Islamophobia & Myth-Conceptions
As I have mentioned previously, one of the reasons I started this blog was to address the problem of Islamophobia. It’s a word that has crept into the vocabulary of what you might term the liberal or progressive fairly recently. But the existence of the word and even the concept itself, still gets denied and ridiculed by certain sections of the right. For those who may be uninitiated, I’ll give as clear and concise a summary of what it means as I can. The dictionary definition is: hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture or, simply, prejudice against Muslims
There are people that claim it’s a manufactured word, invented by the PC Brigade to stifle debate about the ‘Muslim problem’. This is incorrect of course. There is absolutely no denying that prejudice against Muslims exists, so what should it be called? You could use the phrase ‘religious bigotry’, but that would be avoiding the fact that the religion of Islam is the target of more discrimination than, say Christianity or Hinduism. The phrase ‘Anti-Semitism’ is used to describe discrimination against Jews, so why shouldn’t Muslims be able to legitimise the discrimination they face by giving it a name? It’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll just say, it’s because it doesn’t suit the agenda of the right, who are relying on the perception of the bogeyman of Islam to further their power and influence.
One of the reasons the word Islamophobia needed to be coined, was because it was too easy for the anti-Islam movement to deny accusations of racism due to Islam not being a race. A convenient excuse that’s become a tired cliché parroted by the likes of the EDL. It is now standard procedure for them to scoff at their new label as a made up word, invented to stop their freedom of speech. As far as they are concerned, as their mission statement claims, they are only against militant Islam not ALL Muslims. They are an anti-extremist pressure group, a human rights organisation in fact. Everyone is against terrorism, oppression and brutality right? How can that be construed as racist or Islamophobic?
It doesn’t take too much scrutiny to find the ignorance and prejudice that earns people of their ilk the label though. They are against Sharia law being implemented in the UK, they are against Halal meat and produce on the grounds of animal rights, they are against the Burka on the grounds of women’s rights, they are opposed to the building of Mosques as they believe they are breeding grounds for extremism, they believe the Qu’ran is an evil, barbaric book that promotes hatred of non-Muslims. You might be thinking, ‘but surely if all that’s true, their cause is valid’. And you’d be right. But the problem is, their opinions are based on myths, misconceptions and blatant lies. Aided and abetted by the right wing media and professional bigots, there is no shortage of anti-Muslim propaganda to fuel their beliefs and justify their prejudice.
The Runnymeade Trust attempted to define Islamophobia way back in 1997. Their document ‘Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All’ is widely accepted, including by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
The eight components are:
1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2. Islam is seen as separate and ‘other’. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3. Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4. Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a ‘clash of civilisations’.
5. Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage.
6. Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7. Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8. Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.
Other definitions and comments can be found here: http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-a-definition/
What I intend to do, is debunk the myths, expose the lies and set the record straight. The information needed to do this is already out there and readily available. So I’m not claiming it as my own work. Merely presenting the results of my research, in the hope that it can contribute positively, in some way, to the fight against hatred.