Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Islamophobia ( photo courtesy of this source)

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.

Exhibit 2:

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.


Mitchell said...

Welcome back!

APN said...

I am the Arab Press Network at the World Association of Newspapers.
Can you please send me your email?
Mine is

Maya M said...

For me, this post was very difficult to understand, because you took for granted that Islamophobia is bad, while for me as an Islamophobe this is at least disputable. Of course taking the most disputable thing as 100%granted is a very mighty tool of rhetorics, but I feel you are not rhetorical here.
So I failed to grasp your exact point - do you say that there is no rational reason for non-Muslims to fear Muslims, or that non-Muslims shouldn't fear ANY Muslim for moral reasons, or that non-Muslims are free to fear Islamist terrorists but not other Muslims?
I would have what to say in either case, but without knowing which one is your point, I'd prefer not to construct a strawman and fight it.
I disagree with you that media "overblow" Islamist violence and even plain crimes with Muslim perpetrators. On the contrary, my impression is that media try their best to report such cases on corners of internal pages with the smallest font available. I learn such news not from mainstream media but from Islamophobic and other non-media sites.
You quote that an Islamophobic British guy who piled an arsenal to attack Muslims was "all but unreported". Was another British guy, Nicky Reilly, who DID use a bomb against non-Muslims, widely reported?
Was the Muslim who bombed German trains widely reported?
Are Muslim cab drivers and shopkeepers who attack blind people because of their service dogs widely reported?
I would also say that you need not pity the Islamophobes. Of course I was happier when I wasn't an Islamophobe. Now I often feel facing the demise of my civilization, like the characters of Asimov's "Long Night". With the difference that they knew at least that day should come again and civilization would be rebuilt. But for me, even the harsher truth is better than even the most pleasant delusion, so there is no reason to pity those who know an unpleasant truth.

Maya M said...

"Before you come and tell me about... 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."
Highlander, do you claim that there is never a legitimate reason to bash a group of people having a common denominator? This seems to me quite a serious claim.
Will you say that we shouldn't bash Nazis, Communists and other supporters of totalitarism, no matter what disasters their pet ideologies have brought to mankind?
Talking about sport fans, do you think supporters of OJ Simpson are OK or shouldn't be bashed even if they aren't?
My personal opinion is that if somebody finds a group of humans threatening for reason(s) seeming rational, he not only could but should express his opinion, and political correctness please go to Hell.
What is bad or dangerous in an individual cannot by magic turn to good if spread over a large group of people.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say this Highlander, but if you want to see what the West is starting to think of your people, just Google the term "Rage Boy". It's not pretty.

Curt from Houston

Curt from Houston said...

"Martyn Gilleard, a Nazi sympathiser in East Yorkshire, was jailed for 16 years."

Oh come on Highlander!

First clue: Nazi sympathiser

The guy is a certifiable nut job.

Second clue: ...was jailed for 16 years.

Seems like we're doing a pretty good job taking out our own trash. Now how about you guys doing the same with some of your own lunatic Mullahs. You know , like the ones that preach that all Jews are pigs and apes and advocate exterminating all of them down to the last man, woman and child.

Benghazi Citizen said...

Interesting piece of work i actually enjoyed reading...
Movies industry ,news ,media and rumors are great participant in this trend of islamophobia..
it seems now that it is very acceptable to display in media what they think the (real picture of arabs and muslims are)..
it became unacceptable to make fun ,or make racist remarks against other ethnicities,,but arab and muslims seem a good enough target for such people
but at least this may helps other ,who are curious about the truth,to seek it
best regards

Highlander said...

Mitchell :) Thank you for always being there.

Maya M thank you for your comments, you're looking at some interesting facets but I thought my post was clear.

Curt from Houston, thanks for the tips, Rage Boy was enlightening and demonstrated that I was being even more naive then I thought .. this is so reminiscent of what is now commonly known as antisemitism.

Behgazi Citizen, thank you ya khuyi glad you enjoyed it :)

The Libyan Warrior said...

Great Post Highlander!

this is so reminiscent of what is now commonly known as antisemitism.

You hit the nail right on the head. It seems that the western worlds ancient hatred towards the 'semetic other' has been reignited by its recent encounter with Ishmael.

Maya M said...

It isn't clear to me, it may be clear to other Muslims. What I can collect is that you don't, and won't under ANY circumstances, cast a shadow over the virtues of Islam. This is a giant difference in worldview between Muslims and non-believers. I am not sure about believers of other religions; it seems to me that most of them, while not doubting the virtues of their religion as they understand it, don't (in our time) expect or demand from other people to have the same attitude. So we have a transparent but unpenetrable wall separating Muslims from non-Muslims and explaining why the only efficient contact between them is conflict.
Such things often bring me to desperation, as you may have sensed. I begin to think that Dale Carnegie was right, stating in his "How to win friends and influence people" that criticism is never to any avail because people have innate immunity to criticism directed at them, no matter how reasonable it may be.
(I am sorry if I am too unclear; I intended to write a whole post about this, but have little time.)