How many times has the sight of men clad in skull caps instilled a sense of fear in you? What makes the recitation of Quran and the offering of Namaz in public places an astounding spectacle? To answer these questions well, retrospectively, it is important to understand what Islamophobia is.
Islamophobia, as the name suggests, is the irrational and unfounded fear of Muslims and/or Islam, often times used as a political rhetoric. The term surfaced in the late twentieth century, only to reach an unprecedented peak, post the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks. The perpetrators of the same were 19 men affiliated to Al-Qaeda, a militant Islamist organisation. Having mentioned the involvement of an Islamist group in this dreadful act, it became all too inevitable for the Muslim community as a whole to not be viewed under the same radar as terrorists. Treated just as such since, their community has been under tremendous pressure from agencies all across the globe.
Their blatant ostracism from the mainstream affairs of the world is not a pleasant sight to behold. US President, Donald Trump, openly campaigning for an absolute ban on Muslims entering The States is a sickening ploy, more so because it was a political propaganda camouflaged as a mitigation measure against rebellion. He garnered an unbelievably huge response to his unlikely candidacy at the presidential elections by fanning the already seething flames of hostility towards Islam in the US.
Prominent American Muslim, Edward Mitchell IV of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told Al Jazeera that it is one thing to read anti-Muslim rhetoric on the internet or to see it on Fox News and it is an other thing to hear it from the president of the United States. The same can be said about Theresa May, only she does not out rightly admit to racism. Theresa May, Prime Minister of The United Kingdom turned a deaf ear to the incessant wailing of Muslim worshippers, celebrating Ramdaan at London’s Finsbury Park Mosque, when a white van swerved sharply off the road and slammed into the crowd, killing one and injuring at least eight others. However, earlier in the same year when jihadists orchestrated an attack on London, in which eight people were killed, May was infuriated and issued a statement saying that there was far too much tolerance of Islamist extremism in the UK and announced civil liberties restriction. What May did in the latter, was indeed the right thing to do to in order to safe guard the interests of her citizens, however, the lack of reciprocal prosecution in the former suggests bigoted sentiments of the Prime Minister towards Islam.
The present day plight of Rohingya Muslims, the most vexed ethnic Muslim community in the world, is nothing short of horrific. Having to flee away from Myanmar, their home land, they find themselves negotiating the terms of refuge in neighboring nations, having to live without an identity, for what seems like an indefinite period of time. Mob lynching cases in India have been on the rise since the BJP government attained power in 2014, not to mention, the categorical slaughter of Muslim men under the pretext of beef consumption and cow annihilation. Pehlu Khan, Mohammad Aklaq, and Junaid Khan, are a few names out of a couple hundred that resonate with indignation and lost pride.
World domination as against a particular community, based on the suspicion of radical ties of a few with certain established militant organisation, is an extremely poor choice, especially when we are living in a polar world, where the dissemination of information is the freehold of media houses, a privilege which ought to be exploited, like all others. “If I was not a Muslim and all I knew about Islam is what I saw in the evening news, I might be afraid of Muslims too,” says Mitchell to Al Jazeera, highlighting the deplorable state of moral policing in media and print stations.
It is important to separate religious affiliations from counter terrorism. Terrorism is not the sole propriety of a particular community. The sinful acts of a few radical extremists should not lead the remaining 1.6 billion into apologetic surrender. It is the job, not just of the government but also of the masses to scrutinise the current scenario and come up with a mechanism to weed out the rotten lot and save Islamism of religious defamation.
Feature Image Credits: The Express Tribune Blog