Islamophobia in the West

Islamophobia in the West

Islamophobia can be said to refer to the way Islam is being alienated in society by other cultures through fear and distrust against people belonging to the Islamic faith. Muslims are often portrayed in an increasingly negative context as witnessed in media, legislation and public debates.

By Idriss Jazairy

June 1, 2019

Islam is often presented as an ‘isolated culture’ with its own distinct features, which are allegedly incompatible with certain values upheld in Western societies.

It is the rise of such a polarizing context that results in growing fear against Muslims, prejudice of other cultures and the ‘us versus them’ paradigm.

Originally published

Although Arabs are a Semitic people like the Jews themselves, the media know that anti-Semitism is banned for the latter but tolerated for the former in the name of freedom of expression.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US by individuals – who were alien to the West and pretended to be guided by the teachings of Islam – some media unleashed smear campaigns against Muslims. They were depicted as terrorists and extremists supporting a violent and politically motivated Islam.

When this assertion entered the public domain, it led to people in advanced societies ostracizing Muslims in the political, social and cultural spheres of their societies. Some Western media claim that Muslims do not respond or adapt to change easily as they supposedly tend to adhere and to preserve their own culture and religious values and dogmas. It is this trait of being backward-looking that accredited Islamophobia as the new and fashionable nemesis. Thus did the concept of Islamophobia dawn with the present Millennium.

The wrongful depiction of Islam is used as fuel by xenophobic and extreme right groups as well as lay and populist parties to equate Islam with terrorism. Public statements warn people in different countries to stay away from people who might appear as ‘typical Muslims’.

Furthermore, individuals with ‘most wanted’ tags in the West bear Islamic or Arabic names. Muslims are thus often scapegoated as the first suspects to have carried out terrorist and violent attacks targeting Western societies. Some news anchors and politicians also instill fear of “the Other”.

It is through the development of fear factors in Western communities that Islamophobia develops and thrives.

Furthermore, policies or legislation that indirectly affect Muslims, and restrict their freedom of religion, such as bans on wearing visible religious and cultural symbols and laws against headscarves likewise contribute to the rise of Islamophobia.

This legislation creates fear and division among different layers of society. Owing to ignorance and disinformation, people are taught that the Islamic culture has its own distinct style of dressing – such as the use of the hijab – which allegedly puts women in a subjugated and subdued role vis-à-vis their male counterparts.

Muslim feminists denounce these allegations as endeavours to take their bodies hostage to political wrangling. Labelling Muslim women who wear the headscarf as submissive, and enacting laws seeking to ban it from public space, is merely a sign of ignorance and of discrimination.

How can one address the rise of Islamophobia?

It is empathy and not ethnicity that creates a community and lays the foundation for durable peaceful and inclusive societies. In the aftermath of the 15 March 2019 terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, the remarkable handing of the aftermath of the attacks by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood out as a shining example of a country expressing empathy welcoming diversity in unity.

It offered a template for the world illustrating that the celebration of cultural diversity remains the greatest strength of human fraternity. In times of crisis, it is through enlightened leadership as expressed by New Zealand’s Prime Minister that the darkness of ignorance and hatred can be dispelled.

Responsibility therefore lies with politicians. Global decision-makers must find appropriate ways to promote an open and inclusive dialogue between peoples and nations united in their moral obligations to stand up to injustice.

State policies must aim at creating societies where diversity is respected and where the source of respect stems from values based on basic human rights as reaffirmed in UN General Assembly Resolution 16/18 entitled Combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.

The promotion of the value of inter-culturalism in societies could be achieved by reconciling diversity with unity. It is important to initiate a global dialogue on how to engage with the rising trend of vilification of one religion and of its followers – yesterday the Jews, today the Muslims – to deter racist and xenophobic acts.

In this regard, emphasis must be put on education and the creation of institutions that teach future generations the culture of peace and dialogue. Educators have the power to introduce instant attitudinal change in the upcoming generations: I therefore call upon all educators to provide the correct message on Islam and defuse the wick of Islamophobia.

Through education, dialogue between and within societies, civilizations and cultures can be increasingly understood, enabling societies to break down the walls of ignorance and prejudice. Only then will it be possible to achieve durably the objective of ensuring equal citizenship rights for all.

As advocated during the 25 June 2018 Geneva Centre initiated World Conference on religions and equal citizenship rights, the promotion of equal citizenship rights could become the silver-bullet to eliminate the fear of the Other and to prevent or foil the manipulation of potential ethnic and religious diversity to stoke conflict within multicultural societies and across diverse nations.

Inclusive national citizenship extended to global citizenship enables diversity to become a force for social progress and world peace. The essence of this approach echoes the vision of the renowned French physicist and chemist Marie Curie who once said:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.

Read more about and of the author here on his homepage.

Originally published

Photo Credit Wall Street International

One Response to "Islamophobia in the West"

  1. Alfred vierling   June 3, 2019 at 8:43 am

    empathy instead of ethnicity right! But emlathy is mutual or not. Mohammedan hadith sharia rules are hostile to any non-muslim or worse to ex-muslim. Being European free from religious dictates I feel flabbergasted by increasing mohammedan rule in my continent. Yes I agree judeo-semitic rules for example about the cruel for inadaequate throat cut as slaughtering method for animals with dorsal artery are equally obnoxious to europeo-humanitarian standards. I dont agree in that islam is only inacceptable as being identified – and acc to Koran texts rightly so- with terrorism. Yes western atttacks on the Dar el Islam are sufficiënt justification for this weapon in an assymetrical war. But dont skip over the civisational clah which has estranged Europe from Ottoman as well as Salafist suni rule over centuries. Islam is also not compatible with the Chinese and Hindu civilisations, which it was unable to subdue. I am not so sure whether madochistic christian liberal demoCRAZIES can withstand it. The USSR could, orthodoxy tries but the EU singing the Timmermans’ s song if diversity preaches the Untergang des Abendlandes. And social democrat Oberg is totally blind for historical example of disastrous socialist-islamic cooperation: , the socialists in Indonesia and Iran were the first to be decapitated by their muslim allies. Nasser, Houssain Baath, Kaddafi and many more trying to embed mohamnedans in socialist ideas but failed, islam being easily manipulated by the USA. This time to subdue Europe even more into a ethnic religious racist civil war ? Please leave Lund and go and live in Nanterre;Brixton, Neuköln or dare stay in Malmö for some weeks. I feel intensily offended by this headsharp and burkas as if I as a man be a wild animal ready to furnicate. Many Europeans cannot handle this and nany more hostile mohannedan asocial behavior towards them and you to blame them lack of empathy! Can Oberg handle this criticim or is he going to block me as he already has announced for my ‘obsession with islam’ ?


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