Muslim students continue to feel safe at Örebro

2 mars, 2015, 16:13 International Lämna en kommentar

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris last January on Charlie Hebdo, which had been carried out by Yemenis branch of the extremist group Al-Qaida, a rising tide of Islamaphobia has been sweeping across the European Union. This increased level of hostility toward Muslims has resulted in fear, aggression, and even violence leveled against anyone even perceived as Middle Eastern such as the recent murder of three Muslims in the United States.

These acts of hate, thankfully, have not had the same impact on Örebro as they have had in other parts of the continent.

One of the assurances of Örebro University’s reputation is that they are welcoming of all people no matter their place of origin or faith, as stated in their policy statement. Many of the student population hail from nations that practice the Islamic faith and feel secure enough to be able to practice the traditions of Islam without persecution. The University religious center welcome Muslim students, as well as all other religions, to practice their faith in the campus Quite Room in Forumhuset.

While there is not official Islamic student group, we had the opportunity to speak with a few of the students that are part of this religious demographic. “Why shouldn’t I feel safe here? It’s Sweden”, seems to be the general consensus. The individuals that we spoke too, who wished to remain anonymous, denied to ever being accosted, threatened or placed in any kind of physical harm. However they had been subjected to ‘casual’ racism or offhand remarks that relies on a negative stereotype, such as jokes suggesting that they had somehow been involved with the Boston City Marathon Bombing in the United States. While these comments were hurtful they were disinclined to say that there was any kind of intentional hate speech leveled against all of people of the Middle Easter countries.

While it can not be refuted that there are antagonist elements within the Islamic faith that actively seek violence against others many others of the faith are peaceful citizens or even refugees fleeing from these extremists, such as the Yazidis in Syria fleeing from Islamic State insurgents. While these terrorist groups are at the center of the increase of anti Islam sentiments part of the blame also falls on western media. “80 to 90 percent of media portrays Muslims in a negative light”, stated one student, expressing his general dissatisfaction with how Muslims are portrayed in western media.

It is encouraging that Sweden in general Örebro University specifically, has not succumbed to the contagion of fear and intolerance like many others the world over have in recent months. Let us hope that the world can move away from demonizing everyone within a group and vie for peace.

/ Robert Brewster

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