Understanding Western Islamophobia

August 5, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

130625-islamophobia

 

By

Anant Mishra

Introduction

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim”, so says Fox news reporter Brian Kilmeade.

These words demonstrate exactly how tense the situation has become both politically and socially between the Western world and the Middle East.

Today the number of terror attacks (since 9/11) fails to decrease, but at the same time has not increased either.  According to the FBI’s report (2002–2005), the major issue that persists is the rise of domestic terrorism, with only one out of twenty four terrorist acts being committed by Islamic extremist groups. Today, tensions between the two groups seem to be reaching a breaking point, the strain of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and controversy surrounding the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill this February concerning many conflict analysts.

As the political world becomes more fragile, with biases clouding the sky, it is now appropriate for the United Nations to reach a solution regarding the widespread Islamophobia, as it is not only a toxic mindset, but is the instigator of a threat to a community now gripped in terror.

 

Islamophobia

Experts say Islamophobia was termed in the 1990s, and is defined as “an unfounded dislike or hostility towards Muslims, or fear of Muslims and Islamic culture”. Islamophobia is the “western definition of Islam”, a definition originating from the hatred towards Islam.  It explains the western understanding of the western propagation of anti-Islam views, where the “western” view is more true than the truth itself.

 

Tolerance

We define Tolerance as: “respect, acceptance, and appreciation of all cultures, and of the rich diversity that our world has to offer”.  Tolerance, under no circumstances offers problematic behaviour and allows involvement in problematic behaviour.

 

Religion and the UN                      

In the past the United Nations General Assembly had expressed deep concerns regarding the rise in Islamophobia, especially against Muslim and Islamic communities. This stereotyping of religion has increased in recent years; numerous discussions having taken place with respect to the defamation of religion, as multiple drafts have been put forward by developing nations, particularly Muslim. The difficulty now lies in explaining what defamation should be, and will it prevent religious hatred and the support of freedom of speech; the discussion therefore now remains inconclusive. What should be included in the defamation? Will it support the “freedom of religion”? The discussion that stands today is whether defamation outlaws the freedom of religion and freedom of speech or that outlawing defamation is to outlaw free speech. Such arguments are prominently supported by experts, the idea of defamation as an “over drafted rule” therefore considered.

The debate today however is more focused on “how the tolerance of people and religion can be achieved”, and “how Islamophobia and an inherent fear of “other” that has been instilled in the western world, can be unlearned”.  There is another debate at play here, that being the story of religion interpreted by the west. It is very clear that clouded judgments on religion have made Europe an enemy making it a prime target for radical right Islamic attacks, and that radical Islamic attacks are creating more radical right wing activism, a problem that continues to grow today.

 

The Media   

The media plays a very important role when we talk about islamophobia and biased views, most of the western media having reported on radical terrorism.  The “outspoken and wrongly misinformed” news agencies such as CNN and the “ever horrifying” Fox News have caused massive civil unrest among citizens, especially against Muslim communities in the West, depicting the Muslim world as a violent and fanatical religion. “Not all Muslims are terrorists” is more than just a fundamental expression of human rights, it is  a call that many media outlets failed to recognise. Many citizens are swayed by the media, provoking religious hatred through their farfetched and incorrect information and this perpetual stereotype of the media plays a huge role in the “poisonous growth” of Islamophobia and religious intolerance.

 

The Debarred – Muslim Communities in the West

Undoubtedly there are many far left Muslim communities who forgive the Islamic religious militancy doctrine, many of which are very strong supporters of peace and believers in equality, compared to the far right wing militant leaders who have seized the opportunity of power in spreading violence, incompetent enough to spread the correct message of the religion “Islam”.

The Muslim communities in the western world have become quite resilient to unprovoked attacks and still work their way to reconcile with the westerners.  However, reconciliation comes with a price: Islamic states are very secular (in general) and when people migrate to the western regions their religious and political thoughts remain the same, as embedded by their government. When involvement with other religious groups occurs, they become secluded and this is where the problem begins. Seclusion brings negativity and hatred followed by brain washing by similar religious mentors, who then train these blind followers to committ crimes against the same people they live and breathe with.

As quite clearly stated by the Thought Catalogue reporter Daniel Bier, these ‘preachings’ take the role of medieval Christendom where the creation of laws were difficult to understand but followers grew, craving on the the negative parts of a religious and political doctrine engraved in the followers. Today it is the modern crusade, but this time it is the crusade of Islam.

So how can we bring about change? Simple, involving Muslim communities in western societies and spreading the message of peace and harmony will turn the tide; willingness to turn the key. The problem lies when there is a miscommunication and no one addresses it. People tend to understand matters in their own way, hence the active participation of Muslim communities, not just in other religious groups but in their own communities also, will get positive results.

To ensure the execution of positive plans, it is imperative for both the Muslim and western communities to open up and accept each other’s differences and resolve them, so that a positive atmosphere towards religion is spread and religious dominance and the “theory of outcast and outcry” is diminished.

 

Education and Intolerance  

Concern towards the state of the nation increases confusion between religious groups, and to burn more air, religious hatred, Islamophobia and stereotypes against religion are fuelled. This then results in a massive increase in discrimination and intolerance of the general public towards communities, particularly Muslims.

There are numerous ways by which we can combat this religious intolerance, and the only effective method is through education. Many people who are intolerant towards a religion are (on most occasions) illiterate, and are easily targeted by the media or through political figures either out of fear or ignorance. They express their views based on what they have been told by their elders. The fundamental role of education is not only to make a person literate, but to make a society safe and help people understand the diverse cultures because diversity can only be understood through education, as education encourages acceptance; next in line coming freedom.

Educating elders and those who are in power is very important. It is also important to understand that children see how their elders respond and respond in a similar way by doing what the elders did. The most important point here is the intolerance in households, schools of diverse religious beliefs.

Intolerance is not something you are born with, it is something you learn right from your childhood, the repetitive use of the word “other”. Hence it is the duty of educators to discourage religious intolerance and educate students so that they become better global citizens and help spread tolerance. Education is the best way to promote tolerance.

The bitter truth here is “education requires involvement from all parties”, which clearly means that global participation is a must. Many experts agree to the point that Islamic radicalisation is where western nations have come to a boiling point, and so in order for the UN to resolve the issue of religious hatred and intolerance, all parties must agree to come together and educate, and must look for opportunities to educate people globally. Steps like these will create tolerance and an understanding of issues on both sides. To bring these plans into reality, global participation is an absolute necessity.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0031

Anant Mishra

Anant Mishra is a freelance Writer and Journalist having had work published in numerous publications worldwide. He is also a former Youth Representative to the United Nations.

1 Comment

  1. sattar rind August 06, at 11:27

    “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim” -what is wrong in it?

    Reply

Leave a Reply