Diversity is a reality

Three years ago, while working on Us/Them, my project on Muslim women and the veil in Belgium, I took this picture below of the election campaign of extreme-right political party Vlaams Belang.
(It still creeps me out that this type of advertisement polarizing and stigmatizing is possible at all.)

© Wendy Marijnissen - Extreme right political party Vlaams Belang started their campaign for the local elections with a poster of a woman in bikini wearing a burqa. The slogan read 'Freedom or Islam? Dare to choose', presenting Islam as the biggest threat to Flemish society. Aartselaar, Belgium, 2012

Extreme right political party Vlaams Belang started their campaign for the local elections with a poster of a woman in bikini wearing a burqa. The slogan read ‘Freedom or Islam? Dare to choose’, presenting Islam as the biggest threat to Flemish society. Aartselaar, Belgium, 2012  © Wendy Marijnissen

Today, I’m reminded once more of how relevant my project US/Them is…

I’m reading an article in the newspaper about how aggression against Muslims is on the rise after the sparked fear following the killings in the offices of Charlie Hebdou in Paris, the incident in Verviers and the Belgian army guarding ‘strategic places’ in the streets of my city Antwerp.

Muslim people are being harassed for being Muslim. They get remarks or are called terrorists because they wear a headscarf or jellaba…

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

In this climate of fear and hate, an anti-Muslim movement Pegida Vlaanderen has arisen and is trying it’s best to create even more fear and distance between people.

Yet they seem to forget that diversity is already and always will be a reality and something everyone needs to accept. Instead of polarizing somebody because they wear different clothes or have different religious believes, we should put more effort into ways of learning from each other and making sure everyone has chances to participate and feel included in our society.

It shouldn’t be ‘Us versus Them, but ‘together’. WE all are ONE

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

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