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Bronze-level articleIslamophobia

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Exposing the fear and loathing of Muslims


Topics of interest

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.

Given that it generally involves embracing a bigoted viewpoint of a particular people, Islamophobia is akin and almost universally adjacent to racism. This is particularily true in that the practice of Islam is common among specific ethnicities; the fact that Sikhs are often targeted as Muslims because they resemble common ideas of what Muslims "look like" speaks to the racist dynamics at play. [1]

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, and even more so to describe the backlash against Muslims following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.[2][3]


[edit] Characteristics of Islamophobia

The Runnymede Trust defines Islamophobia as having the following characteristics:

  1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
  2. Islam 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. Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
  4. Islam is 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 hostility is seen as natural and normal.

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.

[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 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 claims.

[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.

[edit] Examples of Islamophobia

In a May 2001 interview, far-right British politician Nick Griffin stated "Muslims are the biggest problem at present, for several reasons, because they have the highest birth rate, which means their communities need living space - that's what the ethnic cleansing is about. They have political corruption in their own countries, and when they have a chance to get council places they are there for graft. Most important of all is that Islam is an aggressive religion."[4]

In a September 2001 column, following 9/11, Ann Coulter (known member of the American Taliban) espoused the view that "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."[5]

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.[6]

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).

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."[7] 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.

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?)

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.[8]

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.

[edit] Criticism of the concept of Islamophobia

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."

Rowan Atkinson, a British comic-actor has likewise stated that although criticizing another person based on their race is ridiculous and irrational, criticizing another's religion, which is a voluntary belief, is a right. He further stated that laws should not be created which protect certain types of ideas from criticism and not others.

Many well known atheists, including Sam Harris[9] and Bill Maher[10], have endorsed Andrew Cummins' description of Islamophobia as “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”[11]

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,[12] 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 a decade ago), as the fault of Muslims themselves;
  6. Inciting war against Islam as a whole.

[edit] Islamophobia versus criticism of Islam

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.[13] 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[14]

Harris has gone on to call for the profiling of Muslims and "anybody who looks like they could conceivably be Muslim" in security contexts.[15]

In any case, the term "Islamophobia" has often been used to disparage valid criticisms of Islam and the culture that arises because of following Islam and Sharia law. Some critics of Islam are concerned that the term "Islamophobia" may be used to silence any and all criticism of Islamic ideology.[16]

Pakistani-Canadian writer Ali A. Rizvi said of the preoccupation with Islamophobia:

Many liberals and moderates -- as well-intentioned as they may be -- end up providing cover for fundamentalists and terrorists without even realizing it...Foreigners -- especially Muslims -- know the trick to shielding their ideas from criticism by Westerners: simply call them racist, bigoted, or Islamophobic. Now, nobody's saying anti-Muslim bigotry doesn't exist -- but just like in Pakistan where they use blasphemy laws to shut you up, here they accuse you of bigotry, racism, and Islamophobia to achieve the same purpose -- never mind the fact that Islam isn't a race, and attacking ideas is not bigotry.
—Ali A. Rizvi, in conversation with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar[17]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

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