Please, stereotype me!

I am not a writer and I am certainly not a political analyst. I am just a concerned civil activist interested in the field of the intercultural dialogue, conflict resolution and breaking stereotypes. For the last five years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of people from different nations, religions, languages, thoughts and beliefs, but with one common link, and that is acknowledging the fact that we are all part of one human family.

If you think the last line is just part of my routine to get you to pay attention, then please stop reading this article, but if you do believe in it, please read on!

As an icebreaker, I used to introduce myself in all the trainings and meetings I attended with following introductory  sentence — “I am Karim Gaber, I am an Egyptian Muslim, young man, and don’t worry I don’t have a bomb, they took it at the airport!”

Over the last decade, media has been promoting three following words: stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. Three words that we, as doctors in psychology, consider to be very much related.

First, you have to have stereotyping thoughts which resemble our expectation and beliefs about someone, which then lead to a prejudice, which is the emotional response, and finally to discrimination which is the action.

This brings me to the recent real life situation that took place due to an unknown American, a producent of a low budget movie that promotes hatred speech against Muslims and the Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him), which then made its way to the air waves on 9/11/2012. Once it reached the Middle East and the Arab world, violent acts against U.S embassies around the world took place.

I am not going through that it is the elections year in USA and there might be a conspiracy to embarrass Obama’s administration and show that there is no way to deal with Arabs except by killing.

I am also not going through that these acts coincide with the Arab spring and the wining of the Islamic parties in some countries as Egypt and Tunisia and how media continue to promote islamophobia among the US and European countries.

I won’t go through all this because I am not a conspiracy fan guy and I will stick to what I do best which is dialogue.

I believe we should fight ideas with ideas, not with violence and so I am against all the violent acts against US embassies in the Middle East because if the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) himself were alive, He would be against it.

That takes me to a serious thought, how would prophet Mohamed (PBUH) react if He were alive? And what does Islam tell us to do against hate speech?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “He will not enter Paradise whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 15)

He also said “The best (Jihad) is (to speak) word of justice to an oppressive ruler.” (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 2040)

He is the one who said: “Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place.” (Al-Muwatta, Volume 21, Hadith 9 and 10)

These are the prophet manners that we should embrace and so, I am not angry with the movie, because probably prophet Mohamed (PBUH) wouldn’t be angry neither. He probably would go and work more to spread peace, not attack embassies.

I am sad that some Moslems, who, I am sure, love the prophet, did not follow his rules, instructions and manners but attacked embassies instead.

They were like the bear that killed his friend and they badly influenced Islam more than the movie itself.

Also, I am not surprised that the corrupted media focused on the violent acts and did not mention the majority of other Moslems who call for stopping the violence and having a productive intercultural dialogue.

I am confused that if you call a man black, you are a racist but if you promote hatred speech against prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and Islam or any religion, it is called freedom of speech.

I am not against freedom of speech, and to prove that I will ask you proudly to please stereotype me!

Yes, please stereotype me, at least by doing that you spend some of your time thinking about me, which means that you acknowledge my existence!

Congratulations, it is a huge step you have made.

Please stereotype me, collect data and thoughts. Stereotype me with all the hatred speech, but before you transform that to emotions to judge me, spend more time to come and ask me first.

I won’t ask you not to believe in it, but at least we had a dialogue.

Written by Karim Gaber, Member of the EuroArab Project Team 

Website reference for the Prophet (PBUH) Hadith


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