The scourge of Islamophobia,
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The secretarygeneral of the OIC explores the growing phenomenon of intolerance directed toward Muslims, and suggests possible methods to turn the tide of prejudice. The OIC views Islamophobia as a new form of racism, one characterized by
In 1848, while writing the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx sounded a warning that “a specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Communism.” A century and half later, in the 21st century, we are witnessing another specter haunting Europe, the specter of Islamophobia. The dictionary definition of phobia is a strong, irrational or very powerful fear and dislike of something. Going by this definition, Islamophobia would connote that Islam is a religion to be feared and its followers bracketed as potential sources of terror. This is not only absurd and fallacious, but is part of a notorious campaign of Western extremist right-wing individuals and groups, driven by a vitriolic antipathy toward an Abrahamic faith that has at its core the values of peace, compassion, tolerance and respect for other faiths. Furthermore, the element of fear in Islamophobia cannot be discounted when one considers its perpetrators are active in their efforts to instill fear among non-Muslims, motivating them to view Islam as a faith based on terror and evil. The resultant effect is that Muslims living in many Western societies are made to live in a constant state of fear of racial attack and discrimination.
Intolerance of Islam and Muslims is not novel in the West, where -- in one form or another -- it has a long history.
The terrorist act carried out by a group of people with Muslim names in 2001 -- what is otherwise known as Sept. 11 -- served the Islamophobes well, allowing them to exploit the incident to demonize Islam and subject Muslims to collective punishment. The fact that the Muslim world was loud in its condemnation of Sept. 11, that it categorically rejected terrorism in all forms and manifestations, and that Muslim states paid a heavy price for their rigid and staunch position against terrorism, did not receive due recognition in the Western world. Rather, the antiIslam and Muslim elements had their way in pursuing their agenda of hate, distorting the image of Islam and victimizing Muslims. The momentum in the anti-Islam campaign was kept alive by persistent publication of insulting material, including cartoons of Muslims’ holiest symbols, in the name of freedom of expression. The electronic and social media have also been handy tools in the globalization of the hate campaign and