MindBullets 20 Years


Are 'safety zones' for protection or control?

As Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, Europe is grappling with the formation of ‘Muslim Safety Zones’. The question is: “Whose safety are they for?”

Since early last century expatriate communities in Europe have gravitated to cities and suburbs, much like Europeans abroad. Southall, Ile de France and later cities like Birmingham and Marseilles became predominantly Muslim centers.

Muslims gravitated to these centers for practical reasons and after a gradual rise in attacks, for ‘communal’ security.

While governments were initially concerned about the cities being recruiting grounds for Islamic extremists, it supposedly is easier to manage and monitor when they are kept together.

The global recession of 2009 has done little to help with economic hardships leading to frustration among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Radical groups have capitalized on rising unemployment, xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment.

Even liberal European governments, have admitted it’s difficult to protect people spread across wide areas and even harder when right-wingers infiltrate security forces.

When attacks on Muslims escalated in 2009, actively resettling Muslims became a reality. Protests against ‘Incentive and Repatriation Plans’ were scoffed at by Italy’s leader .

“It’s for safety reasons,” Berlusconi said in reaction to the International Criminal Court action seeking to declare Muslim Safety Zones illegal.

“It’s just easier to protect our Muslim citizens if they are concentrated in certain areas,” said British prime minister David Cameron.

But new questions are now being raised.

Whose safety is it for? The inhabitants or those outside?

Rumblings in Muslim countries to create ‘Christian quarters’ have raised a whole new dimension. Will future ‘repatriations’ extend across national borders?

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

2008: Anti-Muslim activities
In Europe, the UK and the United States, it becomes increasingly difficult for Muslim business people and communities to enjoy the western style of personal freedom that they have enjoyed in the past.

An IBM staffer from abroad, invited to a conference, is refused entry into the US, despite having a valid visa. Other executives are interrogated for hours on end before being allowed in, purely because they are Muslim.

A highly respected accounting professional from PWC is quizzed on arrival at Heathrow and sent home to Africa by authorities – again without cause. The multi-national companies suffering these disruptions to business are powerless to intervene – the authorities hide behind ‘national security’ concerns.

Within these countries, other incidents become more regular. Graves are desecrated in France by suspected neo-Nazis. In Germany, a mosque is vandalized.

2009: Muslim safety zones
Euro-leaders ‘convince’ Muslims to move into secure areas for their ‘safety’ as the number of anti-Islamic attacks increase, especially in Europe. These proposals are even welcomed initially by Muslims, as it is deemed ‘safer’ and supports conservative views, but creates a ghetto-style dual world with all the human-rights issues and problems.

Economic incentives are used to persuade Muslims that safety zones are for their own good. Despite this, protests are launched on several fronts, with more radical elements screaming: “They’re trying to control us – next we’ll be stripped of our rights as citizens!”

2010: Muslim ghettos mushroom
As safety zones are enforced by local planning laws, and encouraged by national rhetoric, many Muslims simply accept that life can be more comfortable ‘in the ghetto’. There’s even an economic advantage, as rents are generally cheaper, and potential business partners are plentiful in your ‘own’ community.

But the creeping normality of designated Muslim areas hides an insidious social schism. If it’s advisable to keep people in separate urban areas to minimize conflict, then prejudice and discrimination will sub-consciously seem justified, and become entrenched.

Predominantly Islamic countries might well be entitled to insist on ‘Christian Quarters’ for their ‘foreign’ residents.

The real question is: If people don’t live together… how will they ever learn how to live together?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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