Bronze-level articleIslamophobia

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Inventing "The Other"

Islamophobia

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Fear And Loathing

Islamophobia is the irrational fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims. It is usually, though not always, connected with xenophobia in general. The term is also sometimes used as a snarl word to dismiss valid criticisms of Islamic doctrines and ideology.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of the term was in 1976, though it has become more frequently used since the 1997 publication of Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All by the Runnymede Trust,[1][2] and even more so to describe the backlash against Muslims following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.[3][4]

Contents

[edit] Racism

Islamophobia is, on the outside, not racism, as Islam is a religion, not a race, and is commonly practiced among many ethnicities.[note 1] However, it is fuelled by racism, as the Western perception of Islam often associates it almost exclusively with the Arab ethnicity and Middle Eastern culture ("brown people in turbans").[5] Islam is a collection of ideas and beliefs, and, like all religions, should be criticized by rational people. When dislike of Islam takes the form of mindless irrational hatred based on cultural stereotypes, however, it becomes Islamophobia, and has many parallels with racism. For instance, Sikhs are often targeted by Islamophobes because they resemble common notions of what Muslims "look like".[6]

Some who protest that they cannot be racist because they are only ranting and obsessing about a religion, do so too loudly: "I did not have racist relations with that religion," as Nesrine Malik puts it.

Racism is behaviour, not an informed academic position. I doubt that anyone abusing Muslims in the street, or defacing a mosque, or snatching a veil off a woman's face, has paused to examine their premise beforehand. The argument that Islam is not a race is a cop out. It's time that we dispensed with it once and for all, because it prevents us from identifying acts motivated by hatred for what they really are. Islam might not be a race, but using that as a fig leaf for your unthinking prejudice is almost certainly racist.
—Nesrine Malik, writer and commentator for The Guardian[7]

In 2016, the European Islamophobia Report (EIR) presented the "European Islamophobia Report 2015"[8] at European Parliament which analyzes the "trends in the spread of Islamophobia" in 25 European states in 2015.[9] The EIR defines Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism. While not every criticism of Muslims or Islam is necessarily Islamophobic, anti-Muslim sentiments expressed through the dominant group scapegoating and excluding Muslims for the sake of power is.

[edit] Characteristics of Islamophobia

In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, chaired by Gordon Conway, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex. The Commission's report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was published in November 1997 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. In the Runnymede report, Islamophobia was defined in general as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination."

In detail, The Runnymede Trust defines Islamophobia as having the following characteristics:

  1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
  2. Islamic culture is seen as separate and "other." It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
  3. Islamic ideology is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
  4. Muslims are seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a Clash of Civilizations.
  5. Islam is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
  6. Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
  7. Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
  8. Anti-Muslim bigotry is seen as natural and normal.

The largest project monitoring Islamophobia was undertaken following 9/11 by the EU watchdog, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). Their May 2002 report "Summary report on Islamophobia in the EU after 11 September 2001", written by Chris Allen and Jorgen S. Nielsen of the University of Birmingham, was based on 75 reports — 15 from each EU member nation.[10] The report highlighted the regularity with which ordinary Muslims became targets for abusive and sometimes violent retaliatory attacks after 9/11. Despite localized differences within each member nation, the recurrence of attacks on recognizable and visible traits of Islam and Muslims was the report's most significant finding. Incidents consisted of verbal abuse, blaming all Muslims for terrorism, forcibly removing women's hijabs, spitting on Muslims, calling children "Osama", and random assaults. A number of Muslims were hospitalized and in one instance paralyzed.[133] The report also discussed the portrayal of Muslims in the media. Inherent negativity, stereotypical images, fantastical representations, and exaggerated caricatures were all identified. The report concluded that "a greater receptivity towards anti-Muslim and other xenophobic ideas and sentiments has, and may well continue, to become more tolerated."

The EUMC has since released a number of publications related to Islamophobia, including The Fight against Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Bringing Communities together (European Round Tables Meetings) (2003) and Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia (2006).[11]

Islamaphobia can also appear in the following forms (not from Runnymede Trust):

[edit] Islamophobia as xenophobia or nativism

  • Muslim immigrants to Christian countries in the West are seen as part of a much greater plot by the "Muslim world" to conquer the rest of the world, or at least the West.
  • Muslim immigrants as a whole are seen as unwilling to become part of their host country's culture and society.
  • Opposing such immigration for the above reasons, aka denying people the right to immigrate on account of their political views.
  • Deporting them on account of the above reasons.

[edit] Pseudo-historical Islamophobia

  • Muslims are blamed for the crusades.
  • Fabricating past crimes against humanity that Muslims, in the fabrication, perpetrated against non-Muslims, as in Anders Behring Breivik's manifesto, when he claims that there were attacks Muslim Albanians made on Christian countries.
  • Claiming that it was the Bosniaks who attempted genocide and conquest against the Serbs and Croats (it was the other way around), as Breivik also does.
  • Denying or minimizing the extent of the Srebrenica massacre.
  • Claims that Jefferson despised Muslims during the Barbary Wars or some other Appeal to authority that isn't even true

[edit] Other

  • Grossly exaggerating the number of Muslims who are terrorists or who hate the West.
  • Opposing religious freedom for Muslims.
  • Actual attacks of violence against people for being Muslims or looking like they might be Muslims.
  • Endorsing ethnic profiling of Muslims on grounds that they're easily prone to radicalization and/or violence.

[edit] Examples of Islamophobia

  • On September 15, 2001 a Sikh man (Sikhs being known for wearing distinctive beards and turbans, and also for not being Muslims) was murdered at a gas station in Mesa, Arizona, "in revenge for the 11 September attacks." His murderer, Frank Silva Roque, was convicted and initially sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole by the Arizona Supreme Court.[12]
  • In a February 2002 interview with the LA Times, John Ashcroft stated "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends His son to die for you." Unless your name is Abraham (just kidding!) or Jephthah (for realz[note 2])
  • In November 2006, Jerry Klein, a DC-area radio talk show host suggested, in parody of Islamophobic views, that "identifying markers ... I'm thinking either it should be an arm band, a crescent moon arm band, or it should be a crescent moon tattoo ... If it means that we have to round them up and do a tattoo in a place where everybody knows where to find it, then that's what we'll have to do."[13] Although some callers believed that Klein was "off his rocker" for suggesting such a thing, other callers believed Klein had not gone far enough, and suggested that Muslims should be placed in concentration camps, or deported en-masse. Klein exposed the parody at the close of his show, and chastised those who had called in to support what amounted to, in essence, a new Holocaust against Muslims. And then, in 2015, it became a part of the platform of one of the biggest Republican candidates, Donald Trump.
  • The 2010 Halal soup controversy erupted when Campbell's introduced a line of canned soups that met with Halal dietary restrictions. The hysteria went as far as "Your kids might be eating halal food without you even realizing it!" (as though eating something that passes the halal restrictions would turn you into a Muslim?)[note 3]
  • After the 2013 Boston bombings, frequent Fox News talking head Erik Rush tweeted that Muslims are evil and that the obvious thing to do was kill them all. This was sent out despite the fact that no group - Islamist or otherwise - had taken responsibility for the bombings at the time.[14]
  • In 2012, 2013 and 2014, extremist Buddhists in Burma are killing Muslims for being Muslims by the tens and hundreds, and displacing Muslims by the tens of thousands. Some of the violence is connected to the 969 Movement.
  • In August of 2015 Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posted a graphic on Facebook calling for nuclear bombs to be dropped on Muslim countries.[15]
  • By 2014 the UN found that 60 million people were displaced and seeking refugee status, or otherwise fleeing, with the Syrian civil war being the largest driver.[16] Refugees, many or most of them Muslims, are being refused asylum in other countries at a level unprecedented since Jews were turned away during WWII. A large part of the reason is the anti-Muslim animus pervasive in Europe.[17]
  • Pegida[wp] is an anti-Islam "movement" of intellectually challenged citizens of Germany - mostly the East - who claim to be "not a Nazi, but...". Thankfully their heyday was in the winter of 2014/2015 and is mostly over.
  • Obama is frequently accused of being a Muslim, as if that would somehow make him less fit to be President.
  • "Islam is a Satanic cult of murder, not a 'religion,'" tweeted the Travis County, Texas GOP on September 21, 2015. The tweet was deleted after media attention.[18]
  • An Indiana University student was arrested for allegedly slamming a Muslim woman's head into a cafe table and trying to rip off her head scarf while shouting "white power" and "kill them all."[19]
  • An angry Minnesota woman smashed a beer mug across the face of a Muslim woman who was wearing a hijab and speaking Swahili in an Applebee’s restaurant.[20]
  • In November of 2015 in the wake of the Daesh terror attacks in Paris, the United States Congress passed a bill to limit the ability of Syrian war refugees to be sheltered in the US,[21] notwithstanding that the refugees are themselves fleeing Daesh. Additionally, 30 state governors declared that they will not accept the refugees in their states,[22]
  • In December of 2015, hate crimes against Muslims like arson, assault and shooting have tripled in past month;[23] Connecticut man is arrested for shooting at a mosque after endless Facebook posts saying such reasonable things as: "Kill all Muslims." [24]
  • In 2015, a man at a town hall meeting shouted "Every Muslim is a terrorist" at a muslim man who was showing plans for a new mosque on land he already claimed ownership for. At least three members of the crowd cheered on the anti-Muslim man. [25]
  • Jan Morgan, an NRA advocate who banned Muslims from her gun range, also owns a website "JanMorganMedia". In an article, she refers to Islam as a terrorist cult which is plotting world denomination, and all muslims want to destroy America. [26]
  • Anti-Muslim website Bare Naked Islam warns against making friendships with Muslims. [27]

[edit] Criticism of the concept of Islamophobia

This is very urgent business, ladies and gentlemen, I beseech you: resist it while you still can and before the right to complain is taken away from you, which will be the next thing. You will be told, you can’t complain – because you’re Islamophobic. The term is already being introduced into the culture, as if it’s an accusation of race hatred for example or bigotry, whereas it’s only the objection to the preachings of a very extreme and absolutist religion.
Christopher Hitchens[28]

Islamophobia is a controversial term for a number of reasons. Despite the implication of the term, those accused of Islamophobia are not actually afraid of Islam, but instead are highly critical of it. Despite the fact that it may not be an actual phobia, it is akin to the concept of homophobia.

Kenan Malik, a UK writer, has criticized the concept of Islamophobia, calling it a myth. He argues that the charge of Islamophobia is leveled against those who criticize Islam or Muslims in any way (even when those criticisms may be legitimate) to serve as a "chilling effect".

Many well known atheists, including Sam Harris[29] and Bill Maher[30] have endorsed Andrew Cummins' description of Islamophobia as “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”[31]

Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier[wp], one of the cartoonists murdered by jihadists in the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, attacked the concept of Islamophobia in a posthumously published article. According to Charb, most right-wing islamophobes are actually just racists. By calling their racism Islamophobia these people get an intellectual veneer they don't deserve. "If one day all Muslims in France converted to Catholicism ... these foreigners or French of foreign origin would still be seen as responsible for all ills."[32]

Stephen Schwartz, an American writer and critic of Wahhabism, has stated that although the charge of Islamophobia is sometimes leveled too quickly against an opponent, that it is still a real phenomenon,[33] which he defines as:

  1. Attacking the entire religion of Islam as a problem for the world;
  2. Condemning all of Islam and its history as extremist;
  3. Denying the active existence, in the contemporary world, of a moderate Muslim majority;
  4. Insisting that Muslims accede to the demands of non-Muslims (based on ignorance and arrogance) for various theological changes, in their religion;
  5. Treating all conflicts involving Muslims (including, for example, that in Bosnia-Herzegovina two decades ago), as the fault of Muslims themselves;
  6. Inciting war against Islam as a whole.

At a 2009 symposium on "Islamophobia and Religious Discrimination", Robin Richardson, a former director of the Runnymede Trust and the editor of Islamophobia: a challenge for us all, said that "the disadvantages of the term Islamophobia are significant". Nonetheless, he argued that the term is here to stay, and that it is important to define it precisely, instead of completely abandoning it.[34]

Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog chimes in with a similar perspective on the importance of definition for the term to function:[35]

"Islamophobia" has been used wrongly against the critics of the faith. Even worse, it shuts down all conversation. If you're Sam Harris, and you've been accused of being islamophobic, saying "No, I'm not!" doesn't convince anyone. If you're the artist at Charlie Hebdo and you've been called islamophobic, saying that you're "only satirizing religion and bad ideas" won't get you anywere, either. That's why we need to stop using the "i" word. Not because it's wrong, per se, but because it has a different meaning to different people.

[edit] Islamophobia versus criticism of Islam

There's a difference between bad ideas, and the people who hold bad ideas. And we should all be allowed to rip apart bad ideas - it doesn't mean we're attacking the person having them. People conflate "criticism of Islam" with "bigotry against muslims". Islam deserves to be criticized. Just like Christianity does, just like Scientology does. Religion and dogma are full of bad ideas. That doesn't mean I want muslims treated badly, I mean - I oppose discrimination against muslims!
Hemant Mehta, The Atheist Voice[36]

In a radio discussion on public radio between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris, Harris suggested that Islam is "different" from many other religions at this moment in its history because of its doctrines and the results of them, but Reza Aslan accuses Harris of being a bigot for treating Islam as a special case.[37] Writers and public figures such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, who are very critical of specific violent passages in all religions because of those who take them literally, are often accused of bigotry and Islamophobia when they criticize the text of Islam.

Harris writes that,

Needless to say, there are people who hate Arabs, Somalis, and other immigrants from predominantly Muslim societies for racist reasons. But if you can’t distinguish that sort of blind bigotry from a hatred and concern for dangerous, divisive, and irrational ideas—like a belief in martyrdom, or a notion of male “honor” that entails the virtual enslavement of women and girls—you are doing real harm to our public conversation. Everything I have ever said about Islam refers to the content and consequences of its doctrine. And, again, I have always emphasized that its primary victims are innocent Muslims—especially women and girls. There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia. And it is doing its job, because people like you have been taken in by it.
Sam Harris, in a letter to Glenn Greenwald[38]

Harris has called for the profiling of Muslims and "anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim" in security contexts,[39] and he is perhaps not the best person to be accusing others of articulating "dangerous" and "divisive" beliefs.

In any case, while there are legitimate cases of bigotry towards Muslims,[note 4] the term "Islamophobia" can be used to disparage valid criticisms of Islam and the culture that arises because of following Islam and Sharia law to its literal phrasing. Stephen Fry has seen it applied against him too reflexively on Twitter.[40] CAIR activist, Imraan Siddiqi, has founded a site -- Hatehurts[41] -- dedicated to "tracking Islamophobia and the communities affected by it."

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Malcolm X abandoned anti-white racism after experiencing the ethnic diversity of the Hajj.
  2. To be fair, God didn't order Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter and he himself didn't had his daughter in mind when he made this vow
  3. Note also that any vegetarian non-alcoholic product is halal by definition, as all halal rules apply only to meat and alcohol.
  4. Such as the ethnic profiling conducted by the NYPD, or the spiking of hate crimes against Muslim Americans in the wake of 9/11

[edit] References

  1. Runnymede Trust - Publications - Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (Wayback Machine copy)
  2. Official digital copy of the publication without the cartoons
  3. BBC NEWS | UK | 'Rise' in Muslim discrimination
  4. Big Jump in Hate Crimes Against Muslims Documented - NAM (Wayback Machine copy)
  5. Father and son turned away from "Muslim-free" Hot Springs gun range for being brown - Arkansas Times
  6. "Why are Sikhs targeted by anti-Muslim extremists?," Emine Saner, The Guardian, 8 August 2012
  7. Message to Richard Dawkins: 'Islam is not a race' is a cop out | Nesrine Malik | Comment is free | The Guardian
  8. www.islamophobiaeurope.com/reports/2015/en/EIR_2015.pdf
  9. http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/europes-first-report-islamophobia-shows-dangerous-climate-muslims-live
  10. [1]
  11. [2]
  12. BBC NEWS | Americas | US 9/11 revenge killer convicted
  13. "In U.S., fear and distrust of Muslims runs deep", Bernd Debusmann. Reuters, Feb 25, 2007
  14. Erik Rush: Kill All Muslims in Response to Boston Marathon Attack, Right Wing Watch
  15. Texas official shared Facebook post calling for nuking Muslims - Eliza Collins - POLITICO
  16. New U.N. report says world’s refugee crisis is worse than anyone expected - Washington Post
  17. Europe’s fear of Muslim refugees echoes rhetoric of 1930s anti-Semitism
  18. Travis County GOP tweet: "Islam is a Satanic Cult of Murder Not a 'Religion'"
  19. FBI opens up hate crimes investigation in case of Indiana University student who attacked Muslim woman
  20. Minnesota woman smashes Muslim in face with beer mug for speaking Swahili at Applebee’s
  21. House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees
  22. [http://www.vox.com/2015/11/16/9746456/map-syrian-refugees-governors
  23. Eric Lichtblau (December 17, 2015) "Crimes Against Muslim Americans and Mosques Rise Sharply"
  24. http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-meriden-mosque-shooting-arrest-1219-20151218-story.html
  25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-C71fxC5I
  26. http://janmorganmedia.com/2014/05/proof-islam-evil-violent-intolerant-straight-koran/#kgh5ZQoBp75JkD7M.99
  27. http://www.barenakedislam.com/2016/04/13/never-make-friends-with-a-muslim-either/
  28. http://lybio.net/christopher-hitchens-resisting-islam/people/
  29. Lifting the Veil of “Islamophobia” : A Conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali : Sam Harris
  30. Maher: "Islamophobic Is A Word Created By Fascists, And Used By Cowards, To Manipulate Morons" | Video | RealClearPolitics
  31. Vodkaninja on Twitter: "Islamophobia. A word created by fascists, & used by cowards, to manipulate morons. @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg http://t.co/zMuyPvC9lX"
  32. In Posthumous Riposte, Editor Of 'Charlie Hebdo' Targets 'Islamophobia' : The Two-Way : NPR
  33. FrontPage Magazine - The "Islamophobes" That Aren't
  34. [3]
  35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8-yNNGgK00M#t=150
  36. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8-yNNGgK00M#t=105
  37. Would Park51, the "ground zero mosque" be a symbol of religious tolerance, and should that be an American goal?
  38. Dear Fellow Liberal - An Exchange with Glenn Greenwald
  39. In Defense of Profiling : Sam Harris
  40. Stephen Fry — Am I an Islamophobe?
  41. http://hatehurts.net/
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