Is Islamophobia Real?

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Islamophobia is a phenomenon widely associated with Muslims. It stimulates hate and fear against Muslims and their religion. This hatred has been witnessed for so long. It is directly related to false beliefs and prejudices toward Muslim identity. Islamophobia happens when anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim biases, discrimination, and hate crimes become a regular activity. When it integrated with political terms, it turned out as resistance against political Islam. It proposed a certain kind of behavior that is not in the favor of Muslims. The United Nations defines Islamophobia as, “A fear, prejudice, and hatred of Muslims or non-Muslim individuals that leads to provocation, hostility, and intolerance by means of threatening, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation of Muslims and non-Muslims, both in the online and offline world. Motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility that transcends into structural and cultural racism which targets the symbols and markers of a being a Muslim.”

The 9/11 attacks in the United States by Al-Qaeda gave rise to the anti-Islam movement. These attacks played an important role in developing and building a certain kind of perception against Muslims. This perception is totally based on prejudice. Public opinion and behavior toward Muslims got totally changed. They were considered terrorists.  Moreover, extremists used Islam to justify their terrorist activities. Islam was interpreted as a religion of threat, hate, fear and dislike. The terms, terrorism, and Muslim became synonymous. Since then, Muslim identity is under the shadow. They are considered the potential reason for terrorist activities around the globe. The widespread phenomenon—islamophobia—is, certainly, an outcome of hatred toward American Muslims. Resultantly, this behavior emerged in the shape of various turmoil being encountered by Muslims: Anti-Muslim movements. These movements define Islamic beliefs in a false manner.

Islamophobia has constituted racism in all spheres of life. This has been seen through a number of incidents targeting Muslims. It should be considered a true manifestation of racism. Racism is the main cause of disturbed Muslim identity. In addition to this, the Muslim identity is being reshaped by the West. The murder of a Muslim family in Canada on 8 June 2021 is clear evidence of anti-Muslim hate. This unfortunate incident happened only because of extended hate toward Muslims. Further, these types of incidents remained un-documented. The anti-Muslim hate has been increasing over time. In fact, Muslims are not being accepted as independent entities.

Islam has been misinterpreted by the West and in the global arena on a much larger level. Religion has been considered a hindrance in the way of an inclusive society. Islam is always associated with some negative attributes, for instance, the religion that induces terrorism. Anti-Islam is a process that recognizes Islam as homogenous: threatens Western civilization. Islamophobia shapes characters in a way that contains violence. Further, Islamic organizations are being abused. On 15 March 2019, mass shootings in two mosques in New Zealand convey hatred towards Islam explicitly. The predominant misinformation, on the part of Muslims, stimulates this. In the wake of this prejudiced behavior, Islamic manuscripts are being dealt with in a very disturbed manner.

In many European countries, the symbols of Islam are not tolerated at all. Religious manifestations have been targeted by the European societies. On 11 April 2011, France banned the Islamic veil. Muslim women face discriminatory actions and hatred more often. The Islamic veil has always been criticised as an obstacle for Muslims in the European countries.

Hate crime is the main reason which induces non-Muslims to commit wrong. Recently, the desecration of Holy Quran in Sweden on 22 January 2023 depicts the hatred toward Muslims and their sacred book. This act is racially and religiously influenced that totally ignored, nullified the Muslim identity. Some serious efforts are required to prohibit this kind of incidents. Political parties, governments, media and social organizations should play their role in this regard.

The media factor in presenting Islam-related issues cannot be ignored. After 9/11, media started portraying and conveying Islamic identity on the forefront. It promotes the stereotypical representation—anti-Muslim narrative—has induced hate. Further The European media remains stereotypical since 2001. The portrayal of Muslim women has been exploited by media. There is a sheer need to address the picture of Islam through this medium of communication because Muslims, in foreign lands, has been considered as aliens and danger to the Western culture. So, media should adopt effective strategies to counter the phenomenon of islamophobia. There should be some inclination towards balanced journalism while dealing with issues like Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia is relatively a new term, but the curiosity to comprehend the concepts like anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic was always there. Since this phenomenon is real, hence the Muslim Ummah must own unity, and should convey their religion in an effective, influential manner. If they fail, the cost would be huge.

Author profile

Asifa Noreen
NA-112 Toba Tek Singh-II
17th Youth Parliament Pakistan

Asifa has completed her M.Phil from GCU Faisalabad and is keen to learn about the functioning of the government and its policies through the forum of the 17th YPP. She would like to contribute towards the development of Pakistan in future and for that she believes that the YPP will help her hone her leadership skills and potential. She is a member of the Youth Standing Committee on Foreign Relations – I (South Asia).