By Nada Dosti
The decision of the Albanian government to accept a large number of Iranian people, the so called mujahidin who are part of the Iranian opposition migrated has made the opinion, in Albania, to search, focus and of course to comment about it. Institutional voices have shown a slow and quiet opinion about the topic, however the social ones are boiling, especially when it comes to the veil.
This was followed by an explosion of islamophobia on social media, which is badly confused with mujahidinophobia (which I choose to use as a term to show a fear from those people as part of an ex-terrorist organization). Although between them has less than nothing in common, except the physical appearance. Let’s take as an example a journalistic tool which contributes on feeding the ignorant masses of people which later will comment on social media.
The online newspaper “Gazeta Blic” through a screenshot picture from a video on youtube posted by Ora News, makes it as a cover picture of an article, which is a half translation of the article taken from The Huffington Post, titled: “Mujahidin in Albania: a risk for the country”.
But the title is in contradiction with a part of the contents: in an instance the article from Ora News is cited and the same interview in the article is titled: “Mujahidin in Albania, Sevim Arbana: there is no risk coming from them”.
It is known that the cover picture and the title are the most important part of an article and most of the audience usually don’t go further. The pictures used to illustrate the situation of the mujahidin in Albania are most of the time choosen while representing Muslim women with the veil. But why is the image of women always used and not that of males? What kind of consequences can come beyond this representation related to the image of Albanian Muslim women?
Days ago on its Facebook account , Olsi Bocka posted a picture where three veiled Muslim women are showed while walking in Tirana’s streets. The picture is presented with the caption:
“Already part of the everyday life: three mujahidin women (from almost 3000 who will be located in our country) of the ex-terrorist organization MEK (People’s Mujahedin of Iran) walking normally in the center of the town after having shopping.”
But right now all of Europe is going suffering terribly from islamophobia. Every Muslim is seen as a potential terrorist and backwards, and in Albania too, it seems like the same tools are being used. They use similar images and equate any Muslim women with the veil and/or brown skin with the mujahidin women. Especially when we all know that most Albanian people cannot tell the difference. We are not well known for a multicultural population so we can easily identify the Iranian women from the others.. As a result, panic, prejudice, and suspicion against veiled women may come to dominate the society. We can notice this confusion among some comments from the post of Olsi Bocka:
“Sokol -vërtetë janë import? nuk janë prodhim vendas?”/ Sokol- are they truly an import? Aren’t they domestic production?
“Besa Mund te jene dhe turkesha xhanem. Lagjja ime is full of”/ Besa- they can be Turkish also, my neighbor is full of them.
At least we can mention about this group is that they are a political sect. So for them the reason why they are against their own government is not religion or faith. And their way of dressing, although it seems to have a religious aspect, it contains custom components just like many other countries of the Middle East. It’s normal to feel fear from this group and this fear comes from the lack of knowledge related to them and their political persecution. This is normal until we don’t cross the border and fall into islamophobia.. just because of a simple veil.