Tackling Rising Islamophobia Islamophic related terrorism requires world focus

Organization of Islamic Cooperation has strongly condemned horrendous and despicable Islamophobic terrorists’ attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. In a communiqué of emergency meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers, organization appreciated the Government of New Zealand for its unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks, in particular the firm and clear stance of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who embraced the Muslim community and shared their grief.

It supported the government of New Zealand in its commitment for a thorough and fully transparent investigation into the terrorist attacks.
The communiqué expressed its deepest condolences to the families of the innocent Muslim victims and the people and Government of New Zealand. It called upon all States to respect the freedom of religion of all Muslims including in particular not deny them the right to exercise their civil and cultural rights. It also firmly rejected all presumptions of guilt or attributions of potential crimes, extremism and terrorism to ordinary Muslims.

It called upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe to establish an observatory to monitor acts of religious hatred, hostility and violence against Muslims and report to the relevant organs. It called on the United Nations and other international and regional organizations to adopt 15th of March as the International Day of Solidarity against Islamophobia. It also called upon the UN Secretary General to convene a special session of the UNGA to declare Islamophobia as a form of racism and to assign a special rapporteur for monitoring and combating Islamophobia.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Joint declaration of the emergency meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers in Istanbul is comprising four points from the Pakistan side. He said Pakistan had proposed to expand the definition and scope of terrorism, not confining it to Al-Qaeda and Daesh only. Rather, it should also encompass the elements promoting Islamophobia.

The second point of Pakistan was to convene a special session of UN General Assembly on Islamophobia. Pakistan, had also suggested that OIC Secretary General play a role in removing hate material against Islam from social media platforms as it leads to extremism. And lastly, Pakistan demanded to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor the hatred against Islam and to propose suggestions for its eradication.

The term phobia is used to elaborate some peculiar type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation. The phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months. The affected person goes to great lengths to avoid the situation or object, to a degree greater than the actual danger posed. If the feared object or situation cannot be avoided, the affected person experiences significant distress. With blood or injury phobia, fainting may occur. For instance, agoraphobia is often associated with panic attacks. Usually a person has phobias to a number of objects or situations.

Phobias can be divided into specific phobias, social phobia, and agoraphobia. Types of specific phobias include those to certain animals, natural environment situations, blood or injury, and specific situations. The most common are fear of spiders, fear of snakes, and fear of heights. Occasionally they are triggered by a negative experience with the object or situation. Social phobia is when the situation is feared as the person is worried about others judging them. Agoraphobia is when fear of a situation occurs because it is felt that escape would not be possible.

Islamophobia is the fear, hatred of, or prejudice against, the Islamic religion or Muslims generally, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism. The term was first used in the early 20th century and it emerged as a neologism in the 1970s, then it became increasingly salient during the 1980s and 1990s, and it reached public policy prominence with the report by the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997). The introduction of the term was justified by the report’s assessment that anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed.

The causes and characteristics of Islamophobia are still debated. Some commentators have posited an increase in Islamophobia resulting from the September 11 attacks, the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, some from multiple terror attacks in Europe and the United States, while others have associated it with the increased presence of Muslims in the United States and in the European Union. Some people also question the validity of the term. Some academics maintain that Islamophobia is a response to the emergence of a distinct Muslim public identity globally, the presence of Muslims in itself not being an indicator of the degree of Islamophobia in a society. There are societies where virtually no Muslims live but many institutionalized forms of Islamophobia still exist in them.

Western media has also played main role in inflaming Islamophobia among the masses.
Studies show that coverage of the Muslim community across the globe is not only one-dimensionally bleak; it is often riddled with conspiracy theories and factual inaccuracies. In the United States, 80 percent of news coverage of Muslims is overwhelmingly negative, according a media research organization, with the majority of coverage depicting Islam and Muslims as sources of violence and malice. A 2018 study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that perpetrators of violence who were perceived to be Muslim received seven times more media coverage than their non-Muslim counterparts.

Press coverage of Muslims in the United Kingdom isn’t any better. A study by the University of Leeds found that 70 percent of news coverage of the Muslim community in Britain has been hostile. One British man took it upon himself to submit more than 14,000 complaints in 2016 to a plethora of news organizations due to their inaccurate, biased or antagonistic reporting about Muslims. For years, media organizations such as Fox News have spewed anti-Muslim disinformation without consequence. The conservative network has repeatedly invited notorious anti-Muslim activists, like Pamela Geller, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center called the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead, and Frank Gaffney, who founded a neoconservative turned anti-Muslim think tank, for segments where they disseminated hatred and bigotry without interruption from the anchors.

To make matters worse, the anchors themselves have also engaged in similar rhetoric. Even, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro explicitly questioned Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D–Minn.) loyalty as an American lawmaker simply because of her religious beliefs. On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed in 2010 that all terrorists are Muslims. But the problem isn’t just with Fox News. Media organizations across the political spectrum have also indulged in similar narratives. In 2015, CNN host Don Lemon asked guest Arsalan Iftikhar, a Muslim American human rights lawyer, if he supported ISIS, for no reason other than the fact that Iftikhar is a Muslim. After the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, journalists from numerous national news networks swarmed the home of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, broadcasting close-ups of the items left behind. Those used for worship, which included a Quran, a Muslim prayer rug and prayer beads, were equated with the tools a terrorist might use in an attack.

As per ‘European Islamophobia Report 2017’ report compiled by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), in 2017, some 546 anti-Muslim attacks took place in Spain. Hate crimes against Muslims and attacks on mosques almost doubled in London & Poland.

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About Hadi Bandial 15 Articles
Writer is the CEO of Mélange IT Solutions & The Asian Telegraph, an expert on Political Economy, & Director of Bandial Group.