In April 2014, The British newspaper ‘The Independent’ have reported that Saudi Arabia has criticised Norway's human rights record during the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review, in which 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined. Russia meanwhile called for Norway to clamp down on expressions of religious intolerance and and criticised the country’s child welfare system.
The Norwegian foreign minister commented on this criticism saying “It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations,”
Months later, The Egyptian government took an advantage of the civilians killing incidents which some American police officers was involved in to direct a sharp criticism toward what they consider as a clear human rights violations on the American soils. Meanwhile, the Egyptian police wrote on their Facebook official page giving a “tips” to the american police officers about how to handle the peaceful demonstrations without causing human lives loses, the thing which made some activists making fun of the Egyptian government’s contradictory behavior, as it have a bad reputation concerning human rights and that the police and army have killed hundreds of protesters and detainees as a result of an excessive use of violence and physical torture in the past few years !!
I always memorize this incidents and other similar situations when some Arabs and Muslims start accusing the west of practicing racism and discrimination against immigrants, because many of those who take the lead in this criticism do not care at all about discrimination, racism and all kinds of human rights violations, and some of them practice such violations and praising it without shaking single eyelid. but they forget about that and direct those accusations toward the west with what they are themselves doing as they are trying to throw dust in eyes..
The western world are always chased by its colonial history which was marred by an explicit racism practices and violations of human dignity in the countries which were occupied during the past centuries. and despite the fact that all of those crimes and violations became part of a history irrelevant to our current reality, and despite the fact that such practices were condemned, regretted and apologized for by the past colonizing countries, however, some young Europeans who had no connection at all with such violations away from that they read and heard about it inherited a guilt feeling from their ancestors; a feeling which being fed by the increase of the immigration from the post colonized countries to Europe, where some Europeans feel guilt combined with a moral responsibility for any actual or possible sufferings might those immigrants go through, and they got a painful feeling that those inherited guilt is impossible to be erased or forgotten. Their daily life and their dealings with others is a personification of this inherited guilt. I met with many of them whose sensitivity toward racism and discrimination touch even some things might not be noticeable by those who is most likely targeted with discrimination and racism!!
Last December, I went with a friend of mine who is french living in Berlin to watch “The magic flute” opera in Berlin opera house. That was my first time i watch this show in theater after i watched it many times on screens. The show started and ten minutes passed before my friend started expressing intense anger and resentment over the appearance of an actor on the stage with a face painted in black as he played one of the opera’s roles. My friend told me that he is not able to continue the show and that he will wait for me outside.
On our way back my friend start explaining to me why he was angry. he said that he can’t accept when a white actors painting their faces in black to characterize black people and he consider it racist and humiliating. He also claimed that the opera houses don’t accept black people to act on the stage. I asked him if he would feel better if this role was played by a real black man? He silenced a bit and he was apparently thinking before he answered refusing playing such role at all and saying that the text characterizing the black people with a stereotypical brutal and bloody roles and that's why he is opposing playing this role basically which means in his opinion that the opera houses should stop showing such classic works to avoid promoting racism or they can modify the script and cleaning it from all suspected racism that included.
This friend was not the only one who adopt such position, but some Europeans i know do not care much about some brutal violations against human rights practiced in the middle east and Africa and have something to do with traditions or religion as they care about an opera show, movie or a piece of literature contained a suspected racism, and sometimes they blame their own people accusing them with that they helped on the occurrence of such violations because that the colonization prevented those who is committing such violations from getting rid of such traditions and thoughts that justify it.
I don’t underestimate here any racist or discriminatory attitude no matter how small, and i think that all racism suspicions should be addressed and opposed before it grows up and become an acceptable reality and prevalent habits as its in the middle east. and i also believe that we shouldn’t tolerate or underestimate any kind of violation against human rights no matter how small it is and wherever it happened and i think that all of those things should be confronted strongly and firmly to guarantee that it will not be repeated in the future. and i also urge everybody who have been through a situation where his rights were violated and/or he have been discriminated against to stand strongly against it and not keep silent, and also those who witness such situations to take a strong actions against it who knows they might became a victims of similar situations one day.
Here comes an Important question about whether those who practice racism, discrimination and violations against human rights without shaking an eyelid are also entitled to accuse others of what they do ?! and if those accusations was based on a real grounds should we take it in consideration and react toward it seriously ?! should we react or give attention toward an allegation made by a terrorist who is for example supporting IS or Al-Qaeda and/or fought under their flags, brutally tortured and beheaded people, that he has been subjected to a violation of his human rights in jail, like if he was not allowed to leave his cell or to meet with his family or talking to them in phone or if he claimed that the police practiced racism and discrimination against him?!
As a result of a long bloody colonial history, the term “white man” has been associated with racism and brutality, even after those practices turned into just a words in books and exhibits in museums, the great grandparent’s shame is still chasing their descendants who are mostly abandoned this colonial patriarchal racist legacy and distanced themselves from it.
Ironically, Those who are supposed to be a historical victims for the white man’s brutal activities and now they are accusing Europeans all the time with racism, discrimination and violating the basic human rights in every occasion are not hesitating at the mean time of practicing racism and discrimination without fearing of being accused of it. It seems like racism and discrimination became an exclusive accusations goes only for the white people, while any other people no matter how cruel and barbaric their crimes and atrocities is, they have an eternal impunity protecting them from such accusations just because they used to be a spoiled historical victim for the white man who hold the eternal shame which he inherited to his grandsons and their offspring !!
After i moved to Norway as a political refugee, I started attending some lessons at Nygård skole organized by the Introduction center for refugees in Bergen as part of The Introduction program for refugees. One of those lessons was called in Norwegian “Tema måte” where there was a Norwegian person from an Iraqi origins leading it, talking in Norwegian while several translators sitting in the room and telling us what he say in our languages. Different topics was opened for discussion in this meeting which was held every Tuesday, and in the first meeting he talked to us about racism saying its widely scattered in Norway and the right wing had stopped organizing demonstration against immigration policies but he believe that they work now underground aiming to expel all the immigrants who came originally from Africa and middle east outside Norway and that we should stick to being part of this society and that he personally does not talk about his ethnic origin as he insists on being just Norwegian to stop anyone who dare to question his belonging to Norway. Then he opened a discussion with us about the manifestations of racism which probably encountered the people who are attending this meeting. Those manifestations according to what the students who was attending this class said was ranged between an uncomfortable eye contact with a person passing by in the street and reach its maximum with a Yemeni guy he said that he felt uncomfortable because he believe that Norwegians avoid sitting next to him in the bus marking that as its a clear racism and discriminatory attitude. The teacher reacted to what students told agreeing on that its a clear signs of the presence of blatant racism and discrimination against immigrants in the Norwegian society!!!
But this teacher who was showing us his concern towards what he sees as growing phenomena of racism and discrimination as he felt it in the Norwegian society and his fear of the rise of the far right wing, did not hesitate during another lesson to warn us of thinking of marrying Norwegian women , why ?!! because they are in his own words “ Very expensive” and “ cost a lot of money” . In another occasion he used the term “ buy a woman” as euphemism of “Marrying a woman”. In another lesson he was telling us a story about a Pakistani man who couldn’t “buy a woman” to marry her as he have no enough money so he found its relevant to buy a goat instead since the goat is much cheaper than a woman !! all that happened inside a program supposedly it made for integrating immigrants in The Norwegian society and that the Norwegian government spend a lot of money on it !! What a great integration results are expected from such program !!!
What which many Europeans who pay yet the price of their ancestor’s follies may not know that if we compared the suspicious racism - if any- has currently practiced toward immigrants with the racist practices committed by those with wheat skin color toward who have darker skin in the middle eastern countries they might start rethinking of their perceptions about themselves and the others.
In Saudi Arabia and all Arab Persian gulf states for example, people still using the word “Slave” (a’bd) in their daily conversations to refer to every individual with darker skin, the word “slave” replace the word “ dark skinned” or “ black” , so they say for example : My “Slave” friend John did this and that ….. , Or: I bought this phone the shop where the “Slave” John works ….., without feeling that they utter a racist expressions. such expression you could found it used naturally even by many people there who claim that they support human rights values and and oppose racism, but they couldn’t get rid of the racism hidden inside daily normal talks.
In Saudi Arabia also, the authorities launched a campaign in the fourth of November 2013 targeting the Ethiopian workers, arresting them claiming that they are violating the immigration laws. This campaign have been accompanied with waves of attacks and assaults launched by normal Saudi citizens armed with swords and choppers. They attacked the places where Ethiopian workers living with their families, beating them up and torturing them severely, recording that with their mobile cameras. Some workers died under torture, other killed after the police shot them in the streets. Some of the Saudi citizens who took part in this assaults proudly documented what they did with video recordings uploaded later on YouTube !!
And in Egypt where i was born and lived until the age of 27, the racism against black-skinned people is really clear and unmistakable for anyone’s eye or ear. Mothers for example get so angry if their sons or daughters thought about marrying a dark skin person, and most people agree on a certain beauty standards which according to it people with darker skin are considered ugly. The movies and dramas put Nubians, who is originally from southern Egypt and characterized by brown skin and local language in a stereotyped roles as servants and doormen.
and yet those who have darker skin color are not allowed to work as news readers or as presenters in the Egyptian state television.
In 2005, the Egyptian police killed 23 Sudanese refugees (according to some Sudanese activists the real number is 56) in the last days of the year while they was clearing a peaceful sit-in organized in front of the UNHCR headquarters in Cairo as those refugees was demanding being sent to a third country. The police broke up this peaceful sit-in after they got complaints from the residents of the surrounding area who claimed that they have been affected by the presence of those Sudanese people in their high classy neighbourhood saying that they “smell bad” and “having sex in the streets as animals”. After the police got involved and the sit in had cleared the sit-in which was resulted in killing of children, youth and old people of both sexes, those high classy residents expressed their satisfaction for what has happened.
In September 2007, i was spending my four years prison sentence on charges connected to my writings at Borg El-Arab Prison near Alexandria, when the prison received a large number of prisoners who came from different African countries, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have been arrested and sentenced to one year imprisonment by a military court on a charges of entering the country illegally through the southern borders with Sudan intending to travel to Israel.
The prison administration was treating them in an inappropriate way for human beings, they were housed in large numbers inside a number of cells which can barely fit half of them, and they wasn’t allowed to go out in the sun, the thing which made them start a mass hunger strike demanding a better treatment.
The prison administration was looking always down at them and when they decided to start their hunger strike the officers couldn’t understand how they could think about that and they thought there is something else stand behind their hunger strike decision. The officers was creating an a collective image about them; within this image’s frame they was not much more than a poor people escaped from their countries because there is famines over there with lack of food and drinkable water and that they are supposed to feel grateful to the prison administration as they are throwing them food like animals. In the end they found a solution for this dilemma when they accused me of inciting them on hunger strike just because i was talking to them in English which was apparently enough evidence to prove such a charge! and as result of that i have been punished and subjected to physical torture and spent 10 days in a solitary confinement cell deprived from having enough food and water more than half a loaf of bread with a small piece of cheese on it and a bottle of water for each day.
I often hear some stories told by immigrants in Europe tell about racism and discriminatory situations they have been through, most of those people came from Arab and Muslim countries, and of course i can’t show uncertainty toward such stories as its part of those people’s experiences which differ from person to another. But if i talked about my experience here as an immigrant in Europe with a Middle eastern physical features i can say its totally different. I can’t deny for sure that i have been exposed to some situations where i get through a suspicious discrimination when i was in poland, but it was too rare to be kept in mind for long. and after i came here to Norway i have never been through a suspicious discriminatory situation except one time when I was travelling to Slovenia last year and the man who work on KLM counter in Bergen Airport stopped me for long time claiming that Slovenia situated outside Schengen area and European union and I need a visa to travel there, which totally untrue! I showed him the list of Schengen countries on Wikipedia and that it includes Slovenia, but he insisted that Its not schengen as he tried to stop me for a while to make some phone calls perhaps to make sure that my traveling on board on this flight does not constitute a danger to the international peace and security, and i finally traveled!
With only one exception which i mentioned earlier, i didn’t feel any time that i am treated as outsider from the moment when i arrived to Bergen Airport coming from Krakow until the Moment i close this sentence with this full stop.
Finally i have to say that the racist and discriminatory practices are widely spread among Mideastern people much more than anyone can imagine, those practices targeting anyone who shows difference whether it was genetic or optional. But apparently that many people from there are unable to face themselves with their faults and crimes so they started searching like the bankrupt trader in their old notebooks for a someone pays the costs of their foolishness on behalf of them! that's why i urge my European friends to stop giving the accusations which Arabs and Muslims throw on them from their glassy houses any sort of attention that might give them a value they don’t worth to get.