Islamophobia: Acceptable Bigotry
The term phobia refers to exaggerated or inexplicable fear of an individual event or object. Normally it is difficult to identify the source of the fear. Islamophobia, therefore, refers to exaggerated fear, hostility, and even hatred towards the Islamic religion and Muslims at large. This type of fear is usually perpetuated by negativity and stereotypes which lead to discrimination and bias. Often, Muslims are marginalized and excluded from both political and social practices. For instance, after the shooting massacre in San Bernardino in December 2nd that claimed 14 lives, the media reported that the killers had Islamic names. A few minutes later, Americans had decided to kill Muslims even though there was no proof that the killers were Muslims (Soltas and Davidowitz). Evidently, there has been humiliation and degradation of the minorities based on stereotypes. In recent times, Islamophobia has become prominent as Islam continues to experience these negative reactions in the American Society. This paper argues that stereotypical thinking, fear, and negativity from the media influence the attitude of Americans towards Islam and Muslims (Bazian 21).
Terror events that took place in September 2001 heightened concerns about the role of Muslims regarding the national security of the American society. On that fateful day, two jets believed to have been hijacked, destroyed the Twin Towers plus the Virginia Pentagon. No one had a clue about the terrorist, but the media blamed Muslims for the attacks. The media has continued to focus on Muslims, as the root source of the terror attack. Since these happenings, all Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists. It is important for Americans to fight Islamophobia, as it has become a racist discourse that is openly accepted (Esposito and Kalin 18). Apparently, when the public tolerates racism, individuals begin to capture the political agenda of the society by directing racism at ethnic minority communities. Ironically, many Muslim Americans are distinct from cultural practices (Hamza, Yaseen, and El-Hub 20).
The problem of the humiliation of Muslims due to stereotypical beliefs among this minority group has become unbearable causing the devastating and unacceptable behavior of discrimination and misunderstanding. The ethnic group has been experiencing various reactions including phobia and suspicion. Orrin Hatch, the Senator of Utah, openly claimed that the terrorists must be associates of Osama bin Laden (Schmemann 1). The people’s attitude in the U.S. towards Muslims has been very unfriendly. The exaggerated fear, hostility, and hatred directed to Muslims have greatly contributed to bias and marginalization. The fear has resulted to Muslims being excluded from important sectors of life including the political and social aspects. The phobia started several years ago after the 2001 terror attack and has continued to escalate in the recent past decades. Muslims have also been over the years associated with terrorism in the U.S. harnessing the fear towards Muslims. It is evident that the attitude of Americans towards Muslim religion is influenced by fear (Bazian 1059).
Strategies, however, have been put in place to ensure there is equality when it comes to religion, especially the Muslim group. Some of the laws passed in the U.S. support anti-Muslims religion. In fact, there have been demonstrations, including the anti-Islam demos among other anti-Muslims bills that were passed. Harry Limehouse proposed a bill that barred the jurisprudence of international defenses in the courts of the state. The bill was aimed at stigmatizing individuals from the Islamic communities by banning the use of Sharia and foreign laws (Schmemann 1).
The problem of Islamophobia is no longer limited in the U.S. but is rather displayed in various regions, countries, and even globally. The tension has also been associated with political interests. Some countries even proposed a ban on the Muslim religion although it would have brought harm to the image of the country. The government, therefore, opposed the suggested ban. The Muslims are also known to be non-patriotic in the US. Most of the rights of Muslims were infringed (Esposito and Kalin 29).
The Muslim group, however, deserves to be treated equally just like other American citizens. Various strategies have been employed to ensure that Muslims are protected. Political leaders including presidential candidates, such as Donald Trump contribute significantly to stoking Anti-Islamic fears. Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims from traveling to the United States. Muslims should be treated fairly in the policies that directly affect them. The media also needs to ensure the Muslims are portrayed with equality on issues of common interests. The Muslims and Arabs in America usually live in fear because of the Islamophobic violence and hatred. The result of this has been trauma and psychological torture among the Muslims and even non-Muslims. In fact, the Muslims are never comfortable owning their religion because of their safety. It is, therefore, necessary to abolish the international violence and domestic Islamophobia directed towards Muslims (Hameed 1).
The stereotypical thinking among Americans has also contributed to the negative attitude towards Muslims. Stereotypes towards Muslims have also resulted in paranoia and even violence in some parts of America. The issue of Islamic individuals showing unacceptable acts of violence has resulted in the scrutiny from other religions and even the social media. These acts have resulted to Muslims being viewed as terrorists. In some cases, these stereotypes made people judge Muslims from how they look like, how they dress and even how they behave. Most Americans believe that Muslims are generally dangerous people. This stereotype has changed the way innocent Americans view the Islamic Religion. After the terror attack in San Bernardino that claimed 14 lives, Donald Trump proposed a bill to install 24-hour surveillance cameras in all Mosques (Strickland 1).
Despite teaching the young children about respect to different people, cultures, and religion, the problem of negative attitude towards Muslims has persisted in America. The South Carolina bill sought to illegalize principles associated with the Islamic Religion (Strickland 1). Adults need to lead by example besides educating young children on religion and culture. Labeling the entire Muslim community as bad and evil is unfair. People need to embrace pluralism to be able to see the good side of every individual around us (Hamza, Yaseen, and El-Houbi 25).
The world is full of awesome people, but we only need to give ourselves a chance to see the positive side of life. People need to get rid of the stereotypes because they hurt and affect other people’s life negatively. Teaching children will bring the change required in the American community. The issue of making Islamophobia as an acceptable bigotry in America has also worsened the situation. Politicians and leaders in America have somehow contributed to negative attitude directed at Muslims. The discrimination towards minority groups has been extended to not only religion but also race, gender, and even ethnicity (Gottschalk and Greenberg 19).
The horrific attack that occurred in the year 2001, 11 September resulted in great scrutiny of the Muslim community. For example, the American government put the Muslim group under surveillance that led to the rise of the notion of terrorism among Muslims kept on growing stronger. Besides, the social media addressed the issue of terrorism extensively resulting to prejudice against the Muslims. The Muslims have also been associated with the killings of many innocent people rather than utilizing other peaceful option. Stereotypes had also grown to the extent of threats including burning of Quran especially on the specific date when the attack occurred. The issue has also been the main cause and trigger of mass violence and terrorism fear. The jihad war is also associated with racism and discrimination. There have been efforts and struggles to stop these stereotypes as people try to correct the tarnished image of Muslims (Allen 59).
Social media also needs to stop making headlines on Muslims and terrorism. The media needs to be fair and accurate in whatever it publishes. For instance, the New York Times reported that the terrorists of the 2001 event had an Islamic background. However, the New York Times did not have any proof that the attackers were Muslims (Schmemann 1). The issue of presenting Muslims as fundamentalism jihad and violence has contributed to the persistent misunderstanding among various American people and religious groups. The worst part of the matter is that the racism directed to Muslims has been extended even to housing and employment sectors. There have been issues of vandalism of mosques and other Muslim centers only because of the stereotypes associated with Muslims (Bazian 1061).
The Muslim community in the U.S. widely discusses the image of Islam in the society. Muslims have been stereotyped negatively. Even though there are appeals on social media on fairness and accuracy, headlines in the newspapers and national televisions continue associate Islam or Muslims with terms such as Militants, Terrorists, Violence, and Fundamentalists. According to Prophet Muhammad, the term jihad was used to describe an individual’s struggle to make himself a better Muslim. However, Americans define jihad as a war that has led to Islamophobia. Islam continues to experience such stereotypes in numerous ways. Because of these stereotypes, Muslims encounter discrimination at places of work and housing. During the 1990s, Americans experienced attacks at various worship places including churches and mosque. Because of the existing stereotypes, people concluded that the arsonists belonged to the Islam religion. Muslim communities have difficulties with establishing a good relationship with their neighbors because they fear ‘terror attacks.’ Americans have a history of prejudice and discrimination, which has resulted in the negativity (Hameed 1). In an interview with Aljazeera, the spokesman of the CAIR (i.e. Council of American Islamic Relations) Mr. Robert McCaw maintained that Sharia courts are not recognized in the U.S. (Strickland 1).
After the 2001 attacks, the whole community of Muslims has often been discriminated which led to a rise in Islamophobia. Clearly, Islamophobia has hurt the relationship of Americans and the Muslim community. Because of these stereotypes, all Muslims were blamed for violence and preaching destruction. The Quran has been inspired to end mass slaughter practices. Unfortunately, Americans cannot see the peaceful part of Muslims but rather views them as radicals. Americans unfairly present the Islam religion violent and hateful. These stereotypes have caused Americans to look down upon Muslims as minors. This discrimination is a major element for Islamophobia as political classes are encouraging these stereotypes among Americans to create barriers for the Islam religion. Apparently, any American who hears about a particular terror attack will associate it with the religion of Islam. Americans have forgotten that an extremist can hail from any religion or background. When Americans discuss terrorism, they become filled with hatred and negativity towards Muslims. This form of negativity and hatred hurts the integration process of innocent Muslims. Ultimately, Islamophobia will persist for these reasons (Hamza, Yaseen, and El-Houbi 79).
The media spends more time covering violence events of particular extremists purporting to be Muslims. The amount of time the media dedicate to cover stories of radicalization is an important factor that contributes to the increasing heights of Islamophobia. Media develops multiple stories from speculation that are dearth. Often, the media discusses the topic of Islamophobia while portraying Muslims and the Islam religion negatively. After the 2001 attacks, all the top pages of the American n`ewspapers associated the attacks with Muslims. The media focuses on headlines that are deconstructing. There are so many problems that Americans go through which need to be covered by the media. However, the media misses these critical issues including economic disparities and healthcare issues. The United States would be a greater nation if only the media focused on broader issues besides Islamophobia. The media has always portrayed Islam as a religion that is prone to violence. Islam has become a common theme during media conferences as well as publications (Allen 91).
In the year 2012, the AFDI (i.e. American Freedom Defense Initiative) produced several advertisements with a message against Palestinians. The billboards and advertisements were set up in several cities that mounted racism among American citizens. The advertisements formed a part of the broader campaign that vilified the religion of Islam and Muslims, which constructed them as terrorists. Political leaders have employed Islamophobia to demonize Muslims while centralizing Israel. Muslims are identified as a major problem in the American society. It is easy to observe that Muslims are slow to integrate into the society due to Islamophobia. Sufficient data reveals that Islamophobia is on the rise. The USA Today reveals that over 39 percent of American citizens feel prejudice and fear against Muslims. A poll in the year 2006 reveals that since the 2001 terror attack in the using, Americans fear towards Muslims has gone up by seven percent. It is saddening that most Americans continue to believe that the religion of Islam promoted violence (Hameed 1).
Evidently, Islamophobia relates with extremism whose practices have provoked adverse reactions from Muslims. Subsequently, these adverse reactions result in inflationary violence. The intensity of Islamophobia has continued to increase fear among Americans towards Muslims. Even though we continue to blame the media and political leaders for elevating Islamophobia, it is unfortunate that relevant authorities have not taken any step to dissolve this issue. The American government needs to criminalize Islamophobia by working with Muslims as well as non-Muslim organizations to ensure that its citizens respect the religion of Islam. Considering the predominance of Islamophobia in the U.S., it is important that we emphasize the need to end Islamophobia. The law of the land manifests Islamophobia through hostility, prejudice, and discrimination (Bazian 1077).
The religion of Islam has been categorized as ‘other.’ Publications in the United States account significantly to the Islamophobia, which has created a platform for intense racism and violence. When he declared his interests in the presidency of the United States, President Barrack Obama was significantly attacked because he was Muslim (Hamza, Yaseen, and El-Houbi 22).
The tide of Islamophobia is rising among Americans and has led to dire global implications. The media is using Islamophobia to mount hatred and rationalize freedom and democracy among U.S. citizens. The media also has justified wars that are open-ended by religion. This novel of bigotry has rooted deeply in the long history of Americans regarding racist violence. Additionally, it has constructed the religion of Islam as ‘feared others.’ The same media has targeted Muslims as a platform to assert itself while thriving on the White anger to strike its agenda. The ills of the social media regarding Islamophobia must be addressed comprehensively (Esposito and Kalin 43).
The media has used inaccurate language to portray Muslims for violence as well as irrationality. Apparently, the media is a significant source of Islamophobia that is easily accessed by Americans. The American government should forbid the media from publishing negativity against Muslims. There is a need to ensure strict strategies are put in place to ensure the real fear is confronted. All Americans need to have an equal chance as far as religion is a concern. Anti-Muslim bills should be put in place with support from various stakeholders, including civil society leaders, policy makers, and educators. The government and other non-Muslims need to stop terrorism and Islamophobia to ensure freedom and effective community relations. Americans need to appreciate the good side of Muslims (Bazian 82).