The Rise of Islamophobia

Ayah Khatib, Journalist

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   Islamophobia is defined as the hatred and prejudice against Islam, a religion that is closely tied with Arabs. For example, an “Islamophobe” would assume that all Muslims are extremists, jihadists, and terrorists. Unfortunately, this society-wide discrimination is becoming a form of bigotry that is tolerated.

   A growing tide of Islamophobia has been impacting Muslims in the U.K. and U.S. recent years. Hate crimes shot up by seventy percent in 2015, significantly spiking to its highest since the 9/11 terror attacks.

   In Germany of the same year, a group named the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West organized a mass anti-Islam rally that had about 25,000 protesters. On their Facebook page, they urged citizens to recognize “the danger in Islamic ideologies.”

   Muslim women in particular are more vulnerable. France banned the use of face covering veils in 2011 as a measure of identification and public safety; however, the French government is only playing to the hands of those who believe women wearing Islamic garments is a sign of oppression or radicalism.

   This ban doesn’t collaborate with the ban on burkinis (swimwear that covers the whole body along with a hijab).”If you don’t want to live the way we do, don’t come,” argues Cogolin mayor Marc Etienne, “You have to behave in the way that people behave in the country that accepted you, and that is it.” He is just one of the 30 French mayors that have banned burkinis in response to fears of terrorism among communities, clearly not because it hinders proper identification.

   These bans also give an advantage to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS who want to use any excuse that the west hates Islam.

   There are many reasons why you wouldn’t see protests like this against Christians, Buddhists, or Catholics. One is from the California’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism argument that political rhetoric can play a role in the way Americans behave after terrorist attacks.

   In the report, author Brian Levin, compared George W. Bush’s speech of religious tolerance after 9/11 to Donald Trump’s speech calling for a moratorium on Muslims entering the country after the San Bernardino terror attack in 2015. The report showed a significant rise in reported hate crimes after Trump’s speech and a decrease after Bush’ speech.

   When politicians are running for office, or presidents spin fiction on the “threat of Islam”, it leads to spikes in discrimination. The most common Islamophobia in politics is on refugees and the encouragement of surveillance on Muslims. Republican candidate Ted Cruz called for police to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods as if Muslims will inevitably turn radical.

   Recently, a police squad known as the Demographics Unit was shut down in New York after the department’s new commissioner came into office. Undercover detectives were used to heavily monitor and spy on many Muslim communities. The squad would eavesdrop on conversations and build detailed reports of where Muslims ate, shopped, prayed.

   To say that Islamophobia is exaggerated in the U.S. is wildly inaccurate as hate crimes sometimes prove to be fatal. In 2015, three Muslims were murdered in North Carolina while in their homes during dinner. The perpetrator claimed it was over a traffic dispute, which law enforcement never questioned and dismissed the case. It was only until his sister, Suzanne Barakat, spoke out about how he was harassing them for weeks that this was determined a hate crime.

   In Pahrump, 2016, business owner Vic Ahmed came to his business one morning to find his building covered in derogatory Muslim slurs. He also reported a man who had threatened him and his family’s lives during multiple encounters. On both occasions, Ahmed said that police swept it under the rug and he never heard anything further.  

   “Ignorance,” Ahmed added. “Not all Muslims are bad, just like not all Christians are bad. Unfortunately, we have a president who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and he promotes hatred. I think people need to educate themselves and to be better informed, because Islam is not a religion of hatred.”

1 Comment

One Response to “The Rise of Islamophobia”

  1. Sabrina Jaynes on February 14th, 2018 9:16 am

    I was fully aware that Islamophobia was a major issue and threat throughout the world, but I had no idea we had such a hate act committed in our own town. The people in Pahrump can be extremely racist, and something should be done about this. While that may be impossible to do since it is so wide spread that this behavior is okay, the local police should have done anything possible to deal with this violence and learn how to combat it. The violence may just continue to worsen if there are no consequences for the terrorists, in which they are, as the definition of terrorism is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation.” The world needs work.

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