my campaign for becoming queen of nz is gaining momentum, in that i have now doubled the number of my willing subjects from 1 to 2. a significant increase in percentage terms. now i only have to convince at least 1,999,999 other people, and i'm in there with a solid chance.
the race relations report covering 2010 (pdf) is now out, and i have received my own copy. i haven't had time to read it just yet, but i understand from checkpoint that the number of complaints by muslims has increased from fifty-something in 2009 to 71 in 2010. the trouble is that we can't tell if this represents a higher level of discrimination, or people understanding the complaints process better and/or being more willing to lodge a complaint.
my own gut feeling is that things weren't any different last year to the way the way they were in 2009. most often, the kind of nz'ers who will harass or discriminate react most to overseas events. and the community centre near ground zero did result in some pretty nasty media coverage & nastiness in public spaces on the internet. the pastor who, with his small congregation, was all set to burn copies of the qur'an probably did muslims around the world a great deal of good, due to the genral revulsion he caused.
overseas, it will be interesting to see how the unrest in northern africa and the middle east will affect local perceptions of muslims. like it or not, even though a larger number of muslims live outside the middle east than within it, perceptions of muslims are greatly determined by events in the middle east. the current round of protests have had widespread coverage in the western media, and we have finally heard the voices of every day people. i've decided that frank bunce is a wonderful person, after watching his trip through egypt on intrepid journeys (which you can watch on the tvnz site if you missed it, see here). this and news reports brought that monolith called "arab" down to ordinary people with simple dreams, and has helped westerners to identify with their struggles.
despite this, the republican party in america is doing it's best to ensure demonisation of muslims continues, with the inquiry led by representative peter king. the topic of the hearing is "the extent of the radicalisation of american muslims". that the whole thing is a farce can be seen from this article in the new york times. CAIR weren't allowed to testify orally at the hearings, but here is a copy of their written testimony. here is the testimony of representative keith ellison, a muslim:
as a result of this hearing, harassment of muslims in america is on the rise again. there are too many examples to list, but below is a video of a protest in orange county against muslims who were attending a charity event to raise money for women's shelter. i haven't watched the whole video, i couldn't do it. i stopped at hearing the chants of "go home now" in the first minute, as i found it too upsetting, so a trigger-warning for those who have difficulty watching bigotry in action:
coming back to race relations in nz, i guess we should be thankful that we don't have to suffer this sort of thing here. we're certainly way better off than our counterparts in america, and also better off than the muslims of libya, bahrain, yemen, and saudi arabia. we have peace, we are generally free from extreme harassment and violence. but even so, things are far from perfect and i reject the notion that because those in other countries have it much worse, we should be silent about discrimination in this country.
it's election year this year, and all members of minority communities brace themselves as politicians grow ever belligerent in their use of rhetoric against us. the attack is on the maori community just now, given the foreshore & seabed law is currently being debated, and ACT is right at the forefront of the worst of it. but mr peters is looking for a comeback, and as the pressure mounts, national may well join in.
hopefully i'll get around to reading the report soon. i hope you will as well.