Was the Prophet Muhammad Black

racism: "Come to Islam"


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Mansur Seddiqzai works as a teacher at a high school in the Ruhr area. He repeatedly reports on his experiences at the school on ZEIT ONLINE. Here he talks about the fact that even young Muslims are not free from racism, even if they are affected by it themselves.

I met David in sixth grade. His father was a Cameroonian and a respected racism researcher, his mother German. He wore a green bomber jacket and Nike shoes and was ten years ahead of the rest of us in terms of fashion. Once - the teacher wasn't in class yet - he got up and suddenly gave a political speech. "In Africa one does not speak African", he explained, "because Africa is a continent. In Europe nobody speaks European either." David was the first of my friends to talk about being black and gave me my first lesson on Black Lives Matter.

Why does a person who is called Kanake himself need such a lesson at all? I was discriminated against myself, can't I relate to black people? We Muslims celebrate people like boxer Muhammad Ali and human rights activist Malcolm X, both Muslims. But many of us also identify with the current struggle of black Americans for equality.

After the death of George Floyd, I read on Twitter - also shared by journalists with a migration background - that the Turks, Kurds and Arabs in Germany are experiencing what black Americans are going through in the United States. But that's not true. Our parents and grandparents were not brought into the country as slaves. Black Lives Matter is about black people for good reason - not about all lives. They are often not only exposed to discrimination from the white majority society, there is also racism against black people among us non-white people. But this form of discrimination is often concealed by majority racism and thus sometimes relativized.

Chloé is 16 years old, her father is Cameroonian, her mother German. She can't do much with Cameroon, she says: "I grew up German, I don't identify with my producer's home country."

In her own family, she often feels like an outsider. She not only has to listen to misogynist and homophobic sayings from her white uncle, but also ultimately that "it is best to burn refugees". This man was an active neo-Nazi in his youth, today he is old and sick. He treats Chloé and her sister warmly, seems to ignore the color of their skin. So far, Chloé has never contradicted his statements and did not want to disturb the family peace. "But the big bang is still to come," she says. The older she gets, the less she can control her anger over his sayings.

But even at school she often has the feeling of being perceived as a stranger - among all the pupils with a migration background. This is also due to the fact that she dresses more freely than her classmates with a headscarf. She often hears the sentence: "Come to Islam!" In their opinion, this is not formulated as a friendly invitation, but as an order. "Then the alarm goes on in my head," she says. She feels that she is not accepted for who she is.

In addition to the crude proselytizing attempts, she also experiences racist hostility. A Muslim classmate recently claimed that HIV arose because Africans raped monkeys. The fact that the same student also wants to convince her of Islam confirms that she is perceived as an "unfinished being". Chloé's classmates want to bring her into the Muslim community and at the same time push her far away, that's how she experiences it.

You are like bilal!

Malik's parents are from Tunisia. We grew up together. He is black and Muslim. He says that in the mosque he was never looked at crookedly or even perceived as someone who didn't belong, on the contrary. "I was often told I was like Bilal," Malik tells me. And to be "like Bilal" is a compliment first, because Bilal was a friend of the Prophet Muhammad. He is revered to this day. But he was also a black slave whom Muslims had ransomed from his tyrannical owner.

Malik is an honest person - just like Bilal. But if it were only about this quality, one could compare him to another Companion of the Prophet. In fact, this comparison is more about skin color. The idea that blacks should convert to Islam in order to be truly free may have something to do with this story from Islamic tradition.