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Islamophobia: The vicious and vitriolic design to vilify Islam

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At present, Islamophobia has become a novel proclivity which has incited antipathy and anathema against Muslim masses and Islam. It is a term used to describe ludicrous antipathy and aversion, dislike and dread, nonsensical repugnance and incongruity against Islam, Muslim Ummahh and Islamic culture. According to Oxford dictionary, Islamophobia is defined as “A dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims especially as a political force.”
The roots of Islamophobia can be found in the beginning of cold war era. Additionally, the tragic and terrible 9/11 attacks has drastically changed and aggravated the public opinion towards Muslims. Since then, terrorist acts; such as, the attacks by violent jihadists in London, Paris, Brussels, and Barcelona have increased fear and anxiety. The use of Islam by extremists to justify their terrific assaults has made many Europeans to regard Islam as a threat and to fear Muslims as an enemy. There prevail concerns that such exaggeration and generalization about Muslims are directed to adopt counter-terrorism measures in Europe, ultimately restricting liberties of Muslim community.
Moreover, in recent years, Islamophobia has been fueled by public anxiety over immigration and the integration of Muslim minorities into majority cultures in Europe. These tensions have been exacerbated in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2007 and the rise of populist nationalist politicians. As Muslims are in minority in westernized states thus minorities often serve as patsy in times of economic and political crisis.
According to estimates, approximately 20 million Muslims who live in European Union are depicted as an inherent threat to the European way of life, even in countries where they have lived for generations. The myth of an ongoing European “Islamization” or invasion has been nurtured by xenophobic, populist parties that are on the rise across Europe. In fact, Europeans overestimate the proportion of their Muslim population. Islamophobia has been entrenched in their minds therefore different tools are being utilized to defame Islam and Muslim Ummah.
According to Thomas Hammerberg, the former Commissioner of Council of Europe (CoE) for Human Rights, Islamophobia is a “symptom of the disintegration of human values.” Though, European societies always brag themselves of their principles and values. The pack of norms which are based on equality and justice, freedom of thoughts and expression, solidarity and autonomy. These values are supposed to be intrinsic in their societies upon which the European Union and the Council of Europe were built. Providentially, many institutions, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and different NGOs, such as the Collective against Islamophobia in Paris, have acknowledged the extent and nature of discrimination based incidents perpetrated against European Muslims.
These forums have alarmed whole Europe of the increased level and nature of incidents directed against Muslim minority. For instance, the 2017 EU Minorities and Discrimination Survey found that on average one in three Muslim respondents have faced discrimination and prejudice in previous 12 months, and 27 percent experienced a racist crime. Research also shows that Islamophobia can impact women especially in job market.
Currently, as is highlighted in recent research by the European Network against Racism, Islamophobia in Europe has heightened to an alarming level. It is apparent through different laws and legislations, policies and practices, attitudes and behaviors of individuals, organizations and institutions. These acts directly or indirectly target and disproportionally affect Muslims. Besides this, such discriminatory policies unduly restrict their freedom of religion. Few of many instances that vary across different countries include: physical or verbal attacks on property, places of worship, and people, especially those who display a visible manifestation of their religious identity such as women wearing hijab or naqab.
Furthermore, verbal or online threats of violence, vilification, and abuse, bans on using religious and cultural symbols, laws against facial concealment, and ban on building Masajid with minarets, discrimination in education, employment, housing, or access to goods and services, ethnic and religious profiling and police abuse, including some provisions of counterterrorism policing, public pronouncements by some journalists and politicians, across the political spectrum, characterize Muslims disgraceful as a group and unheeded their positive contributions to the community and country wherein they reside. Government policies have failed to ensure equal rights for all, forcing significant sections of Muslim minority to face unemployment, poverty, and limited civic and political participation.
Regrettably, it is a feeling of utmost abhorrence and abomination towards Muslims at global level. They are portrayed as fanatic, extremist, misogynist, uncivilized, terrorists and sexually promiscuous. Such sentiments of contempt and hatred against Islam and Muslims are not the novel one. This has been in practice since long and can be addressed as an orientalist approach. Professor Edward, the writer of book “Orientalism”, describes orientalism as, “it is a sense of superiority which Western people keep in their mind and consider all other races, regions, and religions inferior. The approach based on orientalism, finally paves a way for white supremacy, described as racialism; ultimately, forming a race concept.
Despite aforementioned history and evidences, Muslims have been addressed as racist and violent. They are regarded in engagement with clash of civilization. All this is a deliberate attempt which aims at dismantling Muslims and spoiling teachings of Islam. Since 2001, media mafia in Europe has succumbed to reporting based on stereotypes and used the actions of Islamists to stigmatize Muslim population. To serve the cause, a wide media network has been developed in the popular support of Islamophobia. Such as David Jerusalem Society of Americans for National Security (SANS) is behind the anti-Shariah bills that have been presented in 37 US states; 14 of them have been passed with majority of votes.
Another outfit working under the slogan “Stop Islamization of America” (SIA) by Panela Cellar supports anti- Muslim moves and launches anti -Mosques campaign is USA. Unluckily, all this is done in the wake of emerging fear of Islam and Muslims.
Indeed, such moves and actions show, there is a very little or no information regarding Islam or Muslims. A report published by ‘Pen Survey’ reveals that 20% of US population has never tried to understand what Islam actually is. While more than 37% of US citizens have never been in contact with any Muslim in their lives. This Islam-mongering approach is nothing more than an intrigue against Islam.
Consequently, Islamophobia has impacted so intensively that the politicians who chanted slogans against Islam and Muslims won elections in US, UK and India particularly. Donald Trump, on becoming president of United States of America (USA) imposed a travel ban on Muslim countries and exaggerated the political turmoil prevailing in Middle Eastern countries. Similarly, Boris Johnson (Prime Minister of UK) also passed derogatory remarks and compared face covering Muslim women with dacoits. In the same run, France imposed a ban on face concealment. Whereas in Sweden, a group of people held a protest against Muslims and tried to sacrilege the Holy Quran (though the attempt was halted by Ilyas Omar).
This shows how a severe impact Islamophobia has on the minds of so-called civilized and well advanced Western people. Same sort of incident took place in New Zealand at Christ Church Mosque, where more then 50 people were murdered in an open fire by a Christian terrorist. He was regarded as a moron and a mentally sick man rather than a terrorist. Ironically, whenever, there is an act of terrorism on the side of a Muslim, it is highlighted manifold as compared to the same kind of violent act performed by a non-Muslim.
Furthermore, to fan the flames, Hollywood too came on the scene to join hands with propagandists. It has started releasing movies based on hatred against Islam and Muslims. Such as “Aladdin, 7 Days in Entebbe and Beirut”. Different websites are also launched and books published to disseminate anti- Muslim literature. Such fear mongering tactics to stir up aversion against Muslims have blindly been accepted. Newspapers like ‘Washington Post’ have also played a vital role in damaging and defaming Islam. ‘Homemade’ is the most bigoted show on television.
Additionally, different games have been launched which clearly portray Muslims as terrorists. Such games are intended with the aim to brainwash children to kill all terrorists who are shown as Muslims. That’s really pathetic. ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Bamboo’ are exemplary in this regard. Moreover, US policies in the wake of Islamophobia such as war on terror, fierce conflagration in Syria, and deadly sanctions on Iran, years old confrontation in Afghanistan, are very deadly and deteriorating. Thus cannot be stopped in a blink of an eye.
As the impacts are very deep so the countering strategies to combat Islamophobia should be intense and specified. Therefore, the dire need is to educate the masses about true teachings and essence of Islam. What Islam embodies and reveals has to be disseminated to all and sundry. Islam is not about radicalism, it is a religion which accepts modernity and paves a way for scientific developments and rationale.
Islam teaches its followers to think and mull over whatever comes before them. This observation is the key to scientific approach. Islam needs to be portrayed what it actually is. It encapsulates human rights, gender equality, women rights, freedom of speech and denial. The last sermon of Holy Prophet (SAAW) duly expresses that all human beings are equal in the eyes of Allah Almighty. Hence condemning the concept of superiority of a particular individual or race over another. Thus makes it clear that the superior are those only who are the most pious and rightful. All are equal in the eyes of Almighty God.
Besides presenting true teachings of Islam, counter Islamophobia policies should essentially be adopted, using different tools and forums in order to sabotage growing anti-Islam theories and ideas. For instance, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Muhammad have taken a timely decision (though not implemented yet) to launch a TV channel where true teachings and essentials of Islam will be promulgated.
In addition to that, it should be kept in mind that as Islamophobia defames Islam and Muslims, it becomes the ultimate responsibility of all Muslim countries to promote pluralistic vision of Islam. For Islam is not a race but a religion. It is not a political force but a pack of norms and values. It doesn’t engage its followers in clash with civilizations rather cobbles people of different races, castes and creeds into a single knot that is Islam. Under the umbrella of Islam, no one is superior, nor anyone is inferior, all enjoy equal perks and privileges under its shadow.
To sum up, irrespective of all biased detestation and baseless execration, the message of Islam stands crystal clear. All such moves and turns directed against Islam are aimed at serving the vested interests of a particular group. Islam has nothing to do with irrationality and barbarism. It is a highly modified religion which is the custodian of humanity and harbinger of social norms and spiritual values. Islam teaches love and promotes respect among its followers. This is the reason Muslims from China to Chile, from America to Australia, from Russia to Rwanda bow down before one God, in one direction to show the world, Islam unites and brings together rather than dividing and creating a gulf in human race.