After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, issue of Islamophobia came back into the international community’s agenda again. Since the September 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, fear of Islam and Muslims in Western societies already seems to have increased significantly. Paris attacks led the fear of Islam to the highest levels.
A phobia, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object or situation. It may be hard to determine or communicate sufficiently the source of this fear, but it exists.
Islamophobia has swept the world and becoming detrimental to international peace especially in recent years. The fear and hatred of Islam is the factor that not only exposes 1.6 billion Muslims to various negativities but also removes the tolerance which is a common ground for peaceful co-existence of different beliefs. Therefore, Islamophobia poses a big problem for believers of other religions as well.
As generally accepted, Islamophobia is a term for prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam, Muslims, or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim. That term refers to an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life. Although the causes and characteristics of Islamophobia are still to be debated, some scholars have defined it as a type of racism. This term was coined in the context of Muslims in the UK in particular and Europe in general and formulated based on the more common term “xenophobia” framework.
Today, there is no generally accepted legal text that defines Islamophobia. In the eyes of Muslims, Islamophobic attitudes and actions against Muslims are seen as attacks on human rights. For them, Islamophobia is deemed as a human rights issue because of its implication of fear and intolerance culminating in hate speech and attitudes towards Muslims. Today all Muslims around the world call for recognition of Islamophobia as a hate crime and Islamophobic attitudes as human rights violations, highlighting the legal dimension of the issue. Therefore, existing relationship of Islamophobia to human rights and universal law appears to be an important subject requiring to be scrutinized.
When we look at the social life within western societies, we see easily that there are genuine negative perceptions, prejudices and discriminations targeted against Muslims. Seeing Muslims as not loyal, voicing prejudice against Muslims, and avoiding Muslims as neighbors are all symptoms of Islamophobia that exist in the West. However, those views and feelings do not characterize Western countries. They are generally shared by a subset of the general population, though they exist in substantial enough numbers to draw both attention and concern.
The promotion of Islamophobia in the media organs creates both prejudice and discrimination among the general population. Prejudice plays a key role in the existence and proliferation of Islamophobia. Prejudice alone as a negative judgment, opinion or attitude, is a detrimental to a population’s overall wellbeing. The forms of media coverage on Muslims and Islam are very influential in of spread of Islamophobia and the social problem that it tends to lead. Anti-Islamic propagandas made through images and language used by the visual media and print media play efficient role in creating the social repercussion of Islamophobia. Moreover, media, with its far reaching effects on public opinion, has the potential of playing effective role in fighting against Islamophobia as well as in spreading it.
On the other hand, muslims also should pay attention to the factors leading to Islamophobia in the world. Muslims should avoid from the actions and rhetoric that target dominant values, attitudes and behaviours of the societies in which they live. For Muslims, to live and perpetuate religious obligations freely is the most natural rights. But, they cannot force anyone to become Muslim. They have no right to compel non muslims to behave like Muslims. They cannot use weapons to force non-muslims to become Muslim.
1-Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, and Faiz Shakir, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” (Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, 2011), available at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/pdf/islamophobia.pdf
2-Alejandro J. Beutel, “Data on Post-9/11 Terrorism in the United States” (Washington, D.C.: Muslim Public Affairs Council, 2011), available at http://www.mpac.org/assets/docs/publications/MPAC-Post-911-Terrorism-Data.pdf
3-Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting” (Chapel Hill, NC: Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 2011), available at http://sanford.duke.edu/centers/tcths/about/documents/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Terrorism_Since_911_An_Accounting.pdf