Islamophobia : The rise of the extreme right and xenophobic movements fuel radicalism

Islamophobia The rise of the extreme right and xenophobic movements fuel radicalism

Islamophobia The rise of the extreme right and xenophobic movements fuel radicalism

Although the fear known as “Islamophobia” emerged across the globe in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, its roots go back to the Crusades, or even earlier. Islam has now spread across the world: Muslims represent 6 percent of the population of Europe, more than 45 million. By 2050, Muslims are estimated to make up some 20 percent of the population and one in five people in Europe will be a Muslim—one of the main reasons for the rise in Islamophobia among Europeans in recent years.

However, the real trigger behind the rise in Islamophobia is the radical terrorist groups that have emerged in the name of Islam. These radical organisations, with their perverse mind-sets, far removed from the essence of Islam, have caused a great deal of fear and hatred of Islam.

Various circles opposed to Islam have also played a stunningly effective role in planting this fear into people’s minds and this has led to a virtual cottage industry of Islamophobic talk and activities and to the emergence of a security, intelligence and industrial apparatus worth trillions of dollars. This industry is intended to prevent the rise of the Islamic world, which possesses economic and financial power centres, major energy resources and underground wealth.

The policies adopted by Western governments, especially after September 11th, which generally targeted Muslims, and the laws passed in that context, accelerated the growth of Islamophobia. Extreme right-wing parties played a major role in encouraging opposition to Islam. These parties use Islamophobic speech to gather votes, grow strong on the back of it and target Muslim migrants in particular.

Muslim migrants in Europe have to strive against xenophobia as well as Islamophobia. The ethnocentric mentality that regards them as different and excludes and despises them and subjects them to both physical and psychological attacks on the grounds that migrants threaten their cultural and social lives, is on the rise in many European countries. Attacks along the lines of physical beatings, stones thrown at mosques and workplaces, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, the beating of employers and workers, swastikas and insulting slogans being written on walls, the vandalism of cemeteries, attacks on homes and families being beaten and threatened with verbal harassment, are some of the things that Muslims in Europe are frequently subjected to.

However, like all other migrants, Muslims are people who leave their own homes and seek to integrate into the countries they go to, making great economic contributions to their new societies. Discrimination and hostility toward them is wholly incompatible with human rights and modern democracy, as well as being unjust and intolerant.

However, it would be equally wrong to consider hostility toward Islam and Muslims in Europe as a single category. People who think that Muslims are taking jobs and other benefits away from Westerners, those who deliberately play on these concerns to encourage hostility toward Islam and Muslims, or those who think that increasing numbers of Muslims will eliminate Christianity and/or degenerate Western culture and those who equate Islam with terror and radicalism must all be considered separately.

There is only one way of overcoming all these fears; true Muslims must describe their faith with patience and moderation and explain and show that an Islam purged of all nonsense is modern, compatible with science, democracy and logic, enlightened, progressive, opposes terror and commands love, brotherhood and peace. They must explain that Muslims have no intention of doing away with Christianity and that the Qur’an praises Christians. They must explain that the mentality equated with terrorism, slaughter and suicide attacks, that is against art, science and all beauty and that is hostile to other faiths derives not from Islam, but from deluded and badly misguided fanatics.

The West, which boasts of the importance it attaches to democracy and human rights and how it treats all beliefs equally, also has a major responsibility: The first thing the West needs to do is introduce legal measures against Islamophobic and racist activities. Islamophobia must be regarded as a hate crime in the same way that anti-Semitism is. The West’s priority must be to develop a culture based on love, respect, friendship and brotherhood, without despising those who are not from it. Western countries, international organisations and civil society organisations must urgently demonstrate sensitivity on this subject. It is a matter of the greatest urgency in terms of world peace for new legislation to be introduced and for the public to be educated so new generations are freed of these prejudices.

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