Counter-Islamophobia project in the European...
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. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word means "Intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims" Several scholars consider Islamophobia to be a form of xenophobia or racism. However, some others have questioned the supposed relationship between Islamophobia and racism.
Ingrid Ramberg writes "Whether it takes the shape of daily forms of racism and discrimination or more violent forms, Islamophobia is a violation of human rights and a threat to social cohesion."
According to Gabrielle Maranci, the increasing Islamophobia in the West is related to a rising repudiation of multiculturalism. Maranci concludes that “Islamophobia is a 'phobia' of multiculturalism and the transruptive effect that Islam can have in Europe and the West through transcultural processes.” It is a depiction of Islam and Muslims as a threat to Western security and values.
Expressions used in the media such as "Islamic terrorism", "Islamic bombs" and "violent Islam" have resulted in a negative perception of Islam. “Terrorism, we know, is not the exclusive preserve or franchise of dark-skinned, bearded Muslims. But nowadays you might not know it from following the news.” Said Mehdi Hasan, the New Statesman’s senior editor.
The fact that 31% of young children think Muslims are taking over England; the fact that 37% of Brits would support a political party that would reduce the number of Muslims in the UK; the fact that Muslim men are 76% less likely to be employed than their white Christian counterparts; and the fact that half the British Muslim population live in the 10% most deprived areas in the UK. None of these can be constrained to hatred alone – but the contributing factors all fit under this broader umbrella of Islamophobia.
In the U.K., about 50 per cent of mosques, Islamic centres and Muslim organizations have suffered at least one attack since 9/11, according to the European Muslim Research Centre at Exeter University. In Denmark, the land of the 2005 Muhammad cartoons, the right-wing People’s Party, which works with the governing coalition, calls Muslims “cancer cells,” “seeds of weeds” and “a plague on Europe.” In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, the anti-Muslim MP, led his Freedom Party into a partnership with the centre-right government. He wants to ban “the fascist Qur’an;” forbid the building of mosques, “palaces of hatred;” and impose a tax of 1,000 Euros a year on those wearing the hijab, “a swastika.”
Western media over-report a few Islamist terrorist incidents but under-report the much larger number of planned non-Islamist terrorist attacks. According to The Guardian inciting hate toward American Muslims and Islam has become a multimillion-dollar business. According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) and University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, 74 groups contribute in some way to Islamophobia in the US. Of those groups, report says, the primary purpose of 33 “is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims”. The core group, had access to almost $206 million of funding between 2008 and 2013.
On the contrary, some media outlets are working explicitly against Islamophobia. In 2008 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ("FAIR") published a study "Smearcasting, How Islamophobes Spread Bigotry, Fear and Misinformation." The report cites several instances where mainstream or close to mainstream journalists, authors and academics have made analyses that essentialize negative traits as an inherent part of Muslims' moral makeup. FAIR also established the "Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism", designed to monitor coverage in the media and establish dialogue with media organizations.
Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Islamic Society of Britain's "Islam Awareness Week" and the "Best of British Islam Festival" were introduced to improve community relations and raise awareness about Islam. In 2012 the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation stated that they will launch a TV channel to counter Islamophobia.
On 27 December 2018, the European Parliament has launched a project to counter Islamophobia. According to Islamic Research and Information Centre (IRIC), experts and academics from across Europe gathered at the parliament for the launch of the two-year Counter-Islamophobia Kit (CIK) project funded by the European Commission’s Directorate of Justice.
They called on member states and policymakers to play a more active role in the fight against Islamophobia and strengthen legal procedures on the issue. The project reviews dominant anti-Muslim narratives and compares counter-narratives in eight EU member states of France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, and the U.K.
It outlines 10 counter-narratives that must be prioritized in Europe.
- Challenging and contextualizing constructions of Muslim ‘threat’
- Building inclusive nations: challenging exclusive and discriminatory national projects
- Cultural compatibility and conviviality: challenging the narrative separation of cultural and ethnic groups
- Elaborating plurality: challenging narratives of Muslim singularity
- Challenging narratives of sexism
- Building inclusive futures
- Deracializing the state: challenging institutional narratives
- Emphasizing humanity and Muslim normalization: challenging narratives of division
- Creating Muslim space(s)
- Challenging distorted representation: verity and voice
Compiled by: Negar Paidar