By Raheel Raza | 25 February 2014
Islamophobia has almost become a fad for a certain group of academics and Muslims across North America. 2013 was a bumper year for Islamophobia conferences in America and abroad.
- “Islam, Political Islam, and Islamophobia: an International Conference” was held at Indiana University, Bloomington on March 29-30, 2013.
- “Islam, Politics and Islamophobia,” an international conference of the Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair, took place at the Indiana Memorial Union Faculty.
- “International Conference on Islamophobia: Law & Media”, hosted in Istanbul, was organized by the Directorate General of Press and Information, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and under the auspices of Mr. Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, and took place in September, 2013. The website starts off by stating “Islamophobia, which is a term used to express the groundless fear and intolerance of Islam and Muslims, has swept the world, becoming detrimental to international peace especially in recent years.”
- The IWIC’s 2013 conference on “Women in Islam,” in Atlanta, Georgia from November 22 to 24, used the theme, “Eradicating Islamophobia.”
One would think that four conferences in one year would be enough for the International group of speakers to discuss, debate and hash out that, in their view, there is an epidemic of Muslim-bashing taking place in North America.
However it seems that these are not enough to complete the agenda of the Islamists. Therefore this year the University of California, Berkeley is hosting its fifth annual International conference on the study of Islamophobia, from April 14 to 19, 2014.
It is frightening to realize that this is their fifth such conference; the website states, “the obsessive pre-occupation of everything related to Islam and Muslims, congressional and parliamentary hearings criminalizing Muslims and violations of their civil liberties and rights, domestic and international surveillance programs exclusively on Muslims and Arabs, extra-judicial use of force on Muslims and Arabs, interventions, military campaigns, and policies rationalizing its exercise, are, in essence, what we see and bear witness in the Muslim world. These are the direct effects of latent Islamophobia.”
University of California, Berkeley is home to Professor Hatem Bazian, who directs the school’s “Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project,” and teaches a course titled, “Asian American Studies 132AC: Islamophobia.”
Seriously? A course on Islamophobia? Recently, Professor Bazian told 100 students in his class to tweet about Islamophobia — all being done to promote an agenda of “victimhood.”
Obviously the Islamophobia conferences, the courses and the tweeting professor must find support for their self-serving propaganda somewhere. Part of this support comes from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an international organization consisting of 57 Arab and Muslim member states, including the entity of the Palestinian Authority. The organization states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.” The term “Muslim world” is offensive: no one speaks for all Muslims, and for the OIC to consider itself the “voice of the Muslim world” is dictatorial in the extreme.
No surprise, then, that on their website they have an Islamophobia Observatory, where they mention their support of Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, adopted in 2011, on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.
What is ironic and hypocritical about all the Islamophobia hype by members of the OIC is their double standards when it comes to minorities in their own lands. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, the Palestinian Authority and Iran are among OIC members that have appalling human rights violations against minorities, and are routinely ignored under UNHRC Resolution 16/18.
Let us take a moment to look at Islamophobia. According to a 1997 report by the UK’s Runnymede Trust, the term has existed since the 1980s and was first used in print in 1991. Runnymede defined Islamophobia as the “dread or hatred of Islam — and, therefore, to the fear or dislike of all Muslims,” adding that “[w]ithin Britain it means that Muslims are frequently excluded from the economic, social and public life of the nation … and are frequently victims of discrimination and harassment.”
Are majority of Muslims really excluded from the economic, social and public life in the USA and Canada? There are no statistics to verify such a statement. To the contrary, most North American Muslims live with full freedom as part of their social networks unless they ghettoize themselves by choice — as many do.
Many Muslims in the West use “Islamophobia” as a penalty card against free speech whenever there is criticism of Muslims. This knee-jerk and reactionary response stifles dialogue, debate and discussion — all signs of a healthy thriving democracy — as increasingly seems a primary objective. North America is a region where freedom of expression is a cherished value. That includes the freedom to criticize the followers of a faith if they are indulging in violence, intolerance and radicalization.
How did this Islamophobia theory become mainstream and so popular? In North America there is already an existing sense of guilt – one might call this “white liberal guilt.” It is a guilt that Christians have already built into their faith, and that other North Americans have been made aware of from their treatment of Natives; Canadians have guilt about residential schools and wartime internment of the Japanese; and the Europeans have guilt about having mistreated people in their colonies, as well as the complicity of many of their grandparents had with the Nazis in rounding up and sending Jews and others to their death during the German Third Reich.
The Islamists readily and eagerly build on this guilt when they play the “victimhood” card and join with some academics, who buy into that concept to build an highly profitable industry of the supposedly aggrieved called “Islamophobia.”
Islamists have been successful in building the Islamophobia industry: it diverts attention from activities they would probably prefer not be noticed, such promoting sharia law in the West, stealth jihad and a push to implement a global Islamic Caliphate, among many others. Any non-Muslim who questions the Islamists’ intentions to promote the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood is immediately slapped with an Islamophobia fatwa [religious opinion], thus rendering most well behaved and civil Westerners, silenced and apologetic.
This is not only racist but, for the most part, a form of emotional extortion intended to extract special concessions from well-meaning but gullible people the West.
Islamophobia is also a convenient pseudo-cause around which to whip up young followers: they are informed, whether true or not, that they have much to be aggrieved about and that the only solution is to close down free speech, demonize all who might have an opinion that differs from theirs or who ask “inconvenient” questions, and to start creating an authoritarian political movement in which they might feel a meaningful participant.
But in the long run it can only numb the minds and hearts of young Muslims growing up in the West, and destroy all spirit of enquiry and independent thinking — as increasingly seems to be another of its objectives.
Raheel Raza is President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, author of the book Their Jihad – Not My Jihad, award winning journalist, public speaker, activist for human rights, gender equality and dignity in diversity. She is recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to Canada.
Islam is a Religion of Peace — Intelligence Squared
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