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Islamophobia – myth or reality?

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.

8 comments

  • Rufus Lee King

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

    And are we to get to the crux when those of us examining the core ideology of Islam, the words and actions of Muhammed, to better understand the basis for the destruction we are witnessing at home and globally, are simply dismissed as phobic? Irrationally fearful?

    All these lists of trailts seem to pretend to assess symptoms of crimes against Islam and against world understanding. I see some attributes listed, of course, that I would agree are unacceptable, like considering each and every follower of Muhammed evil. And I see others that I think are not only acceptable but responsive to a duty to protect one’s people and country from further attack, like seing Islam and its scripture as a political ideology, being used for political or military advantage.

    Since I, who consider myself a rational Islam-alarmist, who dares to consider the unmentionable crimes and edicts of Muhammed, thereby have one or more of these listed taboos, I will be subjected to the namecalling and dismissal as “phobic”, mentaly ill. which is alleged will let us understand the crux of the problem.

  • Rufus:
    In reply to your
    “who dares to consider the unmentionable crimes and edicts of Muhammed”

    Please read this again if you must:
    “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.”

    There is nothing wrong in doing any constructive criticism pinpointing the trouble areas of any religion as I believe that:

    “No belief and no practice, rational or irrational, scientific or divinely inspired, should be exempt from analysis and examination. If a belief is sound it will stand on its own merits. If it is unsound it deserves to fail. No-one pretending to speak for a religion should seek immunity from an examination of their claims, nor seek freedom from moral criticism of their practices.”

  • UA

    Razwan,

    I mostly agree, but I don’t think it’s very helpful to create a category of Political Islam and then lump there every Muslim whose beliefs extend into the social arena. Islam, after all, is a religion that is very much concerned with the social and the political, and not every Muslim who holds political positions is a ‘bad’ Muslim. We don’t want to deny Muslims a political identity, now, do we? Granted, there ARE some political positions that are unsustainable, but there are also Muslims who can call themselves Muslims AND be firm supporters of democracy, human rights, anti-imperialism, etc. The issue gets complicated when it is non-Muslims who get to define (at the level of public discourse) who is a good or a bad Muslim based on his or her politcs (for an interesting paper on this, you may want to see http://www.ithaca.edu/faculty/abarlas/talks/20040221_Utah.pdf).

    Also, anyone who begins by referring to the “unmentionable crimes and edicts of Muhammed,” is, yes, begging to be called phobic. It’s funny how people who begin with insulting positions that make dialogue impossible will then turn around and feel victimized when someone points out their phobia.

  • Rufus Lee King

    I think these aspects of Islam’s core ideology wherein Muhammed, in the Koran and Hadiths. endorses terrorism by name and by example, is obviously being treated as an “unmentionable” by dismissive labelling rather than persuasively shown to be irrelevant or misperceived as a core ideology in an open discussion.

    So in this dynamic, I see the diagnosis of Islamaphobia more of a barricade to good faith understanding of each others’ positions than a meaningful assessment of mine.

    Should you like me to list some of the examples of what I feel most would consider crimes and deplorable edicts of Muhammed, I would be happy to. If it is too insulting to look at how his specific commands are being cited by mass homicidal followers of him all over the world as the basis of their actions, or insulting to be asked to distinguish the Muslim religion’s true aims from them, I would also point out that it is insulting to be killed as a direct result of them.

  • Rufus Lee King

    “The issue gets complicated when it is non-Muslims who get to define (at the level of public discourse) who is a good or a bad Muslim based on his or her politcs (for an interesting paper on this, you may want to see…”

    Razwan

    I read the paper. I found the first half to be dominated by an attribution of Islam’s problems to American injustice and oppression, without examples, except the Iraq War.

    By the way, I take issue with the usual claim of irrelevancy between Iraq and 9/11. 9/11 was perpetrated by Al Qaeda. And Al Qaeda was being nurtured by Iraq and helped to acquire WMDs in its joint Al Qaeda-Iraq VX nerve gas facility in Sudan. Our War on Terror coming out of 9/11 is all abount bringing Al Qaeda’s and other terrorists’ hosts and allies to account.

    The second part of the paper had alot of favorable statements about how the Koran really stands for moderation, feminine equality and other virtues, again without any examples.

    I think refusing to talk about examples of one’s accusations or claims of virtue is an ineffective technique for communicating an understanbding of those assessments. So I offer my explanation of the nexis between Iraq and 9/11. And I attempt to get at the specific greivances I take from the Koran. And, by the way, as a victim of Muslim aggression on 9/11 and elsewhere, and even more widespread Muslim acquiescence to that aggression, I think the United States sits in a fair role to state whom they feel are good and bad Muslims concerning the United States.

  • Rufus Lee King

    I see I should have addressed the above to UA.

  • deteodoru

    Below is an impression I would love to share, particularly with Jewish members on this list. It is a most disturbing impression that can only be ameliorated through collegial discourse, in my view. So I offer it to this list in hope of promoting discussion instead of slander. Reason can change my views as they are fraught with alarm that would appreciation pacification.

    The “Big Red Scare” days of the Cold War were heady days, especially for the once Leninist neocons turned anti-Red propagandists publishing in CIA sponsored media directed at the Left. But those days are gone and many rich careers made in the Conservative Movement fighting the “Red Menace” came to a crashing end. Trade names for think-tanks, publications, publishing houses and other assets could be bought for a nickle on the dollar as the Corporate Establishment and CIA ceased funding of the “Red Scare” propaganda machine and the well payed “experts” had to scramble in search of real jobs.

    Many proved to be as good at scholarship and writing as at their past trade of scare propaganda and they found a niche for themselves in academia. But for the neocons it proved business as usual, for they were able to move from the “Big Red Scare” to the “Big Green Scare.” Green is the color of Islam and the neocons managed to parley venture capital from right-wing Zionist extremist entrepreneurs into a “War on Terror” fighting the new Islam scare. Indeed, deeming the Cold War “World War III,” they declared “World War IV” on Islam:
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/podhoretz.htm

    To be sure, the internationally waged Zionist campaign to label all Islamists “Jihadists” is not new. In its desperate effort to impede global recognition of the Palestinians as a people with national aspirations, the Israeli Government funded lavishly with American aid-funds all sorts of front organizations that depicted every act of terror a tactical battle in the GLOBAL Islamist War on the West. Recently, Israeli operative Bernard Lewis was honored on his 90th birthday as the first to warn of a new war of the worlds– to the death– between Islam and Christianity which they say he dubbed, a Clash of Civilizations, not Huntington, the author of a book by the same name. Nowhere was his past personal history as agent of an interested party ever mentioned, after all, a basic tenet of this operation is the “Don’t show, don’t tell” inability on the part of us “dumb goyim” Christians to recognize the bias behind his “scholarship.”

    To be sure, the neocons would be quick to point out, 9/11 has more than signaled the existence of such a “clash of civilizations.”– but with ALL of Islam? Here again, as in their past Cold War propaganda, the neocons relied on their true and tried tactic of “don’t show, don’t tell,” for we are deemed “dumb goyim” who will not look behind the blaring slogans. The fact is that we, the Christian World, came to Islam to conquer it after it had collapsed as a power, not the other way around. And, armed by Stalin, European Jews created out of nothing the state of Israel. Instead of making the Germans pay for the Holocaust, we, in fact, made the Arabs pay and pay dearly; the most helpless Palestinians, according to Benny Morris, the Zionist historian, suffered a cruel invasion that caused some more idealistic Israelis to name it “Zionazi” for its exterminationist tactics of ethnic cleansing. That 1948 event is, right or wrong, at the root
    of 9/11, as well as our imperial protection of our “cheap oil” through corrupt regimes we back and protect against their own subjects.

    Through parthenogenesis (eg. self-replication) a plethora of organization was created by a hand full of neocons, much as they did as one time Leninists, to give the impression of a heterogeneous “united front” of view points. For them, 9/11 was not as much of a God-sent as was the coalition they managed to make with the Fundamentalist Christians who believe that the Day of Rapture will only come AFTER Israel comes to dominate the Middle East. Coalition with these “Christian Zionists” (though for reasons that can be considered nothing more than an extension of their anti-Semitic position) proved to be like a Stalinist Coup per the 1936 Dimitrov designed “united front” that, “neutralizes our enemies and brings them to the service of our cause.”

    Using the Cold War Era and the opportunist Senator Jackson of Washington State, who really thought the neocons would bring him to the presidency, (his hopes were dashed by a massive and fatal coronary) they campaigned for bigger is better strategic weapons and thus in an influence peddling scheme linked the massive American military-industrial complex– that Eisenhower was so weary of– with that of Israel. There was plenty of money to be made and, to date, none of the neocons nor their progeny suffers from poverty. But, the end of the Cold War seemed to put all that in jeopardy; that is, until 9/11 brought an end to the unachievable sure-fire ABM System and gave cause for a “transformation” of the US military into a global Christian Expeditionary Force chasing Jihadists all over the globe and promoting– they hoped– Israeli domination of the Middle East:
    http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/archive/1990s/instituteforadvancedstrategicandpoliticalstudies.htm

    But note, no sooner did we reach achievement of one such venture in our war on terror that we abandoned it unaccomplished for yet another. Hence, the masters of 9/11/2001 are still alive and free, today mid-2006, still directing alQaeda in its terrorizing of the world. After all, there’s little to be gained from ending the source of the scare!

    In the meantime, the “Big Green Scare” propaganda is in full swing. For example, the same neocon Hudson Institute that championed more-is-better nuclear armaments for the war against the Big Red Scare is now promoting “expert and great scholar” on Islam Bat Yo’er, an Israeli who lives in Switzerland (like many neocons living in “anti-Semite” Europe instead of the “safe homeland” Israel), from where she propagates the concept of “EURABIA,” which means that Europe has already been taken by Islam because of its inherent weaknesses: (1) anti-Jewish nature and (2) loss of Christian zeal to destroy Islam. Now if that doesn’t sound like an obvious attempt to kill two birds with one stone, I don’t know what does. As Anne Norton notes in her book, ” Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire,” Yale university Press, there is an ongoing a full-court-press anti-Semitic campaign against Arabs and Islam in general, run by the neocons, which I would dub the “Big Green Scare.”

    This campaign has yet another motive: fear that as more and more Islamics settle and succeed in America, they will acquire the economic wherewithal to match the “Israel Lobby” that Mearsheimer and Walt wrote about in their study– but this AIPAC with “I” for “Islam” instead of “Israel”– one seeking to sway Congress, not on Israel’s behalf as does AIPAC, but on behalf of Islam. Such “dumb goyim” are deemed the Christian Americans in Congress, that the neocons fear that, once the Arabs acquire a foothold in American politics, they will draw Congress away from Israel.

    It is most instructive to read how the Neocon Establishment responded to the Mearsheimer and Walt analysis of the Israel Lobby and what is fomented by these neocons– or through their “friends”– about Islam in order to feed the Big Green Scare; it is utter ANTI-SEMITISM!!!

    Here is one sample of the way the case is made:
    part 1
    http://www.reportingwar.com/esman032006.shtml
    part 2
    http://www.reportingwar.com/esman041006.shtml

    and below is the URL for the Mearsheimer and Walt article that caused such a stir:
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html
    which was so vitriolically denounced by ADL as follows:
    http://www.adl.org/Israel/mearsheimer_walt.asp

    So, it would seem, Ye’or on “Eurabia” is O.K. but Mearsheimer and Walt on AIPAC is “anti-Semitic.” I leave you all to contemplate and further research what’s behind the BIG GREEN SCARE.

    Daniel E. Teodoru

  • MickeyD

    Do you still think that Islam is a piece loving Religion? See what are beloved Muslims are doing nowadays to infiltrate the West?……….http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/terrorism.php?id=1325399

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