Early Warning Signs of Islamophobia in Western Societies
There is no doubt that an anti-Muslim movement is on the rise. While in most regions in the West Muslims are not actively persecuted or abused, there are early warning signs of bigotry and racist that can result in violence or heinous acts eventually. Because of this, it is important for Muslims everywhere to speak out against forms of Islamophobia, before it is too late. Isolated incidents of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence are not unexpected, but taken all together, these signs of Islamophobia are a worrying sign of future hardships for Muslims living in the West.
The number of physical attacks and vandalism on Muslims and Muslim buildings has risen steadily since the 1990s. These kinds of attacks have also been met with certain indifference in most media, especially conservative media outlets. It is relatively simple to recognize Islamophobia in the media and the rhetoric of right-wing politicians. It is simple a question of substituting the word “Muslim” for the word “Jew”, “Black”, “Christian”, or any other race or religion. Many of the statements that right-wing pundits and conservative media consistently make would be completely unacceptable to Western society if they were applied to any other ethnic group. The gradual acceptance of anti-Muslim speech should be stopped. A statement like saying that “Blacks do not understand the British way of doing things” would be instantly condemned by most British people. Also, saying that “Jews are not willing to follow the law and cannot understand a democratic society” would instantly turn whoever said it into a political pariah. However, these exact same statements have been said by British right-wing politicians and pundits with the word “Muslims” instead of the word “Blacks” or “Jews.”
One sign of Islamophobia that is particularly worrying is the way that many societies treat Muslims as an alien presence within their own community. Muslim requests for space or resources are met with direct antagonism and hysteria. A recent example of this phenomenon was the whole media frenzy over the proposed Islamic community center in New York City. Muslims all over the United States face similar bigotry and racism when applying for permission to build a Mosque, a Muslim cemetery, or for or for something as simple as a menu option without pork in public schools. This is precisely the crux of the problem; the fact that Muslims are treated likes aliens within their own communities. Muslim immigrants pay taxes, own businesses, and try to provide for their families. However, there is a gradually increasing point of view that Muslims are somehow trying to infiltrate Western society in order to spread Islam by force, or to enforce Shariah law. It is extremely worrying that the media has latched on to this paranoia in an effort to sell more newspapers and ad space. It is even more worrying that politicians have taken advantage of this latent Islamophobia as a way of gaining more votes instead of speaking out against it.