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.
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.
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
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