Thursday, August 18, 2016

Arabic, Islamophobia, and a tote bag

Source: Abir Ghattas
The bag, shot in Berlin by Abir Ghattas says, "there is no point to this text apart from scaring those who are afraid of Arabic language". Apparently it was designed by Rock Paper Scissors - a graphic design studio/print shop based in Haifa which is run by Sana Jammalieh and Haitham Charles Haddad.
So there, with people being stopped from going on planes ad denied a Disney vacation for "traveling while Muslim", or kicked off the plane for using Arabic in their discussions or on the cell phone, the bag is on par with "I am not a terrorist please don't arrest me" t-shirt by Vivienne Westwood (which actually got an Arab woman detained by airport security for being suspicious because she was wearing it). Even reading an English book about the cultural anthology of Syria or solving a math equation can land you in hot water. Do not even think of wearing your national clothing by the way, as the hotel reception where you are would call the police to come and fetch you.
Needless to say, Arabic has become the cursed language par excellence as it is immediately related to Islam and islamophobia which is rampant at this stage and the text on this bag epitomizes this tendency. Interestingly, it is not just islamophobia but Arabophobia regardless if people are indeed Muslim or not as in the recent killing of Khalid Jabara in Tulsa Oklahoma who happened to be Christian, or the attack on a Sikh temple being confused with a mosque in Wisconsin.
In Arabic (ooops!) we say "the worst of the plights is the one that makes you laugh"...
We are laughing, but sadly, the joke is on us!