Written by: Dania Ahmed
It is not new for various religious groups living within a single society to have ideological differences. In the most recent decades, Europe and North America have had questionable associations with Islam and Muslims. The increase in migration rates, the issues of integration of Muslims into the secular Western society, and the 9/11 fear monger assaults have all amplified the current strains between the Christian and Islamic societies, prompting the development of Islamophobia. Islamophobia is defined as the “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.” (Oxford Dictionaries)
The stakeholders in this issue can broadly be identified as everyone, from Muslims, to Non-Muslims, to the ordinary citizen, to politicians, to faith leaders and so on. Islamophobia affects everybody whether they have been a victim, witness, or perpetrator to it. Specifically, focus can be put on two major stakeholders being the everyday Muslims and those who seek to oppress them. Muslims in this issue would like any and all kinds of religious discrimination to be eradicated. Muslims feel that this kind of oppression is manifesting itself widely across the globe and that effective actions must be taken against it. In general, what Muslims want is for society to be aware that their faith does not pose a threat to anyone, nor does it promote violence or terrorism. The word Islam itself means “peace”. (Peace and Islam).
Muslims feel an increasing sense of fear because of Islamophobic occurrences all over the world. For example, Muslim females have been targeted with many reports of hijabs, a religious head garment, being ripped off their heads exposing their hair. A teacher in Nashville did this to one of her students and posted the video on Snapchat. (NBC4 Washington) A Melbourne Muslim women was the victim of this type of assault on a train. (Smith). Not only this, but in April of 2018, a challenge entitled, “Punish A Muslim Day” began to circulate social media encouraging users to partake and assault any Muslim on the basis of a point system. (Dearden).
The other stakeholders in the issue being those in favor of Islamophobia, want Muslims to be heavily regulated and watched over to prevent terrorism. Those who believe Islamophobia is rational want to be “safe” from any Islamic ideologies and would also benefit from Muslims abandoning their faith and practices (Marshall). These stakeholders feel this way because of the negative media attention Islam has received. There is seldom any news reporting the kindness of a Muslim, but when an extremist commits atrocious acts the words “Islam” “Muslim” and “Terrorist” are always synonymously tied together in the media. These stakeholders also feel this way because they are uneducated on Islam’s true teachings as well as lack religious tolerance.
Obstacles that are preventing the resolution of this issue is the massive communication gap between the two major stakeholders. Muslims are not effectively getting the true message of Islam out to those who fear it. But, those who instigate Islamophobia are also believing things about Islam that have no basis in fact, or are taken out of context. Another obstacle preventing the resolution of this issue is the media. The media must begin to portray Islam in a positive light, as to not fill people’s minds into believing that violence and Islam are equivalent in meaning. The media also has a responsibility to not significantly emphasize the fact that a terrorist claims to follow the religion of Islam. Constantly putting out the message of Islamic ties to terrorism encourages the onrushing stripping and dignity of thought from the average citizen’s life in an attempt to foster Islamophobic feelings in them.
Islamophobia includes seeing Islam as a second rate culture contrasted with the Western, as a brutal, forceful, radical, and authoritarian perspective that cannot be assimilated with Western secular culture nor peacefully coexist with it. Interestingly, the term “phobia” alludes to the fact that a large portion of these attitudes are fairly irrational, with individuals seeing each Muslim as a potential Islamic fundamentalist, conveying a danger to the comfortable existence of Western values, ways of life, and liberal philosophy.
Oxford Dictionaries. “Islamophobia | Definition of Islamophobia in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/islamophobia.
Peace and Islam. “Islam Is a Religion of Love and Peace.” Peace and Islam, Fountain Magazine, www.peaceandislam.com/.
NBC4 Washington. “Teacher Pulls Off Student’s Hijab at Fairfax County School.” NBC4 Washington, NBC4 Washington, 17 Nov. 2017, www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Student-Teacher-Ripped-Hijab-Off-My-Head-at-School-458071843.html.
Smith, Rohan. “Woman Charged after Racist Train Incident.” NewsComAu, Victoria News, 13 Jan. 2019, http://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/woman-arrested-charged-after-racist-incident-involving-two-women-and-a-child/news-story/73d2194ab1888debf5dba50fec7e9ccd.
Dearden, Lizzie. “’Punish a Muslim Day’ Letters Suspect Charged with Soliciting Murder.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 15 June 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/punish-a-muslim-day-letters-david-parnham-charged-arrested-sent-a8401316.html.
Marshall, David. “Fear of Islam Is Rational. It’s Not Islamophobia.” The Stream, The Stream, 18 Mar. 2017, stream.org/am-i-an-islamophobe/.