What Is Islamophobia? literally means
What is Islamophobia literally means is the fear of Islam: it is used to refer to prejudice or discrimination against Muslims and incorporates the perception that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion. The term itself dates back to the 1980s, but came into common usage after the September 11th attacks in America in 2001.
“Have you ever felt depressed and isolated because you were misunderstood?”
What is Islamophobia?
Although fear and hatred of Muslims is as old as Islam itself, the term “Islamophobia” is a relatively recent neologism that is used to “draw attention to a normalized prejudice and unjustified discrimination against Muslims."
Islamophobia includes discrimination against Muslims in employment practices, the provision of health care and education; exclusion of Muslims from government, politics, and employment (including management and positions of responsibility); violence toward Muslims including physical assaults, verbal abuse and vandalizing of property; and prejudice against Muslims in the media and in “everyday conversation."
The most common WRONG ideas about Muslims
- Religions fanatic and militant.
- Hard-headed and ill-tempered, uneducated and unsophisticated.
- Have many kids to get social benefits.
- Wear headscarves and keep long beards.
- Practice patriarchal family system, oppress women and children.
- Culturally traditionalists.
- Want to live in ghettos and do not want integration.
- Support Jihad and are involved in terrorism.
- Hate all non-Muslims and regard their women as prostitutes.
- Reject modernity and hate progress.
Key issues facing the Muslims due to Islamophobia
- High unemployment.
- Lack of respectful recognition of their faith.
- Lack of mosques and burial places.
- Linking of terrorism with the religion of Islam and every Muslim being held responsible for criminal and violent actions of the few any where in the world.
- Political harassment, propaganda and negation of individual’s right to be different.
- Use of harsh adjectives and degrading language in the public debate.
- Lack of legal protection because of “freedom of speech” concept.
- Media’s selection of few extremist persons and movements as true representatives of Islam.
- Hostility of host societies.
Consequences of Islamophobia on America
Regardless of one’s feelings toward Islam, Muslims, and the term Islamophobia itself, anti-Muslim sentiment is an important issue for Americans to address, for many reasons:
- First, the American Muslim population often is increasingly "the target of hate crimes and discrimination;" this violation of the civil rights of American citizens must be addressed.
- Second, the lack of differentiation between moderate and extremist Muslims is symptomatic of a broader danger not only to Muslims, but also to American society in general. Painting Muslims in broad strokes leaves Americans less equipped to identify and counter the actual threats which do exist.
- Third, foreign Muslim populations feel increasingly threatened by American foreign policy and expanding global interests. Although the vast majority of these Muslims would not retaliate against civilians via violent means, a small number would justify doing so.
- fourth reason why Americans need to address anti-Muslim sentiment is that Americans must develop a more nuanced understanding of Islam. Accurately understanding Islam and the Muslim world will enable Americans to identify and react to real threats appropriately and not waste time and energy on scapegoating.
- Lastly, Islamophobia is a self-fulfilling prophecy and vicious cycle -- it produces backlash by Muslims, which in turn makes Americans more Islamophobic.
The following short video may give you some ideas about what is Islamophobia.
How to fight Islamophobia
- A pro-active and open-minded discussion concerning the accommodation between secular and religious forces in the society, including Muslim communities.
- A clear understanding that Islam in not a nationality or ethnicity but a faith.
- A closer look at the terminology used by the media in its coverage of Islam, and Muslims in general and terrorism in particular.
- De-linking of Islam and terrorism or militancy in media.
- Clear guidelines against Islamophobia from internationally respected organs, like UN, OSCE, ODIHR, EU, Council of Europe.
- Strong legislation against hatred speech, incitement to religious hatred and propaganda. A monitoring system would be of great help.
- An ongoing dialogue with the media as how to balance freedom of speech, covering events without prejudice and being sensitive to the rights of minorities.
- Seminar and workshops for the journalistic community and resource persons among diverse Muslim groups.
- More transparency among Muslim communities, quick response to wrong information in the media.
- Invite mainstream journalists to the Muslim community arrangements so that they can see from close quarters, what they write about’.
- Inclusion of Islam in the religious studies at the primary and middle school level. It should be done at par with other faiths.
- The provision of information concerning Islam and Muslim cultures to the employees of diverse sectors of society which normally come in contact with Muslim communities in daily life, for example; health, education, social and other public services.