Magazine article The Middle East

Qatar's Sheika Moza Speaks out against "Dehumanisation" of Muslims

Magazine article The Middle East

Qatar's Sheika Moza Speaks out against "Dehumanisation" of Muslims

Article excerpt

A senior member of the Qatar royal family has warned that Muslims are being "dehumanised" by the coverage of violent extremism in the Middle East. "Why do Muslim lives seem to matter less than the lives of others?" asked Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in a speech at Oxford University. The division between East and West was creating a "fear and suspicion of all things Islamic", she said. Sheikha Moza also warned against "violent repression" in the Arab world.

Widely seen as one of the most influential women in the Middle East, Sheikha Moza warned an audience at Oxford University of the dangers of negative stereotypes in the West. The failure of progressive politics in the Middle East was fuelling "distorted and perverted" interpretations of Islam, she added.

Sheikha Moza at the opening of the new Middle East Centre at St Antony's College, which was designed by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid (left).

Speaking at the opening of a new building at the Middle East Centre at St Antony's College, Sheikha Moza warned that while there was an "intellectual curiosity" in the West about Islamic culture, individual "real, living Muslims" faced growing distrust.

She described this as being "Muslim-phobia", as distinct from claims of "Islamophobia".

And she questioned whether globalisation was really achieving more "pluralistic" societies.

"A Muslim is first and foremost identified as a Muslim, rather than simply a human being. Whether they are Pakistani, Malaysian, Senegalese, or even British born, their multiple identities are levelled under

a constructed monolith of Islam," she said.

This collective identity was seen as something "fearful and unknowable", said Sheikha Moza, mother of the current emir of Qatar and wife of the previous ruler. The consequence was "double standards" in the reaction to the casualties of conflict, she noted.

"Only silence follows when innocent Yemeni and Pakistani children and civilians," are killed by drones, she said. …

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