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Islamophobia

By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed                                                                                                       President                                                                                                                                            Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.                                                                                Louisville, KY 40242

Islamophobia is a neologism (a new word, expression, or usage) used to refer to an irrational fear or prejudice towards Muslims and the religion of Islam.

Some believe that prejudice against Muslims has increased since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many organizations are "institutionally Islamophobic".

Many human rights organizations have documented this recent increase in Islamophobic events and hate crimes against Muslims and Islamic organizations have done the same. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a December 7, 2004 UN conference on the emergence of Islamophobia that "(when) the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry - that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with 'Islamophobia'."

American journalist Stephen Schwartz has defined Islamophobia as the condemnation of the entirety of Islam and its history as extremist, denying the existence of a moderate Muslim majority, regarding Islam as a problem for the world, treating conflicts involving Muslims as necessarily their own fault, insisting that Muslims make changes to their religion, and inciting war against Islam as a whole.

"According to a Gallup Poll, four out of 10 Americans are prejudiced toward Islam and Muslims."   A recent rise in "anti-Muslim rhetoric" may have spurred vandalism at many Mosques and Islamic Centers throughout the United States.

 

At the root of Islamophobia lies the myth that the West spreads democracy while Islam spawns terrorism.  Since it is a static and unchanging society, it is the burden of the West to civilize, modernize, and democratize.

Many liberals and some on the left as well, have bought into the clash of civilizations argument.

When U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress in January, the Minnesota Democrat took his oath of office on a copy of the Quran that had belonged to the author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, considered one of the nation's more profound thinkers of his time, recognized there was strength in religious diversity and tolerance.

As American Muslims we condemn all acts of violence and terrorism against innocents and civilians. Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, and any such acts carried out in its name are a gross misrepresentation of its teachings and humanitarian message.

As law-abiding Muslims and loyal American citizens we unequivocally reject any attempt to spread fear or harm, whether to individuals, societies or states. We also request that Muslim communities not be singled out in any backlash. The worrying level of inflammatory reporting in the media is causing widespread fear amongst American Muslims and other minorities and harming community cohesion. Louisville is a great city to live and work, where ethnicity and diversity is profoundly recognized. To American Muslims, America is the best Muslim country to live as the Constitution of America is based on Islamic justice, morals and ethos.

 

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