Articles From Orientalism to Islamophobia: Countering anti-Muslim sentiments

From Orientalism to Islamophobia: Countering anti-Muslim sentiments

From Orientalism to Islamophobia: Countering anti-Muslim sentiments

By Taj Nabi Khan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 20 (APP):Throughout the era of colonization, it was ‘Orientalism’ that has largely shaped the perception of Westerners about Muslims—the same perception has once again re-surfaced but this time it is based on a different notion called Islamophobia.

Initially whatever the European scholars had observed during the time of colonization was generalized and termed as norm of the society for all the people of the east and colonial subjects beyond their cultural complexities, geographical differences and linguistic diversities. This has let them to develop their own narrative about the orient based on ill-informed assumptions—many of whom were Muslims.

However, during the last two decades in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, the majority of the Westerners have once again succumbed to the notion of anti-Muslims propaganda based on false assumptions of Islamophobia while generalizing the acts of few to label the entire Muslim society with terrorism and extremism. This has also led them to develop their own narrative about the Muslims while stereotyping them with terms such as terrorist and extremist.

Likewise, certain attributes were assigned to Muslims as one group of people based on racialization despite the fact that the majority of Muslims are living in more than fifty countries with diversity in history and ethnicity. Some of the factors responsible for building the narrative of Islamophobia are based on ignorance of Islam, Xenophobia and Islamophobia network. Primarily, phobia is considered as an illogical and inexplicable fear from certain objects, situations or people.

Though it is almost impossible for the afflicted ones to determine or communicate the source of the fear. It is one of the recent phenomena that the western societies in general and India in particular have been engulfed with.

Research scholars from across various disciplines have defined the term in different details but the essence of the term throughout remained the same beyond the source.

The scholars defined the term of Islamophobia “An exaggerated fear, hatred, hostility or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.”

It is also reflected in attitudes and manifestations in a large number of cases, especially against the Muslims living in different parts of the globe as minority.In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly last year after taking office, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “There are 1.3 billion Muslims in this world. Millions of Muslims are living in the US and European countries as minorities.
Islamophobia, since 9/11 has grown at an alarming pace. Human communities are supposed to live together with understanding among each other but Islamophobia is creating a division.

“He said that there was a misunderstanding in the West regarding Islam which was causing Islamophobia in the world. “No religion preaches radicalism. The basis of all religions is compassion and justice,” Imran Khan added.Islamophobia has kept growing over the years in different parts of the world based on deliberate campaigns and public discourses maligning Muslims, hurting their sentiments and disseminating the fear of Islam as a geopolitical force.

Therefore, the ‘Islamophobia Observatory’ unit was established in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to monitor the incidents of Islamophobia. The OIC works in coordination with other member states, the United Nations Human Rights mechanism and international community to take counter measures to address the phenomenon. The measures such as dialogue, global awareness and projecting true image of Islam could prove instrumental in dropping the anti-Muslim sentiments.

Talking to APP, Dr Zafar Iqbal, Professor of Media Studies, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), said, “Due to Islamophobia, the immigrant Muslims living in different parts of the globe have been faced with the problem of racial discrimination based on their religion. He said that this global misconception has affected opportunities for Muslims in developed parts of the globe. There was a need for political and academic response to counter the origin and causes of Islamophobic tendencies, he added.

Dr Zafar Iqbal said, “The causes of Islamophobia vary from country to country as its antecedents are based on different threats: cultural, political, social, race and prejudice etc. but throughout its manifestations had remained the same. Therefore, there was a need to establish a center of research to investigate the causes, effects and after-effects of Islamophobia and the way it could be countered.” He said that an ideology cannot be defeated with power or violence; it could only be defeated with another ideology.” Likewise, the academia, think-tank organizations, politicians and Muslim Ummah could play a vital role to bring down the intensity in Islamophobia, he added.

Speaking about the rising cases of Islamophobic tendencies in India, Dr Manzoor Khan Afridi Chairman Department of Political Science and International Relations, IIUI, has said that Islamophobia was deeply rooted in Indian history. He said that the situation has turned from bad to worse for Muslim minority in India due to the growing cases of violence against them. After the 9/11 attacks, India has launched a deliberate campaign against Muslims and Islam through media to malign the whole community with the label such as terrorist and extremist, he added.

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