By: Dr. Zakarya Mohamed Abdel-hady
Chair of Dawa and Islamic Culture Department
Prejudice against Islam ana Muslims in many Westrern societies has taken new dimensions and shape in recent years. Islam and its followers are being maligned. The systemic distortion of Islam and Muslims is no longer a minor irritant that can be ignored.
This paper intends to discuss those new dimensions. The research has conceptual framework defining the term of islamophobia, understanding its dangers, creating an awarness of islamophobia and finalty cahalengging islamophobia. This in turn, sets a paradigm shift needed for the wgole society to change the status quo of Islamophobia. Despie the fact that Islamophobia is a world-wide concerning issue, this reserah will focus mainl on Britain.
Some of those who have made a study of the phenomenon i.c.<Islamophobia>, indicate thereby that the campaingn has its root in a morbid fear os Islam and that, in course of time; itwill arouse the same fear in the public mind. The end result, they belive, will be the creation of a climate of hatred and distaste for everthing Islami in these societies. This observation is not a case over-sensitivity on the part of Muslims. In fact, this problem has intensified as a result of the events following September 11th 2001. A number of Westren thinkers and intellectuals have begun addressing the problem and warning their people of its consequnences. In addition, initiatives were also recorded to counteract the negative responses arising out from it.
When Prince Charles, in a speech on spirituality and science at Wilton Park in December 1996, called for building bridges between Islam and the West, there were widespread Islamophobia critisms to his views in the press. Most coverage, such as Daily Telegraph ignored what he had said about modern science anda about spairtuality, and instead focoused on topics he had not referred to at all, such as imigrayion or aspects of geo-politis.
Islamophobia and its feature:
What is islamophobia?. There are many definitions os isalmophobia. Consequently, a group of British experts in race relations announced their decision to set up a special commission to study and analyse <Islamopohobia>, as manisfested in the British media in particular. The commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia wan established in 1995 by the Runnymede Trust. Its report, <Islamophonia: a challenge for us all>, was published in 1957 and launched at the House of Commons by the Home Secretary then Jac Straw. According to the report, Islam is percept as essentially a threat, both in the worl at large and within in particular. They mentioned Islam as a successor to Nazim and Communism, and it contains imagery of both invasion and infiltration. I <is referring to dread or hatred of Islam-and therefore, to fear or dislike of all or most Muslims. Such dtread and dislike have existed in Westren countries and cultures for several centuries. In the last twenty years; however, the dislike has become more extreme and more dangerous.
The Runnymede report also said that <The word ‘Islamophobia’ has been coined because thera is a new reality, which needs naming. Anti-Muslim prejuudies has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary in needed so that it can be will not in itself prevent tragic conflict and misue. But, we believe, it can play a valuable part in the attempt of correcting perceptions and improving relationship.
In addition, Islamophobia cannot be separated from the problem of anti-Muslim racism. As such, Islamophobia is not restricted to a hatred os Islam, but also prejudice and hatred directed against people who are or who are perceived to be Muslim. Anti-Muslim prejudice and racism is based upon claims that Islam in an’inferior’ religion and a threat to the the dominant values of society. It may be evident in relation treatment of Muslim communities by non-Muslim individuals, groups such as; direct verval or physical attacks againt individuals and other civic rights and entitlements; cultural or religious insentitvity which serves to exclude Muslim people from exercising their rights as citizens.
Islamophobi has a number of featrures. To understand these feature, the Runnymede report, suggests drawing a key distinction between open and closed views of Islam. Phobic dread os Islam is the recurring characteristic of closed views as well as legitimate diagreenebt abd criticism, as also appreciatiob and respect, are aspects of open views.
They itemize eight main features of closed views, and contrast them in each instance with eight main features of open views as summaries in the following table. These include the portrayal of Muslim cultures as nist, fundamentalist and potentially threatening to other cultures. As the report calims,<the expression of anti-Muslim ideas and sentiments is increasingly respectable>..
Link to send via email/instant messenger: