What Is Islamophobia?
Islamophobia, or anti-Muslim sentiment, is a contrived fear or prejudice against Muslims rooted in the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations. Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.
The term Islamophobia was first coined as a concept in a Runnymede Trust Report from the 1990's where Islamophobia was defined as an unfounded hostility and fear of all or most Muslims. Justification for Islamophobia stems from the ignorant ideology that Islam is incapable of conforming to new realities; it does not share common values with other major faiths; Islam is seen as a religion that is inferior to the west and is archaic, barbaric, and irrational; Islam is a religion of violence and it supports terrorism; and Islam is a violent political ideology. (Islamophobia, 2015).
Perpetuations of Islamaphobia
Various works of literature have perpetuated the ideology behind Islamophobia. Samuel Huntington, an influential political scientist released his paper, "Clash of Civilizations" in which he theorized that peoples cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world (Huntington, 1996). Huntington's theory marginalizes the muslim and eastern nations, orientalizing them and allowing for the clear distinction of Islam vs. The West. This kind of ideology encouraged Islamophobic sentiment.
Edward Said was a literary theorist and public intellectual who presented the "Clash of Ignorance" as a rebuttal to Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations." Said provides a critical response to Huntington's thesis, in which Said asserts that the uses of labels such as "the West" and "Islam" are dangerous and serve to confuse about a disorderly reality. The irresponsible use of such labels has produced a climate of ignorance between the so-called "West" and "Islam," this ignorance is the fundamental cause of conflict (Said, 2001).
Islamophobia in Law
Dr. Bazian explained in his Islamophobia course at UC Berkeley, that law is born out of social conditions. In a post 9/11 culture, todays law constantly threatens Muslim's, Arabs, South East Asians, and African Americans as the guilty party. These parties are not necessarily given due process of law in the American judicial system. Unlike white parties, these groups are seen as guilty until proven innocent. The law is used systematically to harass Muslim community in the same way COINTELPRO was used to attack and intimidate African American organizations.
Post 9/11 U.S. law has become a function of national security. There has been an increase in preemptive prosecution, meaning that the crime hasn't been committed by an individual however because of their ethnic and religious identity, law enforcement assumes they are more inclined to take part in terrorist activity. The FBI conducts arrests and raids on organizations related to these marginalized groups with the intentions of ending the organizations and shutting down the individuals involved. The arrests and constant attacks on these organizations guarantees negative news coverage of the particular Muslim community which in turns creates a general fear, panic, and media frenzy (Bazian, 2015).
To learn more about the annual Islamophobia Conference click below
To further understand the perpetuations of Islamaphobia watch Edward Saids "The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations"
Cartoon depicting the reality behind Islamophobic perpetuations of Muslims and labeling them all as extremists when that is not the case.