“Where are your parents?”
“They’re dead,” said Harry shortly. He didn’t feel much like going into the matter with this boy.
“Oh, sorry,” said the other, not sounding sorry at all. “But they were our kind, weren’t they?”
“They were a witch and a wizard, if that’s what you mean.”
“I really don’t think they should let the other sort in, do you? They are not just the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways.”
The text above is an extract from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book of the best-selling book series in history. The scene relates the first immersion of Harry into the world of the magic, exemplifying the bigotry of the “magical” people towards the muggles, the non-magical people shown in the novel. The term used by the author J. K. Rowling along with other terms like: Squib, which refers to a person with one or more magical parents yet without any magical power/ability, and from the term muggle-born, which refers to a person with magical abilities but with non-magical parents, are used along the novel series as derogative and offensive terms.
The scorn shown by characters in the books expands to the entire culture associated to non-magical people, like sports, mentioning Quidditch (the fantastical sport played on flying brooms) as the only sport allowed to watch.
When I read the book years ago, this situation drew parallelisms with real life, bigotry and racism has been prevalent in human civilization for thousands of years, active or dormant, but in recent years has reemerged into public eye, and it feels like if bigotry has never been so alive.
United Kingdom, the sovereign country birthplace of the wizard Harry Potter has been in the world’s news recently—over three years now—since the vote in the referendum ruled to leave the European Union. Many were the reasons listed for the pro-Brexit supporters, specially focusing in the cost of sustaining the bailout of countries like Greece, but up until this date, I want to assume the real reason for leaving the EU is clear for everybody: Migration. And more specifically, Muslim Migration.
As you might remember, in 2015, EU was engulfed with a refugee crisis, in which the EU countries accepted in welcoming Syrian refugees in their countries, but as its name states, it’s referred as crisis because the high number of people seeking asylum and the challenges set to local economies for refugee absorption. This sudden relocation of people with different religion and customs has caused frictions with the locals, even for the open-minded and tolerant European culture.
The position of UK in the matter was clear, they were not allowing the refugees in, so they preferred to leave EU, giving up to the benefits instead. Weeks away of having a “Hard” Brexit, or No-Deal, in which politicians could not agree in a plan for avoid a hard border between the two Irelands (which can lead to conflicts), a lot of pro-Brexit voters regret their choice with the imminent separation, however the ambience of intolerance towards migrants is still in the air.
And it’s in this time when Muslims are personas non-grata, I wonder if J. K. Rowling had written her bestseller now, this bigotry shown in her novels, could had use as source of inspiration the Muslims migrating to the EU? Could this different kind, this Non-magical people or Muggles be a representation of the Muslims? Which as cited by her character “They are not just the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways.”
When I read The Sorcerer’s Stone, I was surprised, not by the existence of the bigotry in the novel—as I said, it’s cultural, and I love the work of art that touches the subject in clever/prepositive ways—, but by the normalization of this behavior later on as Harry “blends” in the magical society and doesn’t challenge it in a meaningful way during the story. The novel tries to compensate this behavior with the usage of the Dursley’s, Harry’s adoptive family that abuses him, as the main referral of the concept of Muggle. Just to point out, in Harry Potter’s lore, Muggle is just people afraid of magic, and with no other negative trait, they are just basically humans. Then, why to be afraid of humans? Maybe Harry’s nemesis in the novel, Voldemort, a half-blood himself, has the answer:
“You think I was going to use my filthy Muggle father’s name forever? I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch?”
In one word: Resentment.
Resentment is a persistent feeling of disgust or anger towards someone for considering him as the cause of certain offense or damage suffered and manifested in hostile words or acts…
… Acts of terrorism?
And I wonder, how rationalized is this fear by population? Or it’s already a phobia?
Something it’s certain, UK will endure a series of profound changes once it leaves the EU, and when the population fully grasps the economic inconvenience of whitdrawal, the feelings of resentment towards the Muslim population already living in the UK might grow, tensions could escalate and the access to platform Nine and Three-quarters might be restricted for the Muggles.
M. Ch. Landa