The Woman Who Cried Goat

Recently, Capetonian blogger Asiha Baker (@bakedonline) launched a Twitter thread regarding an encounter I initially considered laughable.

The thread explains an incident she experienced whilst attending a children’s birthday party in Woodstock, Cape Town. Due to the large gathering of Muslims in an area, accompanied by an animal, it was naturally assumed to be a  Qurbaan, an Islamic sacrificial ceremony. I would like to point out that a Qurbaan is not a savage, inhumane ritual like many believe it to be. This assumption is not merely offensive, but a blatant form of racial prejudice.

As a Muslim woman, I tend to take misconceptions of Islam very lightly, as I’ve mostly encountered people with genuine questions and innocent queries. I’ve had people ask if Muslim women must sleep with their Hijab on, questions about why Eid is on a different date every year, or what makes food Halal. I’m happy to answer these questions, I welcome these questions, I giggle about them at family gatherings. I'm not offended by ignorance, for the pure definition of ignorance is to lack understanding. There are so many different religions and cultures in this world, it's impossible to be 100% knowledgeable on every single one.  However, some misconceptions regarding Islam tend to escalate feelings of fear and violence.

I initially found the fact that a someone would actually run away from a kiddie’s party due to an unfortunate misunderstanding funny. 

 

But, the further I traveled down the thread, the more I felt my heart sink. Their ignorance no longer amused me, but frightened me.

Islamophobia is by no means a new phenomenon. We see it in Western Media constantly. With the changing times and the growth of liberalism, it is seen as taboo for people to be openly Islamophobic - but that doesn’t mean it disappears. It merely reshapes itself into more subtle forms. Hence the case of “I don’t blame you”, in response to the original poster running away in fear – clearly it isn’t an individual mindset but one that many people share. Cape Town has a rather large Muslim community, and the fact that this exchange went on in what seems to be an area’s group chat shows that people literally have such extreme perceptions of their own neighbors – who’s to say what they might assume about religious or racial groups they’ve had no interaction with. I applaud Baker for using this platform to shed light on this incident, because perhaps the more it is spoken about, the more people will actually stop to think before they jump to such offensive and violent assumptions.

It isn’t a case of bashing and shaming those who make these assumptions, but rather to highlight the misunderstanding, correct it, and educate those who have a similar mindset in the process.

To conclude, always remember these wise words from SAPS: