July 23, 2005


Kenan Malik writes:

Ten years ago no one had heard of Islamophobia. Now everyone from Muslim leaders to anti-racist activists to government ministers want to convince us that Britain is in the grip of an irrational hatred of Islam - a hatred that, they claim, leads to institutionalised harassment, physical attacks, social discrimination and political alienation.

Now what is Islamophobia? Journalist Stephen Schwartz says notwithstanding the arguments of some Westerners, Islamophobia exists; it is not a myth. Islamophobia consists of:

• attacking the entire religion of Islam as a problem for the world;
• condemning all of Islam and its history as extremist;
• denying the active existence, in the contemporary world, of a moderate Muslim majority;
• insisting that Muslims accede to the demands of non-Muslims (based on ignorance and arrogance) for various theological changes, in their religion;
• treating all conflicts involving Muslims (including, for example, that in Bosnia-Hercegovina a decade ago), as the fault of Muslims themselves;
• inciting war against Islam as a whole.

(more definitions)

This phobia is derived from lack of understanding of Islamic culture, consistent tagging of terrorism with Islam and Islamic practices instead of criticizing political Islam.

Stephen also argues that the Wahhabi lobby in US engages in its own forms of profiling, which mainly consist of branding every opponent of Islamist radicalism an "Islamophobe." In addition, the charge often includes labeling of such critics as Jews, Zionists, and Israeli agents.

There are contradictory websites like Jihad Watch & Islamophobia Watch which are fueling the controversy.

The UN recognized Islamophobia as a growing problem and arranged a seminar titled "Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding" late last year.

According to the website 'No to Political Islam':

Many apologists for Political Islam claim that to criticize any aspect of Islamic practice is to be guilty of racism and Islamophobia. But much of the criticism is directed not against Islam itself but against Political Islam. And much of the criticism comes from Muslims. How then can this be racism? How then can it be Islamophobia?

It is essential to distinguish between criticism of Political Islam and either fear of Islam or fear, hatred or contempt for ordinary Muslims, who are themselves the victims of Political Islam.

So there are two faces of the menace 'Islamophobia'. One is the confused and ignorant hatred against ordinary Muslims which can trigger something like this and on the other hand the apologists of political Islam who do not want to hear any criticism for Islamic practices and term those criticisms as 'Islamophobic'.

The sooner we understand the crux of the matter, the better.


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