In 1997 Islamophobia was defined as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination" [source]. In 2008 I would say the definition can incorporate harsher terms which are no better examplified than by this 'cartoon' forming the cover of the book Islamophobia Making Muslims the Enemy.Exhibit 1:
"Martyn Gilleard, a Nazi sympathiser in East Yorkshire, was jailed for 16 years. Police found four nail bombs, bullets, swords, axes and knives in his flat. Gilleard had been preparing for a war against Muslims...[..] The Gilleard case went all but unreported. Had a Muslim been found with an arsenal of weapons and planning violent assaults, it would have been a far bigger story.
There is a reason for this blindness in the media. The systematic demonisation of Muslims has become an important part of the central narrative of the British political and media class; it is so entrenched, so much part of normal discussion, that almost nobody notices. Protests go unheard and unnoticed."[source].
I would go so far to say that it is not only entrenched in Britain but in most of the so called West and its western allies , sympathisers and wannabes.
Remember the guy decapitating a fellow passenger on an intercity bus in Canada? A witness described that "the suspect had the victim on the floor of the bus and "was cutting his head off and pretty much gutting him." [source].
What did the authorities have to say ? I've looked at more than 30 news articles about this and all of them where either copy paste of this sentence or a variation thereof :
"Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day called the attack bizarre, but did not discuss details, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation." [source 2].
No mention of ethnicity or religion :) is that not strange. Also the disgusting act is labelled as BIZARRE !!! nooo is that the best you can do ? Now sit back and imagine that the murderer was Muslim or Arab or a combination of both :P the language would be more colourful and we would hear no end of it on blogs, news broadcast, international media and even the most obscure media in the West. I can visualise the title. Muslim Terrorist hacks head of innocent bus passenger! and you know what I would be erring on the side of conservatism. In fact I'm am waiting any time to hear that the murderer may have descended x-generation ago from Muslim stock just like Obama ;) ( no I won't get into this cartoon although it is highly relevant).
This is what Islamophobia has come too. !
On one of my trips a few months back (yes I still travel a lot but don't necessarily share with ye folks anymore :P) my eyes hungry for novel things to read were scanning the bookshelves at this store and fell on the cover of a book non other than the one I'm using above to illustrate Islamophobia. That one drawing was the summum in other words the 'sum of all fears'. So I bought the book. Most of what was in it was not news to me but still it was good to see that some people who were not necessarily Arab or Muslims had realised the extent of the problem. I felt no anger and no resentment but only pity tinged with a pinch of disappointment at people who are/have become Islamophobes and are fanning the fires of Islamophobia because they should know better since they have at their fingertips all the options of access to information. Before you come and tell me about the very informative website such as this one and similar hatred oriented propaganda, I will tell you that I do read those too and there are ones of the same calibre where you can switch 'Muslim' and 'Islam' for any other faith, skin colour, football fan movie star:) or anything you wish for on this planet and start bashing them.
"While “Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy” examines images of Muslims in media like TV and the movies, the strength of the book — and its focus — is its collection of cartoons published since 9/11, most of which portray Muslims unfavorably. The cartoons show violent, oversexed males, oppressed females, deceptive foreigners. The cartoonists, the authors argue, frequently conflate terrorist groups or the Taliban with Muslims or Arabs in general. [The authors] attempt to place the cartoons in a historical perspective dating to the Islamic conquests and the crusades. The illustrators, the authors write, “drew on images they associated with Islam, having inherited these conceptions from the Orientalist artistic legacy of the United States, as well as from impressions — perhaps latent — of Islam understood from European history.” [source].
Well as I said I read the book and the most significant paragraph for me was on page 2 of the introduction chapter that as a result of this rising Islamophobia, "Muslims in the West and elsewhere know that now as has been the case since the Era of the European imperialists ruled over most Muslims, what they think about Christians has far fewer consequences than what Westerners think about Muslims". On page 3 of the same book and interesting paragraph also caught my eye :
" If you are skeptical about the notion of Islamophobia, get a piece of paper and brainstorm. Write down, with as little thought and as much honesty as possible, all the words that come to mind when you think of the words "Islam" or "Muslim". What names, places, events, ideas, practices, and objects do you associate with these terms? "
What was the answer of most Americans who took this exercise ? Bin Ladin, 9/11 , Palestinians, jihad, veil, Sharia, Iran, Arabs... why ? because they conclude from the media portrayals that all this negativety must be reflecting the religion and its 'associated cultures'.
I decided to study the answers of my readers to such an exercise -not to root out the Islamophobes from the others ( I already know them anyway) but to compare notes and observe the extent of Islamophobia at play. Two months and 34 comments later and you have all proved my personal opinion.
A- Libyans/Muslims/Arabs :
Peace religion, great culture and civilisation, abused and misunderstood, some attempte dsatire :P
B- Westerners, and other non-Arabs and non Muslims subdivided into several subtypes:
(a) hardcore Islamophobes displaying stereotypical even taunting behaviour; with no intention of making an effort to learn. The ignorance and arrogance demonstrated was appaling.
(b) Plain Islamophobes - whom there is still hope to remedy what I could only call a form of discrimination/racism.
(c) Curious and enlightened individuals, seekers of the hidden truth beyond the obvious, willing to learn and see the other side
(d) People with an obviously multicultural non insular attitude.
I was thinking of answering each and everyone but then I changed my mind. Future posts and world events are bound to turn attitudes around, decrease or increase hatred and dismiss ignorance with knowledge.