Islamophobia (1000s- ) is a fear or hatred of Muslims, followers of the Prophet Muhammad. It sees “Muslims” as naturally violent and savage, as a threat. In the West it is common during periods of history when it is at war in Muslim countries, like during the Crusades (1095-1291) and since the fall of the Soviet Union (1991- ).
It is sometimes applied to people who merely “look” Muslim, like Arab Christians, Greek Orthodox priests, Sikhs and Hindus.
Hating or fearing someone based on their actions is rational. People are right to fear al-Qaeda or Boko Haram, for example. They have killed thousands of defenceless people!
But hating or fearing someone based on their religion is bigotry or prejudice.
How Islamophobia works:
- out-group: Sees Muslims as an out-group, a “them”, a Despised Other.
- out-group homogeneity: Sees all Muslims as the same, a fourth of all the people in the world, from Senegal to Egypt to Turkey to Indonesia. As if they belong to a hive mind. Or: they are divided into Good Muslims and Bad Muslims. (If a story has a “good” Muslim, it is almost certainly Islamophobic.)
- out-group derogation: Sees the worst of the Muslim world as what all Muslims are like, while it looks at the West in the best possible light. The bad qualities of the West are “failings”, those of the Muslim world are “features” that are due to religion. That is like blaming all the ills of the West on Christianity.
- confirmation bias: A few bad apples – or twisted “facts” – are all it takes for “proof”.
- Islamophobia is rooted in the heart, not the mind.
It follows the same pattern as White fear of Blacks in the US using crime as an excuse.
That means it is hard to talk someone out of it. Facts can only confirm their belief, never weaken it.
What can help to weaken Islamophobia is knowing people who are Muslim. It can make Islamophobia seem idiotic – because it is. Bad experiences with Muslims, though, can strengthen it.
Stuff to know:
- According to the FBI, only 6% of terrorist attacks on US soil between 1980 and 2005 were carried out by Muslims. Even Jews carried out more (7%).
- The US is shockingly ill-informed about the Muslim world, the scene of most of its foreign policy disasters since the Vietnam War. It is not just voters who lack a good, general knowledge, so do scholars and policymakers!
- The US pushed Islamism (political Islam) from 1958 to 1991 as a way to keep communists and socialists from coming to power.
- The US supported Saudi Arabia in spreading Wahhabism, its extreme form of Islam, as a way to fight communism.
- The US supported and trained jihadists to fight communism in Afghanistan. Thus Osama bin Laden.
- The US supports many of the governments in Muslim countries that oppose “Western values”.
- The scenes of torture carried out by the US at Abu Ghraib helped to turn a pizza deliveryman into one of the Charlie Hebdo killers.
– Abagond, 2015.
- Western values
- The three pillars of American white supremacy