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Islamophobia: Fact or Fiction? by Denis MacEoin (Gatestone Inst.)

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Aug. 15, 2015

  • Edward Said leaves us with the impression that all prejudice is only on the part of the West.
  • To the traditionally minded, news of such things as man-made laws based on objective evidence, free speech, equal justice under law, democracy, elections, freedom for women, freedom of religion and respect for the “other,” and so on, may have come as a sort of horror. Despots recoiled from the very thought of democracy. Religious leaders fumed at secular education, the freedom to question and say what one liked, even about religion.
  • “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated; to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.” — Hasan al-Banna’, Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, 1928.
  • The vast amount of what is called “Islamophobia,” however, is not that at all. Fair criticism is not phobic, responses to Islamic terrorism are reasonable reactions to violence.
  • Based on news reports of Muslims murdering other Muslims and killing Christians, there is, ironically, probably more Islamophobia among Muslims for each other than there is from Westerners toward Muslims. There is also probably more “Infidelophobia” by Muslims toward non-Muslims than by non-Muslims toward Muslims.
  • Again this year, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation held a conference calling for a universal blasphemy law — legislation it has repeatedly tried to pass for over a decade, with the help of U.S, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The aim is not to protect other religions (about which Muslims blaspheme without cessation), but to block any criticism of Islam.
  • Sometimes it seems as if Islam ceases to be treated as just another religion and becomes a religion intolerant of all others and unduly protective of its own rights and privileges. In democratic states, Islam is evidently already the only religion that may not be criticized, even though criticism of religion has for centuries been a cornerstone of free speech and transparency that are essential elements in democracy. These freedoms really matter, yet not one Muslim country can claim to implement or protect them, especially freedom of religion.

On July 9th, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, within the Council of Europe, published its annual report for 2014. The report identifies a dramatic increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech and xenophobic political discourse as main trends in 2014. It also indicates that “Islamophobia is reported in many countries, counteracting integration efforts for inclusive European societies. According to the report the rise of extremism and in violent Islamist movements has been manipulated by populist politicians to portray Muslims in general as unable or unwilling to integrate and therefore as a security threat.”

This is, of course, troubling, and it is right for the Commission to treat it as a growing problem. But just how widespread is the issue, and to what extent is it readily identifiable?

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