The following essay on Islamophobia is for all those candidates who are preparing for any sort of competitive exam; i.e. CSS, PMS, etc.
We have made headings in this essay for better understanding. However, you must avoid making these headings in your exam.
What is Islamophobia?
The Oxford Dictionary defines Islamophobia as, ‘intense dislike or fear of Islam; especially as a political force; or hostility or prejudice towards the Muslims’.
Some scholars call Islamophobia a form of racism. For example, Allan Johnson, a British politician, said that Islamophobia is nothing more than xenophobia or racism wrapped in religious terms.
Due to hatred for Muslims and fear of Islam, Muslims in Western countries have suffered persecution numerous times.
Examples of Islamophobia
There are numerous other examples or instances of Islamophobia like making blasphemous cartoons or caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Such cartoons or caricatures are made under the garb of freedom of speech.
The UN expert Doudou Diene called for international mechanisms including UNGA to treat such cases not as a clash of civilizations but as a debate on balancing two rights; i.e. freedom of expression and respect for each religion.
- On September 30, 2005, a Danish newspaper published controversial editorial cartoons that led to violent demonstrations across the Muslim world.
- In 2006, Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, republished Jyllands-Posten’s controversial caricatures.
- In 2010, France banned face coverings for women. Many physical assaults on women wearing hijabs were reported.
- On November 03, 2011, the same magazine featured controversial cartoons. The newspaper office was firebombed and the website was hacked.
- In 2012, Charlie Hebdo published controversial satirical cartoons prompting the French government to close embassies, consulates, and international schools in 20 Muslim countries.
- On March 15, 2019, in New Zealand, a terrorist named Brenton Tarrant committed two consecutive terror attacks at Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, killing 51 people and injuring 50 others. The terrorist live-streamed the 17-minute shooting spree on Facebook.
- On October 16, 2020, Samuel Paty, a French secondary school teacher, was killed in Paris as he had shown the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons of 2012 on the pretext of freedom of expression.
- On October 21, 2020, two Muslim women were stabbed in Paris in reaction to Samuel Paty’s murder.
Causes of Islamophobia
As Islamophobia is a common issue in Western Countries, it is pertinent to highlight and understand the causes of Islamophobia.
1. Runnymede Trust Report
To determine the causes of Islamophobia, in 1996, Runnymede Trust established a commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI). The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, Gordon Conway, chaired the commission.
The trust report states that there are certain misperceptions about Islam at the foundation of Islamophobia, as mentioned below:
- Islam is monolithic, static, and unresponsive to change.
- Islam has no values in common with other cultures and remains unaffected by other cultures and has no influence on others.
- The believers of this religion are violent, aggressive, threatening, and supportive of terrorism.
- It is a political ideology used for political and military advantage.
So, these are common misperceptions in the mind of Westerners that make them fear Islam.
2. Negative Role of Western
Apart from the misperceptions, the negative role played by the Western media is adding insult to injury. He who controls the media controls the minds.
The western media is leaving no stone unturned in blaming Islam for all the terrorism, bloodshed, blasts, etc around the world.
The most prominent example is how the media uses the terms Islamic bombs, and Islamic terrorism to infuse fear and hatred against Islam in people’s minds.
Moreover, the western media is so powerful and vocal that leaves little or no space for the Muslim viewpoint. Hence, Muslims’ viewpoint is always underrepresented.
3. Multiple Terrorist Organizations working in the Name of Islam
Various terrorist and extremist organizations such as Al Qaida, ISIS, etc. are pursuing their terrorist agenda in the name of Islam.
Although they have no connection to Islam (the religion of peace), the people who know nothing or very little about Islam start fearing them and Islam. They take Islam as a religion that promotes violence and bloodshed.
4. Internal Conditions of the Muslim World promote rather than dispel Islamophobia
The Muslim world is ridden with internal conflicts. Divided into different sects, most commonly Sunni Shia, their internal rifts present a negative image of Islam to the world.
Moreover, Muslims are lagging far behind in education, science, technology, and the economy. Always dependent on foreign aid and help, it failed to influence the western world.
Muslims fighting and killing each other, and lobbying against each other as in the case of KSA and Iran, is only one aspect to mention.
Ultimately, the western world finds nothing interesting about Islam and Muslims; thus, they become xenophobic about Islam and Muslims.
5. Failure of Muslims to Tackle Islamophobia
While Islamophobia is a real problem that needs proper attention, the Muslim world has done nothing or very little to counter it.
In the current globalized world where Muslims have multiple options available to promote the real message and teachings of Islam, unfortunately, Muslims have never paid any heed to it.
Ways to Counter Islamophobia
As Islamophobia is growing in Western countries, there is a dire need that Muslim countries must make effective policies to counter it.
In this regard, the following few suggestions will be helpful.
1. Unity among Muslims is a Pre-requisite to Counter Islamophobia
Muslims cannot counter external problems as long as they do not resolve their internal conflicts and achieve unity.
So, for a joint strategy and response to Islamophobia, Muslims should work on promoting unity among divided sects.
For that, the organizations such as OIC under the leadership of leading Muslim states such as KSA, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, etc can help in this cause.
Only then Muslims would be able to project a positive image of Islam and Muslims to the world.
2. Excelling in the fields of Education, Science, and Technology
As Runnymede Report highlights that Islam is unresponsive to change, to prove this point invalid, Muslims must excel in the field of science and technology.
It was the Muslims who first started working in different scientific fields, Muslims must invest in the field and must make unprecedented leaps in these fields.
This would project the soft power image of the Muslim world in world. Hence, it will dispel all the hatred against Islam and Muslims.
3. Making the West aware of True Islam through Media
In the sideline meetings of UNGA with other Muslim leaders, Imran Khan introduced the idea of a common television channel; such initiatives can go a long way in dispelling the fear of Islam.
Making the Western world aware of true Islam is a prerequisite to countering Islamophobia. So, Muslim countries must commence such television programs that would highlight the true glory and message of Islam.
4. Disowning Terrorist Organizations and Their Agenda
Muslim countries must clearly crackdown against terrorist and extremist organizations. Furthermore, through newspapers and television programs, they must make it clear that ISIS and other such organizations have nothing to do with Islam.
Furthermore, Muslims must highlight the fact that Muslims are the most affected targets of these terrorist organizations. Moreover, Muslim countries must highlight their efforts in countering terrorism.
In a nutshell, Islamophobia is a real challenge to the Muslim world in the current era. Due to this, Muslims are discriminated against and mistreated in the west.
We have highlighted multiple instances and examples of Islamophobia around the world. Moreover, we have also highlighted the way forward. The Muslim world must make sincere policies and efforts to counter this menace.
In short, Islamophobia exists in various forms. A multipronged response is the need of the hour to counter it.
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