Beating stereotypes: Focus on Islam

As religion teachers, we must beat stereotypes. Every religion has stereotypes. As one of my favourite lecturers Eoin Cassidy used to say ‘there is light and shadow in every religion’. Every religion has problems. No religion is perfect. We must teach our pupils to be tolerant and to convey respect to other religions.

One of the most important life lessons you will learn is to never judge a book by its cover. 

Since 9/11 many Muslims are stereotyped. Many get called ‘terrorists’ and are told to go back to their own country.We must teach our pupils that not every Muslim is an Arab and not every Muslim is a terrorist! I am not saying only Muslims get stereotyped. Like I said every religion faces stereotypes. For example in Christianity, years ago priests  in Ireland got a bad rep even though not every priest was a molester. It was only a small minority. However, in this blog post I want to focus on Islam.

Islamophobia is hatred/dislike/prejudice against Muslims. It is a term that existed before 9/11. It was first introduced as a concept in a Runnymede Trust Report in 1991.

This week I read an article in the paper about two Muslim women being abused because of ISIS. The two Muslims were accompanied by a child and one of the women was pregnant. The pregnant was threatened that she would be kicked in the stomach. “I will kick you in the stomach. I will pull that down and kick you, so you never have a kid again. I will donkey kick you. It will be the first time I’ve ever resorted to violence in public.” According to data from the Metropolitan police, who have been recording hate crime data since 2013, there has been a 70% increase in attacks on Muslims in the past year. According to Tell Mama, which monitors Islamophobic attacks, women were the primary targets.

This is an amazing video that they made about Muslim stereotypes.

These are two responses from Muslims about the Buzzfeed video clip.

This is a great video clip about 10 misconceptions against Muslims. 

This is a great classroom resource as kit conveys non-Muslim women learning about and then having a positive experience wearing the hijab.

This social experiment video clip portrays a woman walking down around New York for 5 hours wearing a t-shirt and jeans and walking around for another 5 hours wearing a Hijab. 

Before you show this video clip, put your students into groups and get your groups to write down two things that they will think will happen the woman when she wears jeans and a t-shirt and then two things that they think will happen the woman when she wears the Hijab. Then give the students a hand out each and ask them to write down what happens the woman in the two different situations. After watching the video clip, talk about what they wrote down for what happened the woman in the two different circumstances and then discuss whether their first answers matched what they saw happen in the video clip and then discuss the differences the woman experienced dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and dressed in a Hijab.

Here is a good video which features some tips for your students to combat racism. 

Here is a video clip which conveys how the role of women in Islam has changed.

This is fantastic video clip where a young girl talks about stereotypes.

Here is a true story about a woman being abused on a bus because she was wearing a Hijab. http://www.doamuslims.org/?p=2018

You could use this true story to demonstrate role play in the classroom. Read through the story first and then get a number of students to act out the story. Then ask the students some questions about the situation.

Questions to be asked could be:

  1. How do you feel when the couple are abusing you?
  2. How do you feel when the other people on the bus do not help you?
  3. What should she have done? What would you have done?
  4. What do you think about this situation?

A good case study to use in class is Nadiya Hussain.

She  recently won The Great British Bake Off series 5. By participating and winning the contest, she has done so much for British Muslim women and also Muslim women everywhere.

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Here are some links about the positive impact of her win.

http://www.onislam.net/english/family/your-society/495127-nadiyas-win-crushes-uk-black-muslim-stereotypes.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/08/nadiya-hussain-has-won-so-much-more-than-the-great-british-bake-off

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