Islamophobia and Democracy: The Historical 200+ Year War Context between the Crescent and the Cross
The calamity of Islamophobic culture and policy, used by the far-right parties to stoke fear, blame and hatred, in the West and the international community at large, is not merely the sum of the individual tragedies of abuse and alienation nor even the generation of pretexts for further war and apartheid. We are witnessing a global tragedy unfolding before our eyes in which the vital contributions of Islam – and religion generally – to solving the international, moral, social and political crises of the modern world is purposely being diluted from our memories, thanks to the imperialistic propaganda at hand.
Islamophobia refers to unfounded fear of and hostility towards Islam. The term seems to date back to the late 1980s, but came into common usage after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States to refer to types of political dialogue that appeared prejudicially resistant to pro-Islamic argument. Such fear and hostility leads to discriminations against Muslims, exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political or social process, stereotyping, the presumption of guilt by association, and finally hate crimes. Islamophobia as a term and as a phenomena gained currency in part due to the popular thesis developed by Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington that argued about an impending clash of civilization between Islam and the West. When 9-11 happened, the people already predisposed to viewing Islam with suspicion jumped on this bandwagon and through a multitude of primarily right wing outlets have been successful in creating a climate of extreme prejudice, suspicion and fear against Muslims. This sentiment has also been aided by many pro-Israeli commentators such as Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, Judith Miller, and Bernard Lewis, not to mention the gimmick-driven Pamela Geller, among many others.
Through the mass media and political rhetoric, the international community have become immune to reading the redundant usage and coupling of Islamic or Muslim with the inappropriate terms of ‘extremist’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘fanatic’ and ‘terrorist’. Indeed, Muslim men were part of the World Trade Center attacks. However, these Muslims are limited to a specific number, they are specifically called Islamo-fascists. The widespread use of one’s religious adherence becomes a vital and necessary factor in describing any individual or group that is featured in a news story, but Islam, in general, being unfairly targeted will remain valid. There are many “religious” groups who have committed crimes against Humanity such as the Jewish Israeli guards who have opened fire on the West Bank or Roman Catholic Basque separatists who focus their terrorist activities on the Spanish tourist trade. Why can we not discriminate and villify those too?