Sometimes the ways in which issues are framed by the media, and by the victims of issues can be ingrained in culture. The term ‘Islamophobia’ has now become synonymous with racism and hatred towards Muslims, of that there is no doubt. People know what it is meant to mean. But, it is completely ridiculous to describe hatred and racism towards Muslims, as a phobia. It’s not.
This afternoon, I turned on the news, and there is a shocking and disgraceful story. The central Mosque in Redditch, Worcestershire, had been vandalized and had Swastikas and other hateful sentiments graffitid’ upon their walls and windows. As per usual, the Muslim community have not reacted with violence, but with a calm and clear statement condemning the attacks as racist, ignorant and irrational, which they are.
In an article in the BBC, Supt Kevin Purcell, of West Mercia Police, said; “For as long as I can remember the relationship between the Muslim community in Redditch, the police and the wider community would best be described as excellent.”
This is not a one off attack either. This is now happening nationally. Up and down the country Mosques are being attacked, including a bomb being left outside of Walsall Mosque (BBCnews), Petrol Bombs thrown inside Grimsby Mosque (thisisgrimsby), and shockingly according to IBtimes, every three days since Lee Rigby’s murder, a Mosque has been attacked.
This is becoming systematic, targeted and deliberate hate. Targeting Muslims, because they are Muslims. It is planned ignorance.
According to my trusty Chambers dictionary, a phobia is defined as:
“A fear, aversion or hatred of a specified object or condition”
When i go onto a tall building, i have a phobia of heights. It is an irrational fear of heights, and i don’t attack the tall building with a petrol bomb. My dad has a phobia of snakes. When he sees a picture of a snake, he runs away and shuts the paper. It is his personal fear of something, and it’s for the person to deal with. You wouldn’t blame the building or the snake, would you?
So when Muslims, or mosques are completely indiscriminately attacked with nothing to provoke anyone, why is it being put as a phobia? Why are we claiming that the reason for an attack is due to an irrational fear, when it’s pretty obvious the attack is driven by deliberate hate and ignorance.
The use of the term Islamophobia is quite deliberate too. If a Synagogue was attacked it wouldn’t be called Jewish phobia. It would be called, Jewish hate or anti antisemitism (hatred of people of Semitic origin, which is another ridiculous term, deliberately used to remove any legitimate grievances of the victim, but that’s another post). If a political parties headquarters were attacked, it wouldn’t be called Conservative-Phobia, as much as i do actually have a phobia of being Conservative. It would be a hate attack.
The reason Islamophobia is used, is because it replaces irrational hatred of Muslims with irrational fear of them. It removes the notion of a group being persecuted, and promotes the idea that it is a group which are the culprits of the problem. Thus, the people attacking are doing so in fear.
Fear is the key word. It is a sly trick to ensure that Islam is the root of the problem, and everyone should be scared of it. An attack on Muslims needs to be countered by Muslims changing, not the racists that attack.
To an extent, this is even the same case with Homophobia, because if someone has a problem with someone else being gay, it implies that that person can do something about it, and they are choosing to be gay, and thus they should change their ways, or suppress it. Well, Muslims are born into Muslim culture, and Gay people are gay. People who oppose this state are not doing so because of an irrational condition of fear, but they are fueled by an ignorant hatred of Islam, or gender.
Of course Muslim communities need to improve the way they handle Islamic extremism, but part of that will be getting to the root of the problem. The problem is not a fear of Islam, but a fear of hate filled radical Islam, just as we are worried about hate filled far right extremists.
There is no phobia or a fear of Islam, it is an ignorant and misguided hatred of Islam. One step to changing this view is to stop framing Muslims as the group we need to be scared of, and start looking at them as a group within our society that we need to help rid of their radical elements by working with them.