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Western racism at its worst

Ukrainians in Adana to protest Russia's attacks on Ukraine, 5 March 2021 [Eren Bozkurt/Anadolu Agency]
Ukrainians in Adana to protest Russia's attacks on Ukraine, 5 March 2021 [Eren Bozkurt/Anadolu Agency]

They have always stressed the importance of human rights, the right of all people to live a free and dignified life, and equality among all human beings, but when it actually comes down to it, this mask has fallen, and the true face and hateful racism of Western states has been exposed. Such slogans about equality have been revealed to be a sham by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are so hollow that they are clearly not even believed in, never mind applied equally.

"This isn't a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades," opined a CBS American journalist. "This is a relatively civilised, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully too – city, where you wouldn't expect that or hope that it's going to happen."

A British Al Jazeera English presenter referred to the Ukrainians fleeing from the war as "prosperous, middle-class people who are not obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war; these are not people trying to get away from areas in North Africa, they look like any European family that you would live next door to."

Although most Africans and Asians are apparently against Russia's invasion of Ukraine and their hearts are in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the government in Kyiv decided to prevent non-whites from crossing the border as easily as white Ukrainians; it also held back Indian refugees because their country did not vote at the UN to condemn Russia.

The Russia-Ukraine war has not alerted us to the justice imbalance and double standards in global diplomacy; it has served to confirm what many have long been seeing and saying but were ignored by the mainstream. The international community turns a deaf ear and blind eye to our issues in terms of actually doing anything to address them.

In the West, suddenly resistance is acceptable; in Ukraine that is, against Russia. Even European volunteers are being encouraged to go to Ukraine to take up arms against Russian troops. The same politicians and media who sanction this, meanwhile, continue to discredit legitimate Palestinian resistance against Israel's brutal and decades-old military occupation as "terrorism". Furthermore, they laud Israel's "self-defence" as part of the "war on terror", regardless of how many innocent Palestinian civilians are killed and maimed in the process.

READ: The war in Ukraine has taught us the truth about the West's 'universal values'

When foreign fighters went to join their brothers in Iraq to fight against the US-led invasion, they were called also branded as "terrorists". Likewise in Syria, when Syrian opposition groups defend their land and freedom against the Russian- and Iranian-backed regime of the butcher Bashar Al-Assad, they too are called terrorists. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his media, meanwhile, describe his war on Ukraine as a war against neo-Nazis. There is indeed an openly neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic brigade of Ukrainians involved in the war; perversely, it is said to be armed by Israel.

Arms are being supplied openly to Ukraine. Other people involved in the defence of their own homelands have to rely on clandestine support and smuggling to get weapons and ammunition. Anything and everything sent to the Palestinians and Syrians, including humanitarian aid, is described as "support for terrorism" by the West.

It is now very clear that, in the minds of Western officials and their house media, it is acceptable to act on the generalisation that — to paraphrase George Orwell — Christians good, Muslims bad, and to hell with the consequences for oppressed and occupied people everywhere, who are more often than not these days followers of Islam. The anti-Muslim crusades are alive and well in the 21st century, openly and unashamedly so.

We should have known that this would happen eventually. Not only does the running sore of the Israeli occupation remain as a stain on humanity and a reminder of what happens when those in power condone colonial oppression, but events in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s should also have set alarm bells ringing across the Muslim world. The Bosnian Muslims faced genocide and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Orthodox Christian Serbs. The international community watched and applauded the Serbs behind the scenes, making sure that the Muslims were unable to obtain arms, and then intervening too late when the West wanted to improve its image and throw dust in the world's eyes. Many Bosnians were indistinguishable from their Serb neighbours, but were killed anyway, simply because they were Muslims.

The key to any Western action, therefore, appears to be Islam, which is hated by those in power to the extent that "our enemy's enemy is our friend". Little else explains Western inaction in the face of China's persecution of the Uyghurs, and India's treatment of its Muslim citizens.

On a more mundane level, with serious implications nonetheless, has been the sudden acceptability of political statements made by sportsmen and women. An Egyptian Muslim footballer shows support for the Palestinians in Gaza; he is punished by FIFA, football's world governing body. English Premier League players and clubs show mass support for Ukraine, and they are applauded. No FIFA punishment is pending. On the contrary, the federation has joined in, with its own sanctions on Russian teams, and sportsmen and women

There are too many contradictions to list here, but everyone knows what they are. They confirm that we are living in a one-eyed world that only sees what it wants to see. Hypocrisy is too light a word to describe what we are witnessing: Western racism and hatred at its very worst.

READ: Orientalism, Ukraine and the social disease of selective solidarity

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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