Islamophobia – Combating the main myths that feed Islamophobia (Rava Special Report)

Islamophobia – Combating the main myths that feed Islamophobia (Rava Special Report)

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The recent case of attack in New York has once again sparked the controversy of Islamophobia. Since Donald Trump became the president, USA has faced numerous tragedies one after another. Hundreds of people have lost their lives in past few months due to hurricanes, mass shootings and attack.

However, the two words that have made their way back to headlines are ‘Islamic Terrorists’. The media, government and general public did not wait for a moment before declaring the person involved in truck attack in NYC on Halloween day as ‘Islamic Terrorist’.

The question that arises here is why the person who shot 50+ people in Las Vegas was not identified as a terrorist, or the man who killed 3 people in Walmart, Denver identified as an extremist. The man who attacked passerby’s in New York was declared a Muslim Terrorist within few seconds of the attack based on his religion, appearance and nationality, thus, resulting in series of hate comments all across social media igniting the hatred towards Muslims and Islam in general.

One example of such hatred was posted by

investigative journalist Laura Loomer.

On Wednesday, Loomer commented on the aftermath of the attack by sharing an image of women wearing hijabs and wrote, “Muslims are out in full force at the scene of the NYC #ISIS attack today rubbing it in everyone’s face. Aimlessly walking around in hijabs.”

Though, the tweet was shut down by supermodel Gigi Hadid and many other followers however this has sparked a debate of Islamophobia in West once again.

The incidents towards the Muslim population grew by 567.35% in 2015, according to the report of the Citizen Platform against Islamophobia. Four specialists dismantle the topics or myths about Islam that cause more prejudice and controversy.

 

Insults, threats, graffiti, verbal attacks, physical violence, cyber-hate, contempt, rumors, intolerance … These are the different forms under which Islamophobia is expressed . When the Daesh attacks reach European soil, such as Paris or Brussels, this form of racism on this population increases. They have to endure constant attacks that, in an interested way, are distributed more and more, especially by social networks.

For David Karvala, coordinator of the book Combatir Islamophobia, an anti-racist guide , the origin of this current is based on a historical premise: “On the one hand, the failure of the traditional left in that region left a vacuum that occupied movements inspired by Islam . These are very diverse, but the left has not been able to understand them, nor react in a sensible way “.

According to Karvala, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the USSR, and the decline of the traditional left made the opposition to imperialism in the Middle East more and more expressed in terms of political Islam. “So from the 90s, the right and the Western States began to respond to this opposition with Islamophobic discourses. In a sample of hypocrisy, the right adopted the arguments of the Islamophobic left, such as the defense of women or of secularism, “says the author.

For this reason, with this book and with the campaign Stop Islamophobia they intend to stop these acts and, in addition, mediate and solve the social problems that are generated. From other groups and associations or from the teaching world, there is also an attempt to stop the growth of this hostility towards Islam every day. Four specialists respond to some of the myths or false ideas that circulate the most among those who promote Islamophobia, to counteract the prejudices, stigmas and erroneous beliefs that they generate.

Myth 1: “The hijab goes against women and shows a lack of integration in Western society”

“In the report of the Citizen Platform against Islamophobia of 2015, it is pointed out that most of the victims of Islamophobia are women because they are the most visible, especially those wearing the hijab. It occurs equally in Spain, France and Belgium. In France it reaches 80% of the cases, and most of the aggressors are men.
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Respect to the hijab must be contextualized in this topic. Anyone can decide to wear a veil, miniskirt or cleavage within the freedom of image . If the State determines to impose a certain dress, all feminists should unite. Not in the false debate of the pledge for or against, but in the fact that the State legislates on women.

If we legislate on clothes, let’s make a broad debate with all feminists and question the use of heels, aesthetic surgery, skirts in hostesses … Some wear the veil for fashion, others because their friends go like this and identify themselves, others because in their environment it is a sign that they look for a partner … Many times they are cultural and social keys, and it does not always pass through religion.

And it is absurd to relate this topic to integration. Does a piece of cloth mean to be more integrated? We also have canons, like not going naked. Wearing hats or caps is legal. Is there an imposition by some Muslim men for them to dress in a way? Yes, as there are couples of non-Muslim men in West who do not want their partner to wear a heel or a mini skirt, because they are possessive and jealous. Does it have to do with religion? It has nothing to do with religion and yes with macho realities , which is common to most cultures. ”

Natalia Andújar Professor at the Halal School and vice president of the Islamic Board

Myth 2: “Muslims abuse our system and do not integrate into our society”

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Muslim tourists in a terrace of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid in a file image. EFE

 

“Arcadi Oliveres, as an economist, makes clear in one of his lectures what immigrants contribute and what they spend, and the balance so far is in favor of the immigrant. Most of those who come are young and strong and go very little to the hospital. Many work caring for elderly or Spanish children.

As for the refugees, it is not explained who is behind those conflicts or who is arming the groups they are facing. Thanks to the welcome received in other parts of the world, many people found refuge. Our grandparents and parents told us many stories about the Spanish people who settled in Morocco or Algeria and how they arrived exhausted, hungry and with clothes made of rags when they fled the Civil War, Franco and their misery.

Islamophobia increases because people are very uninformed. A few are interested in the tension to carry out their policies in an atmosphere of fear

About integration … you integrate where you feel well valued . A worker in a company can not feel good and give the best of him if the boss or colleagues crush him at every moment. It will endure because it has no remedy, but it is difficult to talk about integration. Another issue is the immigration law and its injustices. To renew the residence you have to prove a decent housing and quotation, with what it means during this period of economic crisis. If you are charging unemployment you can not visit your relatives in Morocco. If you charge the help, even worse. There are people who have not been able to witness the death of their parents or the birth of their children.

Islamophobia increases because people are very uninformed. A few are interested in the tension to carry out their policies in an atmosphere of fear. I think most of us differentiate between normal people on the street, our neighborhood neighbors, who know us, treat us and make friends. These are the ones that make us estimate the country. Many of us work and quote. What we receive in return is a right already paid with our taxes, because we contribute. ”

Fatiha El Mousali Samadi, Member of UCFR

Myth 3: “All the Islamists are terrorists”

Activists from various umbrella organizations of mosques and Muslims gathered to show their support for the victims of the Brussels bombings in the Dam, Amsterdam. EFE

“The Daesh or Islamic State is an organization that uses armed force, violence and terror to impose its project of totalitarian society on the populations under its control. Groups with similar purposes and methods, unfortunately, have existed throughout the history of mankind in societies and contexts where the predominant religion was not exactly Muslim.

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It is often the States themselves that practice violence and terror to impose themselves. The use of force, violence and terror, both by armed groups and states, has occurred both in societies where Christianity prevails and even in the name of secular totalitarian political projects. But it does not occur to anyone to say that violence, terror and barbarism are inherent in both Christianity and secularism. So, why is the binomial “Islam = Terrorism” repeated over and over again? Assuming that violence is intrinsic to Islam, as it is not in any other religion. But, besides, obviating that the great majority of the victims (of what is called, without too much criteria, “jihadist terrorism”), they are Muslim!

That is why it is so important to explain how the “Daesh” originates, develops and expands from Iraq to Syria in the last ten years. And how despite a patina or religious wrapping with which they try to endow themselves with some legitimacy or justification, they have nothing to do with Islam or with the vast majority of Muslims in the world.

Explanations about this phenomenon or other similar ones must be looked for in historical, social, political or economic reasons. In this way, not only will we not be able to “make the problem disappear”, but quite the opposite. The only thing that is achieved is to foment fear, hatred, stigmatization and discrimination of an important part of the population because of a culture, aspect or religious option. At the same time that it serves as a pretext to impose new security measures and policies that pursue the backward movement in all types of rights and individual and collective freedoms that affect us all. ”

Meritxell Bragulat, member of Sodepau

Myth 4: “In the mosques there are only radicals who foment terrorism and the Koran only incites hatred”

 

A group of Muslims pray in the mosque of the M-30 in Madrid. EFE

“The mosques are centers of cults registered in the registry of religious entities of the Ministry of the Interior. Each mosque has its own personality that depends on who makes it and the current of Islam that they follow, which is usually conditioned to the current of the country of origin. The differences are usually by legal school (madhhab) that defines whether the cult center is Sunni or Shiite or by the fact that the faithful are ascribed to a spiritual brotherhood (Sufism), and sometimes even the cult center is mixed and unites people from different backgrounds and currents of Islam.

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Terrorism is a criminal activity that requires an organization that acts under the most absolute secrecy and discretion, and there the mosque is not the ideal place for it.

There is the same possibility of finding extremists in a cult center, as criminals in a football sports club . There is no cause and effect relationship that guarantees that in one place or another there are criminals or terrorists. Even in those mosques subsidized by third countries such as Saudi Arabia and in which the current that is followed is Wahhabism or Salafism, there is no credentials in the Wahhabi-Salafist doctrine of any invitation to terrorist violence against the West, although one can find a intra-Muslim (anti-Shiite) hate speech that could justify some sectarian violence, and that is very much conditioned by the conflict in the Middle East and the pulse between Iran and the Gulf monarchies.

Terrorism is a criminal activity that requires an organization that acts under the most absolute secrecy and discretion, and there the mosque is not the ideal place for it.

It is not true that Islam incites hatred . To paraphrase Adnan Ibrahim, how can a religion called Islam be violent, if Islam is peace, derived from the verb “salima” (be at peace)? The greeting of the Muslims towards the whole world is “peace be with you”. People say that the Koran calls for violence and articulates a hate speech. It is absolutely false. It only promotes defensive war, not a war of prey to provide hostages with which to trade, nor a religious war. The Qur’an says it clearly.

 

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.

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