Example #1 – What Do We Know About Islamophobia
Inherent in the United States’ dealings with Muslim-majority countries is the diplomatic relationship with those countries, and how the Middle East and Muslims are portrayed to the average citizen at home. For most non-Muslim westerners, how they viewed the Middle East would be largely dependent on how Islam is portrayed in the media and through other avenues such as educational institutions and online. For Muslims living in the United States, the portrayal of Muslims after various terrorist attacks perpetrated by extremist Islamic groups would shape their lives in a much more sinister way, determining their level of comfort and acceptance within society.
I want to look into what could be called the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. How has Islamophobia in the United States been defined and how did the attacks on September 11th, 2001, impact the political discourse and portrayal of Islam in the U.S.? How have Middle Eastern people living in the United States been affected not only by the attacks on September the 11th and resulting in increased hostility but before the attacks as well?
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In this paper, I argue that the term Islamophobia is a misnomer that fails to capture the racialized attitudes in American society about Middle Eastern people in general, no matter their religion. I also attempt to give a glimpse into the formation of this view of the Middle East in American society and show how the 9/11 attacks changed media and political narratives about Islam in some positive and negative ways. Finally, I talk about the effects these events have had on Middle Eastern people living in the United States.
WHAT IS ISLAMOPHOBIA? Before we can talk about the rise of Islamophobia in the United States, it is first helpful to distinguish the meaning of the term and very serious problems with the term itself. UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender maintains that (Defining “Islamophobia” n.d.): Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure.
It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social, and cultural relations while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.
It has much to do and is heavily related to the concept of xenophobia which is essentially the irrational hatred of foreigners. Islamophobia is characterized by strongly-held beliefs that Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities, does not share common values with other major faiths, a religion that is inferior to the West. People also believe that it is “archaic, barbaric, and irrational”, that it is a religion of violence and supports terrorism, and that it is a violent political ideology (Defining “Islamophobia” n.d.).
Erik Love takes issue with the concept of Islamophobia not because he disagrees that it is occurring, but because it conflates the fact that what the problem really boils down to race. Love points out that hostility towards people is not necessarily based on a person’s Islamic faith but rather on phenotypical—racialized—characteristics emblematic of people from the Middle East and North Africa (Love 2009). He points out the case of Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot and killed on September 16, 2001, by a man who, as he was arrested, shouted “I stand with America all the way.”
Sodhi was a Sikh, but had a “Muslim-like” appearance, leading to his death. Therefore, Love maintains that Islamophobia affects “Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs from all backgrounds and, in particular, people who have ancestry in North Africa as well as in western and southern Asia. Islamophobia, in short, affects a racialized group of people—Middle Eastern Americans—that, like any racialized group, is in fact comprised of an irreducibly diverse collection of individuals who identify with many different ethnicities, nationalities and religions.”
HISTORY OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IN THE UNITED STATES. Islamophobia, incorporating Love’s addition of racism rather than purely religious intolerance, is not a new phenomenon that occurred after 9/11, and which itself piggybacked off of an earlier strain of xenophobic thought: Orientalism (Love 2009). In the 1700s, Europe used academic and imperial projects to portray the Orient—the Far East—as exotic and barbarous. To Europeans, it existed in complete opposition to Christian Europe. Europe’s portrayal of this region of the world was dehumanizing and depicted the people living there (and any non-Christian religion) as backward, irrational, and in need of saving.
The phenomenon spread to the United States, turning the country against people from the Middle East (a contemporary term for the Orient), who then became “orientalized” and portrayed as exotic and backward. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, portrayals of Middle Easterners were mainly negative, but a more disturbing trend took place. The label “exotic” increasingly was replaced with “dangerous” during the twentieth century (Love 2009).
Melanie McAlister traced cultural representations of the “dangerous Middle East” from 1945, and noticed a tipping point after 1967 when Israel had its Six-Day War with its neighboring Arab nations. This altercation between the West’s ally, Israel, and Arab nations essentially solidified perceptions in American popular culture that the Middle East was fanatical and dangerous to our interests. It also led to three decades of declining racialized discourses involving the Middle East, and not exactly starting at a high point either.
The 1970s oil crisis contributed to the meme of the dangerous Middle East, supplementing it with images of untrustworthy “oil sheiks” who were depicted in editorial cartoons and films during this period (Love 2009). The FBI even pulled off sting operations with agents posing as oil sheiks to catch corrupt Congressmembers. The capture of the American embassy in Tehran, Iran, was another turning point for the portrayal of Middle Easterners in American culture.
The prevailing meme of oil sheiks was not starting to be replaced with portrayals of people from the region as terrorists, as evidenced by several big-budget Hollywood films produced about the embassy crisis (Love 2009). Since that point, Middle Eastern Americans have been predominantly seen as terrorists or at least portrayed that way in media, so much so, that when the bombing of the Murrah building took place in Oklahoma City in 1995, many so-called analysts immediately blamed the attack on Arabs even though it was later found to have been perpetrated by a white American.
MEDIA FRAMING OF ISLAM AFTER 9/11 AND CHANGE IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE. After 9/11 this framing of Islam and Middle Eastern Americans became more subtle in American mass media, but more overt in other areas, such as in the political arena and punditry of the nation’s print and cable news (Love 2009). Because of the racialized fear of the Middle East already ingrained in our society, the stage had been set for an explosion of hostility.
To that end, it would be helpful to see how Islam was framed after 9/11. “The process of framing involves the construction of meaning through structured discourse. Analyzing this discourse helps media scholars understand how messages are packaged and disseminated,” notes Dina Ibrahim, who compiled qualitative research on media framing of Islam after 9/11 (Ibrahim 2010). Ibrahim notes that studying framing takes us away from the loaded term bias and takes into account the fact that “objectivity and absolute truth within journalism cannot exist in their purest forms, given the inherent structural limitations of news.”
Ibrahim notes that in the network news there was a major distinction between internal Islam—Islam practiced by Muslims in the United States—versus external Islam—Islam practiced by foreigners (Ibrahim 2010). Internal Islam was portrayed as peaceful, with a much-repeated call for calm and mourning from President Bush, showing solidarity with Muslims in the United States. Network news took pains to show many clips of Muslims waving American flags, showing that they too were affected by the 9/11 attacks. In addition, there was universal condemnation of the increased number of hate crimes taking place towards Middle Eastern Americans across the country directly following 9/11.
Somewhat ironically, at the same time, Islam was being lauded as a religion of peace at home in America, that very same religion was portrayed as violent and “Jihadist” when practiced outside of the United States (Ibrahim 2010). Network news juxtaposed our peaceful internal Islam with clips of angry Muslims carrying guns, and instead of waiving the American flag, they were often burning it. Ibrahim contends that the Bush Administration provided the frame for Islam as a peaceful religion—because it would need Muslim support at home for its wars abroad.
This external Islam was not portrayed in a thematic way, but in a more episodic way, as we were “on the hunt” for Muslim radicals. However, the media failed to be nuanced about this portrayal and usually did not distinguish between confusing terms and often got crucial definitions completely wrong. A good example of this is the commonly repeated assertion that Jihad translates to Holy War, and its use by Osama Bin Laden, America’s most wanted man until he was assassinated by a team of Navy SEALs. Jihad does not mean holy war, it just describes a struggle to overcome evil (not unlike President Bush’s War on Terror) (Ibrahim 2010).
This concept had been abused by Bin Laden and his followers. The more conventional struggle to overcome evil is a religious tenet adhered to by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. The problem arises when Bin Laden is interviewed and constantly claims that jihad means holy war and that holy war means killing Americans. He claims that this is the core faith of Islam. If the news media had actually juxtaposed this with an alternative viewpoint of other interpretations of jihad, this would have helped. But now it is accepted in the media that this is what jihad means, even though this meaning is very far from the truth.
Surprisingly, popular culture depictions of negative stereotypes regarding the Middle East all but disappeared following 9/11. This was in large part due to the benefits of multiculturalism brought on by the Civil Rights movements, advocacy work done by Islamic and Middle Eastern groups, and in large part by a wholesale rejection of the violent hate crimes taking place in the country (Love 2009). This would appear to be too good to be true, as it appears that the stereotypes vanished from TV and movies only to reappear in the political discourse of the country.
President Bush and other right-wing politicians warned of “Islamo-fascism,” “Islamists,” and “sleeper cells.” However, there was no unique or monolithic threat in the Middle East despite fearmongering from various politicians. Peter Mandaville furthers this argument, describing how in America there was a racialization of Muslims in the United States based on a friend/enemy distinction (Mandaville 2013). People view Muslims as the target of the Patriot Act, and increased surveillance of various Muslim community institutions have occurred since 9/11, stirring up more fears in an already afraid public after 9/11.
He goes on to note the absurd debates taking place today in our country—creeping shariah-ization, the Ground Zero mosque, preachers threatening to burn the Qur’an. Politicians’ use of fear against Muslims is reminiscent of fears of Japanese-Americans and their subsequent internment during World War II. Mandaville describes what he calls the “double securitization” of Muslims in our political discourse today. He described it as the view of Islam of a foreign threat but also an internal threat of agents being led by an external power, much like the fear of Catholic immigrants during the nineteenth century.
POLITICAL EFFECT ON MIDDLE EASTERN AMERICANS. Middle Eastern Americans are legally categorized as white under the law but do not then reap the rewards of white privilege as other Euro-Americans do. Tehranian notes that “[t]his dualistic and contested ontology of the Middle Eastern racial condition creates an unusual paradox. Reified as the other, Americans of Middle Eastern descent do not enjoy the benefits of white privilege.
Yet, as white under the law, they are denied the fruits of remedial action” (Tehranian 2008). Love notes that, again, this boils down to racism, with discrimination not based on religion but physical characteristics (Love 2009): Race clearly plays a role when Sikh American and African American Muslim children are harassed in similar ways in classrooms when Syrian Americans along with Pakistani Americans have to present themselves to immigration authorities for ‘special registration’ when Lebanese American and Iranian American workers lose their jobs for the same discriminatory reasons, and when Chaldean churches and Sunni mosques alike are vandalized and receive the same kinds of hate mail.
This essentially means that Middle Eastern Americans have no legal recourse, no affirmative action program that benefits them. Being classified into the group that makes up the top racial category in the United States, while at the same time being viewed by others in that category as morally inferior is not a good situation to be put in.
Example #2 – Is Islamophobia a Form of Racism?
Is Islamophobia a Form of Racism: Islamophobia is a newly coined term that is used to describe the growing fear of Muslims or specific groups that are considered to be associated with Islam? As a new term, the validity of Islamophobia is still a subject of huge debate even as its causes and characteristics are also controversial.
This term was coined to refer to the events in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in light of people’s attitudes towards Muslims and those associated with Islam. Actually, after the dust settled following the attacks, a new gesture of nationalism was witnessed across the United States and racism soon followed, which are usually faces to the same coin (Rose, 2013).
The United States foreign policy on the war on terrorism overseas has partly been influenced by suspicion of Muslim communities and countries as terror suspects. This suspicion has also been demonstrated in the suspicion, repression, and exclusion of Muslim communities within the country. The treatment of Muslims and people associated with Islam as suspect citizens is evident in the increased profiling of these people throughout the country.
According to Esposito & Kalin (2011), the processes of demonization and exclusion of Muslims and Islamic countries and regions started before the 9/11 terror attacks and have persisted through Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism (p.112). There are countless examples of how Muslims and people/groups associated with Islam have been subjected to violence based on this anti-Muslim bigotry, which implies that Islamophobia is a form of racism.
Since the 9/11 terror attacks, several people have been assaulted or murdered simply for being Muslims, wearing turbans, or looking like Muslims (Ismail, 2011). The other violent incidents against these people include mosques being torched, burning of the Quran, accusations of Muslims as terrorists, and forcing Muslims off planes without any justification.
Example #3 – Can Islamophobia Be Considered as Religious Discrimination?
In the last decades, Europe and North America have had controversial relationships with Islam and Muslims. The rise of migration rates, the issues of assimilation of Muslims into the secular and liberal communities of the West, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks have all intensified the existing tensions between the Christian and Islamic cultures, leading to the emergence of Islamophobia, largely irrational fear and discrimination of the Western societies toward the Muslim minorities.
Although it is not new for different religious groups living within a single society to have ideological and normative tensions, the current phenomenon of Islamophobia could be considered a process of religious discrimination toward Islam and contradicts the basic norms and values that are promoted by the Western liberal democracies.
Islamophobia: origins and description. Although the term “Islamophobia” has emerged only in the late 1990s, the name could be considered “a new word for an old concept” (Bleich 1582). While the negative stereotypes toward Muslim culture, religion, and Arab ethnicity have been present in Western society for a long time, it is only in recent decades that these attitudes have become an institutionalized discriminative phenomenon. With the opening of European borders, migration from the Arab countries to the West and the September 2001 terrorist attack, Western societies have gained fixed intolerance and fear toward Islam.
The term “Islamophobia” has been given various definitions, some of which included Islam culture, others referring to religion, or even direct irrational hatred and fear toward Muslim people. Despite such differences in interpretation, some common characteristics can express discriminative Islamophobic attitudes. Islamophobia includes perceiving Islam as the inferior culture compared to the Western, as a violent, aggressive, radical, and totalitarian worldview that cannot be assimilated to the Western secular culture and coexist peacefully and comfortably with one another (Taras 418).
Erik Bleich defined Islamophobia as “indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims” (Bleich 1585). Interestingly, the part “phobia” refers to the fact that most of these attitudes are rather irrational, with people viewing every Muslim as a potential terrorist or Islamic fundamentalist, carrying a threat to the comfortable existence of Western values, lifestyles, and liberal ideology. In fact, these fears are highly exaggerated, as an insignificantly small percentage of violent crimes in the US is committed by Muslims, with the great majority of violence being produced by the carriers of Western values (Gallup, Inc.).
Still, partly because of the large trauma of the 9/11 attacks and mostly unintentional emphasis on governance system and media coverage of Muslim-related crimes and conflicts, Western societies express the rise in Islamophobic attitudes for the last decade. Such an issue leads to a further question of whether Islamophobia can be considered as religious discrimination or as a justiciable reaction of a liberal society to the cultural and religious threat from the stranger Islamic worldview.
The issue of conceptualizing Islamophobia as solely a process of religious discrimination lies mainly in the unique evolution of the relationships between Muslim minorities in Western countries. While originally the term religious discrimination referred to limitations and discrimination of a specific religious group in its right to peacefully practicing beliefs and doctrines and fulfilling its religious life, modern Islamophobia is a more complex phenomenon.
On the one hand, most of the Muslim communities in the West feel free to perform their religious rituals, establish their churches, and visit them. Thus, there is no direct deprivation of Islam as a religious system toward Muslims. On the other hand, many of the Islamic traditions and cultural norms have a controversial position in the ideological discourse of secular Western democracies. Despite the fact that Western communities are less religious, the impact of Christian domination could be seen in political, judicial, and cultural realms, making it hard for Muslim minorities to find common ground with the West (Weller 304).
At the same time, Western cultures also turned out to be poorly fit for the presence of monolithic Islam minorities, which, unlike many other ethnic and religious minorities, try to keep their religious and cultural identities and refuse to assimilate fully with the Western majority. Such tendencies have led to the emergence of direct legislation which limited the freedoms of religious expression. These include laws in France, which banned burqas – traditional Muslim headwear for women – from the public spaces (Weaver).
The idea that elements of traditional clothing can carry extremism of dangerous fundamentalism has no logic and rational explanation. The only arguments from the supporters of this ban are based on the idea that burqas discriminate against women in their freedom of choosing what to do with their bodies. However, a more constructive explanation might lie in the irrational fear and rejection of the Muslim culture, which is expressed through such confusing and controversial legislation.
It seems that the irrationality of fear and aggressive attitudes that are expressed through the burqa ban is a simple, yet very illustrative example of why Islamophobia should be considered as religious discrimination. Although this modern type of discrimination does not include a direct limitation of Muslim religious rights, meaning that Muslims are not banned from going to mosques or worshiping Allah, it is concentrated on cultural and ideological elements that Islam carries and limits them, justifying this discrimination with liberal values.
Although modern European and American societies tend to be more secular than the Muslim states, the Western liberal ideology was built upon Christian traditions and used social, political, and cultural institutions that were tightly connected to the Christian way of life. Thus, the deprivation of religious freedom means that Western societies favor more comfortable, understood, and institutionalized Christian religious practices and doctrine over Muslim minorities’ cultural norms.
The bias in the media that covers Muslim activity only reinforces the idea that Muslim minorities are “others” or “aliens” toward Western societies, even if the majority of the Muslims are legal migrants who live peacefully and according to the law (Saeed 1). The above structural discriminative actions lead to the assumption that Islamophobia is not only a phenomenon of religious discrimination, it also has racist features.
However, there is also a contrasting view that envisions Muslim culture as unfit to coexist with Western values. From that perspective, Muslim migrants to the West are cultural intruders who refuse to accept the Western set of values and fail to exist within the democratic and liberal world. Thus, to keep Western society within the liberal direction of development, political and judicial instruments are used to limit the influence of Muslim minorities in their public lives.
Therefore, the Islamic minorities have a choice of whether to accept the Western lifestyle and values or to come back to the states where Islam is the normative and moral fundamental of the social and political structure. Despite the fairness of these arguments, it seems that they contradict the basic principles of modern democratic states. The idea that there is only one way for an ethnic and religious minority to live within the liberal society – that is, assimilation of this group with the values and lifestyle of the majority – contradicts the core principles of freedom of religious identity and individual expression.
The West actively promotes ideas of individual freedom, freedom for religious, cultural, and ethnic identity, yet it seems that when it comes to Muslims, the West becomes lost. Of course, there are issues in the process of the coexistence of distinct and different religious groups. However, it seems that the best way for a democracy to meet such responsibility with tolerance, constant dialogue, and equal discussion, not falling into the trap of discrimination and banning of traditional clothing.
Conclusion. Although being a new term, Islamophobia is quite an old phenomenon that describes irrational fear and hatred toward Islam and Muslims. As the recent decades saw the growth of migrants from the Islamic states into Europe and North America, a cultural clash between the strong cultural and religious identity of Muslims and the secular and liberal values of the West has led to the phenomenon of Islamophobia, which has, unfortunately, become an answer to the question of coexistence between the two groups. Islamophobia is expressed through a variety of intolerant activities and could be considered a process of religious discrimination, as it includes discriminative actions on free social and formal governmental, legislative, and journalistic media levels of discourse.
Example #4 – Islamophobia and Its Effects
Islamophobia has directly affected young Muslims; the negative perceptions that are associated with Islam may lead to self-exclusion and exclusion, with noticeable effects on self-esteem and social practices. A lot of efforts were made to control the effects that were triggered by the impact of Islamophobia.
Experts define Islamophobia as fear against, or prejudice or hate towards Islam or Muslims. There has been an increase in the perceived trend of Islamophobia in the 2000s, that been linked to the 9/11 attacks in the USA, while on the other hand, some relate it to the rapidly growing Muslim populations in the Western World, due to to both immigration and high fertility rate.
A lot of young people are negatively affected by Islamophobia. Young Muslims are directly and highly affected by it, the facts that lead to many acts of discrimination. It’s quite obvious that negative perceptions associated with Islam may lead to self-exclusion and exclusion, with noticeable effects on self-esteem and social practices.
The concerns of the Muslim world over the rise of Islamaphobia have become one of the major challenges of today’s world. This phenomenon is voiced very strongly in global and regional politics troubling the relationship between Islam and Western countries. Terrorism has assumed serious proportions and become a major cause of Muslim stereotyping in the modern world where the role of media is central. Media wars took a turn for the worst since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.
As a result, Muslims are subjected to different forms of discrimination inciting hatred and unrest in society. This has been blamed on manipulation and misrepresentation of actual facts by media particularly in North America, Britain, and Europe. Media portrayal of Muslims in an offensive and denigrating manner witnessed unsettling changes on both systems making Muslims victims of terror and violence. Media have been delegated the responsibility of shaping public opinion while covering reality at the same time, but in this case, continued attacks by a section of marginal groups by the West has fostered a culture of intolerance and misunderstanding.
Media shapes how we see the world, and choosing negative and frightening names for people in communicating the crisis problem greatly shapes an individual’s perception towards the group in question. Mirza (2009) argues that the global dominance of Western media is capable of influencing people against Islam and Muslims by using the 9/11 attacks to capitalize on its political campaign. Mirza (2009) adds that the media depict Muslim what Mirza (2009) terms as “fundamentalism”, “extremism” and “racialism” (p.1).
Media is the central information point that represents Muslims as collective victims of terrorisms and a security threat to the Western people hence the reason for their war justification in wars tone countries. While politicization of how media has stereotyped the entire Muslim group, little efforts have been made to respond to a new cadre of Islamaphobia. Too often, we (viewers and readers) are caught in between engaging in the revisionism debate of Islamic religion and the convincing media position of what would otherwise be classified as injustice.
Effects of Islam. Discrimination, Exclusion, and Self-esteem
Dekker and Jolander (2009) argue that “Islam is the most anti-racist and anti- prejudicial way of life” (p.1). Politicisation of Muslim followers as terrorists has brought a very sad reality of hate and violence. It has been argued that discrimination of such groups has become a major problem for the minority in Muslim communities living in foreign countries diminishing the powerful universality of their culture.
The development of hostile relationships has been on the rise resulting in increased discrimination and social isolation among Muslims. Muslim youths on the other hand have experienced great social exclusion increasing chances of school dropouts and low performances. The European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) also reported the high undesirable outcomes of discrimination and violence towards Muslims to be attributed to negative mass media reports.
Many of these reports were associated with exclusion, discrimination, and violence particularly in schools and in housing sectors. This unfounded hostility on Muslin followers led to a one-dimensional interpretation of Islam as ‘terrorists’ resulting in low school performances, high unemployment rate, low wages, verbal threats, and physical aggression (Dekker and Jolander, 2009, p.3).
EUMC Reports. European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reports on the nature of discrimination against Muslim and Islamophobic incidents recorded high rates of discrimination incidents particularly in areas of employment, education, and housing which it argues to be linked to Islamaphobic attitudes (Bohner, 2010, p.240).
Increased levels of Islamaphobia are represented in areas of poor housing and below-average grades, particularly in school-going youths. In the employment sector, EUMC (2004) argues that in Ireland State an increase of 7% in unemployment rates as opposed to the national average of 4 percent as a result of low-income levels. The same reports provided that European immigrants, more particularly Muslims are more likely to drop out of schools or even worse obtain lower qualifications as a result of discrimination.
Whereas religious education is involved, Imams without formal qualification with little understanding of the local social context invited to teach Muslim immigrants were likely to increase lack of understanding of Muslim religion. While on the housing aspect, Muslim followers suffered greater vulnerability and insecurity in their housing status as opposed to other groups.
List of incidents described as “Islamophobic”. The United Kingdom. Since the September 11th attacks on the U.S, extremist groups have targeted Muslim communities in the UK by vandalizing their places of worship and intimidating their religion. For example, the Kingston Mosque was attacked by throwing bottles of beer and bacon and urinating on mosques following a match against Muslim extremism (Commet, 2010, p.1).
The United States. A Muslim cab driver was brutally attacked by a New York resident after professing to the Muslim religion (Siegel, 2010, p.1). Canada. At the beginning of May, a group of unknown people attacked a mosque in the Canadian City of Hamilton causing severe damages to Muslim schools and buildings which were estimated to have cost 5,000 Canadian dollars (Trend, 2010, p.1).
Efforts against Islamophobia and Conclusion. EUMC has proposed policies and measures to adequately tackle discrimination and addresses social injustice in areas of discrimination, employment opportunities, and education standards that lead to social cohesion. Such strategies include; Implementation of legislation; EUMC proposes specific measures to promote equality. It argues that the formation of groups such as the Race Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive will ensure minority individuals vulnerable to discrimination are aware of their rights.
Recording and policing Islamic incidents. EUMC proposes for the recording of racism incidents and the encouragement of diversity police training programs. Implementation of social integration to ensure equal opportunities and encourage social cohesion should include Muslim representatives in policymaking.
Promotion of equal access to education and inclusion of Muslim religion in the current curriculum to ensure the history of minority groups are accurately represented (EUMC, 2004, p.4).
In practical efforts, the Luxembourg Ministry of Education incorporated a syllabus on “Instruction religieuse et morale” which focused on Inter-faith dialogues and explains human values of non-Christian religions. Secondly, the Inter-faith dialogue known as the ‘Islamic Forums’ in the same country aimed at reducing prejudices and fears towards the Muslim community will greatly reduce Islamaphobia incidents.
Discussions on racism and Islamophobia in schools should be greatly encouraged to reflect the diversity within communities. Encouraging Muslims to engage in European public life such as politics and social processes will greatly reduce Islamaphobic incidents. And lastly, the media should validate its information to ensure its accuracy before reporting to the general public.
Example #5 – A Problem of Islamophobia in Australia
Islamophobia is a frequently discussed term these days. The term was first used in La vie, de Mohammed, prophète d’Allah (Biography of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad) by Alphonse Etienne Dinet and Sliman ben Ibrahim in 1918 (in French). At first, it meant to have negative prejudice towards Islam/Muslims but at present, it has changed. Now, along with the previous definition, Muslims are also treated as a racial group.
If Islamophobia would be defined from its component words; Islam referring to the religion itself and phobia meaning irrational fear; it would mean irrational fear towards Islam/Muslims. However, the current demographic is contradictory as race means to divide people into groups based on their perceived biological characteristics. The current population of Muslims is 1.6 billion which are found in every continent—all with different appearances and different cultures based on the country they are living in. This paper will discuss Islamophobia in Australia.
Afghan Muslims had first migrated to Australia in 1860 as camel drivers to explore the dry areas and later settled in the region. Over the 1870s, Malay Muslims had been recruited for pearling. In the 19th century, two mosques were also built; one in 1861 in Marree and the other in 1888 called The Great Mosque of Adelaide. One of the first Muslim celebrations was recorded in 1884 when 70 Muslims gathered for Eid prayers. In the early 20th century, immigration of Muslims had decreased due to the White Australia Policy which meant only people of European descent (English speaking) were allowed to migrate.
This resulted in Albanian Muslims only to be allowed into the country. Albanian Muslims, incidentally, also built a mosque in Australia. However, due to the need for population and economic growth after World War II, steps had been taken to abolish White Policy Australia. In 1973, the Racial Discrimination Act was finally passed which stopped the racial categorization politically and so the immigration of Muslims from different areas had started; bringing in Muslims from all over the world. According to the 2011 census, 2.2% of the Australian population are Muslims, which were from Lebanon, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and etc.
Nonetheless, during all this time, Muslims had to face lots of violence in Australia. Yet, at the beginning the violence towards Afghans was not on the basis of religion it was more on economic grounds and the racism of white and black. As Afghans had brought camels which could survive the traveling for a longer time compared to horses and they worked for cheaper wages, this favored them in getting more opportunities. The locals already disliked the Afghans as they weren’t white, but the addition of being more economically strong triggered more hatred towards them.
This led to some attacks on the Afghans such as the three brothers who operated a bullock team in the Bourke-Wanaaring area attempting to repel the competing camel men by launching a physical attack. When this was brought in court, the District Court dismissed the case saying that it lacked evidence. Also, during the same time, there was another incident where an angry teamster shot the passing camel men, Said Dal.
Furthermore, at this time there were Asian populations that were way more compared to Afghans, which brought fear to the locals that they would lose their whiteness. This had later provoked them to create White Policy Australia, due to this policy only Albanian Muslims could come into the region. At this point, Muslims still being allowed into the country and make a mosque for themselves shows that they still did not have any prejudice towards Islam.
The hostilities towards Muslims had begun during the Gulf War, it started more as an anti-Arab sentiment. There were many ways through which they were targeted; one significant way was through media. The radio was using abusive comments such as “Arab and Muslims are “importing into Australia their fanatical, irrational beliefs and hatreds advised to go back and be there [with Saddam]’ and told ‘If you don’t like it, rack off’”.
Also, a letter was sent to the Committee of Arab-Australians requesting that they return to their countries and that the government would happily bear their expenses to send them back because they were not wanted. Moreover, there were open messages to Arab and Muslim communities to demonstrate their allegiance to the Australian nation, its laws and its values, and both to denounce, yet somehow accept blame for, the evils of Saddam Hussein. It had become a wide known fact that women wearing hijab or men wearing turbans were Muslims and these appearances belonged to Middle East countries so anyone appeared to be from the Middle East were assaulted.
From here the equation that Muslims equals Arabs was created. Therefore, many Muslim women were assaulted by strangers tearing their headscarves away in public spaces who were not Arab, rather had a Southeast Asian background. There is also an account where Sikh men were assaulted mistaken for being Muslim as they wore turbans. In 1991, there was evidence presented from HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) which showed that Arab-Australians were one of the most vilified groups in Australia.
In 2001 World Trade Center was attacked, this event further spiced up the situation for Muslims in Australia. Around that time Lebanese-background immigrants had sexually assaulted 70 girls who belonged to white background. Since it was a Middle Eastern country the link was directly made with the Muslims and all the blame was brought on Muslims. One of the party leaders, Pauline Hanson, said that “A lot of these people are Muslims, and they have no respect for the Christian way of life that this country’s based on”. This action taken by the Lebanese had triggered locals to assault Muslims and Arabs sexually eventually.
There were anonymous calls made to western Sydney Islamic school which had threatened to abduct and rape pupils. In 2001, there was a big flow of asylum seekers in Australia, they too faced a lot of opposition from the government which refrained from helping them. One such event was when Afghan refugees were refused to enter Australia. Over the decade there has been multiple time where Islamic communities have been built and have tried to attack the safety of the country; one such event was when a man known as “Ahmed Y” created a small group which advocated the idea of making Australia an Islamic State.
From 2011 onwards, due to the uprising of ISIS, they have been targeted locals for recruitments that have feared the Australian government. So they have now stopped several Jihadist from leaving the country. In 2014, there was a protest against the Australian food committees to stop certifying their products as halal; they claimed that the fees charged for certification is used in funding terrorist groups.
Overall, there’s a common view that Islamophobia started after the September 11 attacks but as a matter of fact, it has existed in Australian society for a long time. However, it has become more prominent since the Gulf War. During the 20th century, Muslims being immigrated into the country shows Australia’s increasing acceptance of the Muslim community.
Nevertheless, the event after the Gulf War such as Muslims being violated on streets, stopping them from entering their country, and protesting against them proves that it did boost its aggression towards it. Perhaps if the community would be given a better education about the diversity of the Muslim community it would stop all the discrimination against them. The academic system should advocate the locals that the Islamic community comes from all over the world, not just the Middle East.
Example #6 – Islamophobia in Britain
It is commonly agreed that humanity entered into a new age, which is considered to be the “age of terror”. Undoubtedly, the consequences of the terrorist massacre that took place on the 11th of September in 2001 were significantly extensive. A great number of new forms of determinative legislation has been imposed in order to avoid certain terrorist actions. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that a great amount of these particular measures collide and violate human rights. The matter is that democratic and liberal values are overwhelmingly threatened in the name of national security.
THE BRUTAL REALITY OF ISLAMOPHOBIA. After September 2001, Islamophobia has been increased and expressed in dissimilar ways. Not only British Muslims but Islam believers from all over the world had become a generalized target. Both adults and children were experiencing attacks in physical and verbal forms. In real terms, death threats against Muslims existed.
One of the most essential proof is that the ‘Race-Hate’ crime in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has been increased by 72 percent in September 2001, compared with September 2000. The English government condemned any forms of attacks against Muslims, yet it has to be notified that a great number of the mainstream media were perpetually accusing Muslims of being terrorists, whilst at the same time there were obviously being nourished structures of stereotypes that Muslims were the vital ‘fundamentalists’ of terrorist actions.
Also, it may be deduced that a form of pure discrimination is taking place inside the borders of the community. In order to describe the specific forms of discrimination that appear, it may be utilized the fact that according to the Muslim Council of Great Britain “ The Stop and Search figures released by the Government on July 1st, 2004 revealed a staggering 302% increase in the number of Asians.
Whenever you turn on the news, you see terrorism occurring almost every day everywhere in the world. Nowadays, when you hear “terrorism,” you will most likely hear the word “Islamic radical Extremists.” The Media has done so well to link the act of terrorisms to the religion of Islam. In return, a new word emerged known as “Islamophobia.”
According to the Oxford dictionary, Islamophobia is a “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims. Islamophobia increases as the media portray Muslims as terrorists.* Most, if not all, media platforms are controlled by economic and political elites. In other words, the elites have the power to label individuals and groups as “enemies of society” and decide what general people have to see. They were looked at as “the enemy of society.” Sometimes Muslim students wouldn’t come to school because they had many predators.
As Shirley R. Steinberg describes,“ My student from Brooklyn College called on September 13, 2001, to say she could not attend that evening’s class. An observant Muslim, this student wore a modest veil to school. As she attempted to shop on September 12 in her predominantly Muslim part of Flatbush, she was spat upon and called names. She realized that her safety was in danger, she should not go to the school that week. We saw several instances that echoed this student’s experience. My husband, Joe, called the CNN news desk and asked to speak to a researcher.
He related the student’s story and suggested that CNN investigate and cover the anti-Muslim incidents in Brooklyn during this period. The report laughed and told him that they had more important events to cover, and that, indeed, maybe these incidents should happen more often – maybe his student got what she deserved.” The media was too busy adding fuel to the fire on Islamophobia. They were getting more viewers by doing that. More viewers mean more money generating for them. They didn’t want to cover any stories about how Muslims were being hunted in society after 9/11.
Example #8 – Argumentative Essay On Islamophobia
“Islamophobia is prejudice towards discrimination against Muslims due to their religion, or perceived religion, the national, or ethnic identity associated with Islam because Muslims have different beliefs and values”. Like antisemitism, racism, and homophobia. Islamophobia describes the mentality and actions that domain an entire class of people. Jews, African-Americans, and other populations throughout history have faced prejudice and discrimination.
Islamophobia is simply another reincarnation of this bigotry. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary,a phobia is an exaggerated, usually inexplicable, and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. It may be difficult to determine or communicate the source of this fear, but it exists. From this definition, we can see how is so unfair to connect the word phobia to Islam especially because of the word Islam in Arabic means peace and safety. All that means that a lot of people don’t know-nothings about Islam and the unknown can easily provoke fear.
With the bad reputation of Islam; I mean the terrorism carried out by Muslims because of the 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the Boston bombing, and even after San Bernardino or Orlando, peoples don’t make the distinction between Islam, the religion, and Islamism, the political ideology that societies should be politically organized according to Islamic doctrine and law. Therefore many Muslim people feel personally attacked because Islam is seen as inferior to the West.
It is seen as barbaric, irrational, and primitive. It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations. In fact, Muslims consider the Quran to be the unaltered and final revelation of God and knowing that Islam is an Abrahamic religion that honors prophets like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
Mary is also an important figure in Islam, and there is an entire chapter that bears her name—Surat Maryam. As a result of Islamophobia; there were a lot of reports of assaults, attacks on mosques, and other hate crimes against Muslims last year. Muslims have been shot and killed, execution-style, in their living room, and outside of their mosques.
Example #9 – interesting idea
I am writing a proposal essay on the solutions to Islamophobia, I need ideas (solutions) that can be applied in daily life.? After some radical events, people have developed a hatred for Muslims in America. I am writing a proposal essay that introduces solutions for this. Maybe we need to have a specific religion class that teaches about basic religions. Media might help by airing short films such as “think for yourself”. I need real-life solutions narrowed down to Oklahoma Community. What can we do as Oklahoman to prevent and educate people about Islam? Which eventually will help them understand that the radicals are not the only Muslims. Narrow down the scope and propose a solution for Oklahoma City.
Answer. Indeed a “comparative religion” class would be good. We had it in high school. The rest of your stuff sounds like you cut and pasted it from an assignment, which I’m sure you didn’t, right?
Islamophobia is both a new and old concept. It is natural to form a dislike of a different culture especially when they are more powerful than you. The very spread of Islam, and specifically in how quick it was, caused a great deal of tension between Islam and non-muslims.
Certainly, you have lots of people afraid of Islam in the Middle ages. You can look at some of the primary sources and you can tell that Muslims were not liked, though maybe respected in some rare cases, on principle. Especially in material from the Crusader states and the Spanish kingdoms. When the Ottoman Empire became exceedingly powerful after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there was mass hysteria in Europe. There was also the fact that many Islamic states were much more advanced than their Christian counterparts. The empire got as far as Vienna twice and almost invaded Venice. Many in Christendom were scared of the influence of Islam.
However, with the decline of the Ottomans, starting from the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the rapid rise of European powers, Islam was severely less feared. This has as much to do with the break away from Christian religious tradition, then the decline of Islamic power. Certainly, imperialism was areligious, and Islamophobia ceased to be a widespread concept. After all, it was the European powers that now dominated the world.
Islamophobia picked up again when these imperial powers were in decline- that is to say after WW2. This coincided with the emergence of Islamic nations becoming industrialized and powerful in their own right. This also meant a boom in population, thus also creating more Muslim immigrants working in non-Islamic areas.
I would put a date somewhere in the 1950s as an early marker for the widespread development of the phobia, when you have radical Islam politics developing, and the Arab-Israeli conflict kicking off. Stuff like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt formed at this time. Islamophobia is more widespread now because of the increased contact people in Europe have with Muslims and especially fundamentalism.
There are many triggers in the increased awareness of these extremist Muslims that have provoked the recent fears. Stuff like deposing the Iranian shah in 1979, the Gulf War in 1991, and the World Trade Center bombings in 1993, and, of course, more recent events have made this relatively widespread. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people understand that conflict in the Middle East is not just about Islam.
If I do have a criticism of Islam, it would be that it has become indistinguishable from Arab and middle east culture. People fear death and war, that’s natural. Islam has unfairly or fairly taken a lot of the blame for a significant proportion of all the wars and social violence in the last 50 years and the last 25 years especially because they have been focused on the Middle East.
what do you guys know about islamophobia?
what do you think we can do about it? If you know a book or a good website that talks about it can you please write it? Update: well I am a muslim..and the stereotypes about Islam annoy me…it’s like thinking that every Muslim is a terrorist, you really can’t judge Muslims based on what one or few Muslims did…you can’t judge Islam with out knowing what’s it all about…
Islamophobia is the fear of Islam and anything and everything having to do with Islam. Like all phobias, it is based on fear which represents a lack of knowledge (i.e., fearing the unknown). It may also be produced by unknowledgeable persons listening to and accepting the ignorance of others as fact. It can also be part of religious bigotry where members of one religion are intolerant and lack in understanding of another. they may also make false statements regarding that which they are afraid of.
Be well. As salaamu ‘alaikym warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, my friend. Living one’s faith as an example of what it truly teaches so as to educate those who do not know or understand, doing so with great patience and courage may be the only path that you have. Insha’Allah, may you have the spiritual strength to do so and live the true “peace” of Islam?
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