Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims in general, especially when seen as a geo- political force or a source of terrorism. (according to Wikipedia).
Islamophobia is a prejudice, aversion, hostility, or hatred towards Muslims and encompasses any distinction, exclusion, restriction, discrimination, or preference against Muslims that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
Definition of Islamophobia in the light of OIC:
Islamophobia is a combination of hate, fear, and prejudice against Islam, against Muslims, as well as against anything associated with the religion, such as Mosques, Islamic Centers, Holy Qur’an, Hijab, etc. It also constitutes hatred, stigmatization, racism and discriminations in daily life, on Media, at workplace, in political sphere, etc. It rests in the mind and it reflects in attitudes, and could be manifested through violent actions, such as burning mosques, vandalizing properties, abusing women wearing scarf, or insulting Prophet or sacred symbols of Islam. That is more or less, how Islamophobia identifiable, how it manifests, which can be seen not only from incidents, but also through perspectives, statements, behavior, and gestures.
Since the last two decades, Islamophobia keeps growing in some parts of the world, through intensive campaigns and public discourses disseminating fear of Islam, and through significant number of incidents targeting Muslims, mosques, Islamic attires, and Islamic most-revered figures.
Reason of using term “Islamophobia”:
Despite longstanding semantical debates and proposals of alternative terms, such as “anti-Muslim hatred”, the term “Islamophobia” is the most appropriate terminology to use in this debate for a variety of reasons.
- It is an established terminology in academic, activist, advocacy, and victim vocabularies.
- It is a terminology with an existing broad conceptual understanding. Therefore, it is an all-encompassing label that identifies the phenomenon in all its social, economic and political forms.
- Contrary to some claims, it has not historically, nor should it presently, be seen as attempt to stifle free speech and, in particular, an effort to curtail all questioning or criticism of religion.
Assumptions of Islamophobia:
There are several assumptions that are often found within the logics of Islamophobia:
- Muslims are a monolithic group with static views, beliefs and practices. Such a stance ignores the huge diversity between Muslims in terms of beliefs, practices, ideologies, ethnicities, cultures, languages and values.
- Muslims are not only different, but this difference also makes them inferior; uncivilized, irrational, violent and sexist. As such, they have no place in the “civilized” West unless they denounce their barbaric and illogical ways in order to progress to an enlightened Western way of life.
- Racial discrimination is normalized within political and public debate as something deemed necessary due to the perceived threat of Muslims to security. Moreover, prejudiced and racist comments about Muslims have increasingly become normalized. Rather than being considered bigoted and inappropriate, such views are frequently seen as justified and normal.
- Western commentators are justified in criticizing Muslim individuals and countries for their beliefs, practices, policies and behaviors; however, the reverse is unjustified and baseless.
Islamophobia, racism and anti- Semitism:
While animosity towards the religion is frequently used as a justification for Islamophobic sentiments, this hostility is also a product of animosity towards race, ethnicity and culture. In this way, Muslims have become collectively racialized through their religious identities. Therefore, rather than viewing Islamophobia in a vacuum, it is important to view it through the lens of racisms. As Recent reports attests, Islamophobia should be understood as an anti-Muslim racism.
Racial and Religious Hate Crimes:
Hate crime is in many ways the most overt, visible, and undeniable symptom of the Islamophobia prevalent across certain segments of society. Over recent years, British Muslims have suffered from increasing levels of hate crime in conjunction with seemingly obsessive demonization in the media and an increasing presence of online hate speech on social media platforms. Major socio-political events, such as terror attacks and the EU referendum, often mobilize acts of hostility towards Muslims and the impacts of these crimes are long-lasting, with many victims left feeling anxious and fearful for their safety.
In tackling anti-Muslim hate crimes, it is important to address the disparity in protections afforded by the Racial and Religious Hate Crime Act, 2006, on grounds of race verses the protections afforded to religious groups. At the same time, effective strategies and primary legislation need to be enacted to tackle online hate speech whilst protecting freedom of speech.
How to Tackle Islamophobia?
It is imperative that the Government commits to an independent review of PREVENT and all counter-terrorism legislation enacted since 2000 with a view to curbing the encroachment of counter-terrorism policies on civil liberties.
Incitement to Religious Hatred legislation:
Considering the disparities between the protections afforded for racial and religious hatred, it is essential to review the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act with a view to strengthening legal protection afforded to religion and equalize it with those granted to race.
Primary legislation to deal with social media offences and online hate speech:
The Government should consider primary legislation to deal with social media offences and work with social media companies to protect free speech while developing an efficient strategy to tackle online hate speech online.