lately, factional convocations have made overnight calls for the settling of historical accounts; involving peaceful people of common cultures in a vicious cycle of hatred and contempt. What is more worrying is the promotion of this hateful attitude via the mass media. Moreover, if leaders and governments do not combat these movements, these seeds of hatred will lead to the encouragement of other vicious factional ideas.

If there is something that especially needs attention, in the course of combating the spread of hatred, it is the setting of standards to which factional propagandists can be held accountable. It is time for this change in culture, as the continued spread of racism is truly abhorred.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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