Growing up in Kabul I lived in a neighborhood with a significant number of Hindus and Sikhs but the numbers started to dissipate after the government collapsed in 1992 and by 2001, before the American led invasion, there was a few hundreds left. That same year the Taliban issued a Fatwa; the ruling by a council of prominent Islamic clerics required all non-Muslims to wear distinguishing symbol. Under the plan all non-Muslims must wear a piece of yellow cloth whenever they venture outdoors.
Many Hindus and Sikhs did not see this as unjust; I remember some rationalising the distinguishing badge as a safeguard for Hindus and Sikhs from Taliban religious police who enforced a strict line of Islamic practice through tough punishment including imprisonment and on the spot beating. The victim adopts methods to cope with injustice, this is certainly true in other cases of the tyranny of majority. The Gladiator who died or killed for the pleasure of the audience fostered and lived with a culture of chivalry and honour that reinforced the tradition.
What about the modern Western democracy? Is it still OK to oppress some by the demand of majority? Does it still have that segregating impact where the oppressed adopts mannerism and culture to cope with the injustice.
The Western democracies claim that social injustice has been addressed by the provision of Human Rights that is enshrined at the core of legal and political system. But we all know that is a load of hotair; the oppression of the minority and the emptiness of Human Rights claim is demonstrated clearest in the issue of immigration. The UK Home Office has appointed an obnoxious anti-immigration minister Nick Harper who has launched a crusade against people of certain national origins that is supported by claim of responding to popular demand for fierce restrictions on immigration. The official policy line of the Home Office is to “control” the number of immigrants from low-GDP countries in response to concern expressed by British people through democratic processes.
The Home Office has put in place new rules and regulations in order to make it difficult for people of “low GDP countries” to secure an extension to their stay. Lets consider a family with a house, a business, children born and raised in the UK, social connections, cultural and educational ties with the UK; the family has lived here legally for a decade or so and one day out of the blue the Home Office changes the rules without notification. Under the new rules recruitment of people from low GDP countries will be a violation of visa term; (if you think that is a wild rule I invite you to read the immigration website) this family is now advised by the Home Office that their visa application is refused and they should be leaving the UK.
Popular demand is questionable in the way it objectifies the minority but also the legitimacy of claim to popular support is questionable too. A closer look will show that it is not the majority but a very boisterous minority with vested interested and power that drives such agendas. The most popular tool of such a coward policy is “Framing”. Lets consider this in the case of immigration; a YouGov poll asked 2,056 people whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: “People should be free to live and work wherever they wish, and enjoy all the same rights as all other residents.”
· 54 percent of them either agreed (35 percent) or “strongly agreed” (19 percent)
· 31 percent either didn’t know (8 percent) or “neither agreed nor disagreed” (23 percent)
· Only 16 percent disagreed (12 percent) or “strongly disagreed” (4 percent)
Contrary to Home Office claim most people recognise the right of people to live and work at the place of their choice but people respond differently by how the argument is framed. The sample was then split in two the first Group was asked “whether they should be free to live and work in a foreign country” and the second group was asked “whether foreigners should be free to live and work in Britain.” Both groups replied in favour – although the first group majority (72 percent) was much bigger than the second group (46 percent). A constructive debate about immigration will aim to find a decent solution that is based on Human Rights and legal precedence with the support of rational majority. The current approach of inflammatory language and dehumanization of immigrants is a framing attempt by the anti immigration lobby that uses fear and shock to continue its oppressive policies.
Its certainly helpful to recognise depth and extent of personal issues such as anger, hate and imprudence while trying to make heads of ghettos, terrorism and disillusionment. However personalities thrive within a subculture or a group mentality and government policies of neglect, scapegoating and oppression of minorities have contributed to the formation of those undercultures.