“Islamophobia” and Racism of The West .. A Reading of Indicators and Causes (part 2)

Western countries raise slogans of respect for human rights and freedom and present their image in the world as democratic countries that allow everyone to express opinions and respect intellectual and religious pluralism, but it is now clear that these are false slogans. Language differs when it comes to the interests and rights of minorities in those countries in which crimes of discrimination, racism, and hatred against Muslims and their sanctities are spread.

Attacking Muslims and their property, burning Qurans, and vandalizing mosques has become a regular and frequent occurrence, carried out under the protection of the police under the pretext of freedom of expression, and in complete disregard for the feelings of two billion Muslims around the world.
What happened in Denmark, Sweden, and many other European countries, in terms of burning the Qur’an, reflects the growing phenomenon of “Islamophobia” in it, and legitimizing it in light of the authorities’ permitting such actions, and deliberately distorting the image of Muslims and intimidating Western society from their presence.

In order to address the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”, which poses an imminent threat to global coexistence, especially the Muslims represent nearly 10% of the total population of Europe and constitute a source of intellectual, scientific and cultural wealth for Europe, the Strategic Forum for Public Policies and Development Studies issues “Deraya” a research paper that monitors and analyzes the reality of The phenomenon of Islamophobia in European countries through the following 7 axes:

First: The concept and origins of “Islamophobia”.

Secondly, “Islamophobia” is a manifestation of racism.

Third: Indicators of the growing phenomenon of “Islamophobia”.

Fourth: Reasons for the rise in the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”.

Fifth: the challenges to addressing the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”.

Sixth: The efforts of the Egyptian state to confront “Islamophobia”.

Seventh: Proposals to eliminate the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”.

The main findings of the research paper are as follows:

1-The phenomenon of “Islamophobia” is a form of racism and discrimination that affects all aspects of Muslims’ lives, from education and work to obtaining citizenship and full participation in society.

2- a big gap between official reports and the reality of the spread of “Islamophobia. Only about 12% of Muslims who are discriminated in the EU countries report their cases to the authorities.

3- “Islamophobia” has become institutionalized. France, Austria and Denmark are the most exacerbated countries in Europe.

4- The French authorities took control of 1,727 Islamic institutions, closed about 118 and confiscated about 10 million euros between January and August 2022.

5- Attacking about 42% of the 1,800 mosques in Britain.

6- European governments refuse to recognize the problem of “Islamophobia” and to set a specific definition for the term.

The research paper also suggests the following:
1- Considering hostile behavior against Islam and Muslims as a crime punishable by international law.

2- Enacting legislation and laws targeting extremist and racist groups that practice hostile manifestations against Muslims on the ground and virtually, and ensuring that they are punished for the racist crimes committed.

3- Develop a specific definition agreed upon by the countries of the world regarding the term Islamophobia in order to allow Muslims to report any crimes they are exposed to.

4-Activate the political and social roles of Muslim communities as part of the fabric of society and not as second-class citizens.

Reasons of the high frequency of “Islamophobia”

Several reasons for the high frequency of “Islamophobia”, including

1- Ignorance of the Islamic religion: There is a clear ignorance of the reality of Islam in the Western world, which derives information about it from sources that lack a correct understanding of Islam, objectivity, and integrity،Where Islam was branded with terrorism, fanaticism, contempt for women, intolerance towards non-Muslims, rejection of democracy, and the pursuit of a culture of revenge.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and other horrific acts of terrorism allegedly carried out in the name of Islam, institutional mistrust of Muslims has grown to epidemic proportions. Many countries, along with regional and international bodies, have responded to the security threats by adopting measures that target Muslims more than others.

2-Western media: it played a major role in the spread of “Islamophobia”, as it was able, with its massive technologies and wide influence, to carve a very negative stereotype about Islam and Muslims, and worked continuously to demonize the image of Arabs and Muslims as they pose a threat to Western and non-civilized values. They are able to integrate into these societies and tend to embrace extremist terrorist ideas.

3-The agendas of the extreme right: direct their arrows at Muslims and hold them responsible for the problems of the countries in which they reside, and then deal with Muslims as a “scapegoat” for any political or economic failures, which perpetuates hate speech and increases acts of racism against Muslims, such as burning the Holy Qur’an and writing inflammatory phrases on Walls, physical and verbal abuse of Arab immigrants or non-Arab Muslims, and other racist behavior.

4- The crisis of immigrants and refugees: the arrival of two million refugees, most of them Syrians, to Europe since the beginning of 2015) caused a state of fear and anxiety among the working and middle class in Europe because of employment opportunities, health and social care, and how to absorb these huge numbers of refugees within their countries, What resulted from this crisis was the deterioration of the economic conditions, which worsened with the Corona pandemic and after the Russian-Ukrainian war.

 Challenges facing the “Islamophobia”

There are many challenges when trying to eliminate this phenomenon in light of the growing wave of hostility against Islam and Muslims in the whole world and the emergence of an urgent need to address it, the most prominent of which are as follows:

1- United Nations resolutions on confronting “Islamophobia” are not binding on member states, such as the resolution that stipulates “intensifying international efforts to strengthen global dialogue on promoting a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels on the basis of respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.”

2- Targeting Islam and Muslims by the extreme right in Europe in an unprecedented way, presenting them to the world as extremists and advocates of killing, intimidation and terrorism, and who cannot coexist with Western societies.

3- Considering the abuse of Islamic religious symbols and sanctities as a kind of freedom of opinion and expression, which represents a threat to human freedom in what he believes, which is something that arouses the feelings of Muslims and their anger.

4 – Impunity for perpetrators of hate crimes against Muslims.

5- Restricting the participation of Muslims in presenting the media discourse that expresses the tolerant values of Islam and not participating in developing the necessary plans to correct the image that has been attached to Islam.
6- The Western media relates Islam with the Arabs and presents them as controlling the oil and petroleum markets and spending money irresponsibly, while ignoring the fact that Islam is a universal religion for millions of Europeans, Americans and peoples of the Asian continent and is not linked to a specific nationality, race or geographical area.

7- The interpretation of Islamic texts by some extremist terrorist organizations according to their own goals, in a way that enables them to justify their actions and crimes against humanity.

8- The emergence of movements against the presence of Muslims in Europe, such as the anti-Muslim “PEGIDA” movement, which succeeded in mobilizing demonstrations, the number of which exceeded 20 thousand demonstrators, denouncing the presence of Muslims in their countries and in Europe.

9- The chaos of using false news on social media, which led to an increase in news targeting Islam and Muslims, with the difficulty of verifying its authenticity.

10- The spread of secularism in European society and the growth of discourses and discussions that support modernity and reject religion in general.

11- The scarcity of studies and questionnaires that measure the repercussions of “Islamophobia” on Muslims and its impact on them. Most of the studies and statistics have been carried out by European bodies and institutions.

The Egyptian State’s Efforts to Confront “Islamophobia”

Egypt warns of the dangerous and negative repercussions of contempt for all religions, abuse of their adherents, and desecration of their sanctities, which leads to growing “Islamophobia”, provoking hate speech and extremism, and encouraging destructive endeavors and ideas that seek to destroy the bonds of civilized communication between the peoples and societies of the world.

In the statements issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it stresses the need for state authorities to take measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of attacks against Muslims and their sanctities, and to hold the perpetrators accountable, in an effort to preserve the culture of tolerance and the principles of peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and acceptance of the other.

Egypt has the largest religious institution in the world, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, which is characterized by its correct and moderate approach, and is always keen to preserve the moderation of Islam and resist the claims of the West and their attempts to undermine it, and to address the spread of the culture of fear of Islam “Islamophobia” through thought, discussion and taking a number of executive measures.

1- Establishing the “Al-Azhar Global Observatory for Combating Extremism” in twelve languages.

2- Establishing the “Al-Azhar International Center for Electronic Fatwa” in Arabic and a number of other languages, including: English, French and German, to eliminate the chaos of fatwas.

3- Establishing the “Al-Azhar Center for Translation” to be concerned with translating books that illustrate the true image of Islam in eleven languages, and sending them to embassies of foreign countries and international organizations in and outside Egypt.

4- Establishing the “Center for Interfaith Dialogue in Al-Azhar Al-Sharif” to be a new beginning in which intellectual, religious and civilizational dialogue with followers of other religions and civilizations would be a way of harmony and coexistence.

5- Dispatching “international peace convoys” to many countries of the world in cooperation with the Council of Muslim elders to promote peace and spread the culture of tolerance and coexistence.

6- Sending “Al-Azhar missions” to more than 80 countries, to spread the enlightened moderate Islamic science.

7- Launching the “East-West Dialogue Project” on the concept of pluralism and integration between East and West. One of its most important activities was the “First Forum of Muslim and Christian Youth,” with the participation of fifty young people from different countries of the world.

8- Establishing the “Al-Azhar Academy for the Training of Egyptian and Expatriate Imams, Preachers, and MuftisTo promote the moderation of Islam and spread it through these moderate Azharite ambassadors in the whole world.

9-Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta has also established the “Islamophobia” observatory, which monitors cases of racism and discrimination practiced against Muslims in all countries of the world and provides correct information about the teachings of the Islamic religion.

Proposals to eliminate “Islamophobia”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution defining the 15th of March of each year as the International Day for Combating Islamophobia. This day coincides with the anniversary of an extreme right-wing extremist storming two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and shooting at worshipers, killing 51 people and wounding others.

The repercussions of “Islamophobia” no longer only affect Muslim communities in the West, but also extend to the relations of countries with each other. Therefore, it is necessary to make more efforts to confront this phenomenon, and this can be done through the following set of mechanisms and proposals:
1- Considering the hostile behaviors against Islam and Muslims as “Islamophobia” a crime punishable by international law.

2- Enacting domestic legislation within countries and concluding international agreements aimed at punishing extremist and racist groups that practice hostile manifestations against Muslims.

3- Determine a definition agreed upon by all the countries regarding the term Islamophobia in order to allow Muslims to report any crimes they are subjected to, as the lack of a specific definition contributed to the disastrous spread of the phenomenon.

4- Compelling the international community to adopt policies or an international plan of action to address discrimination and prejudice on the basis of religion, especially the Islamic religion.

5- Opening channels of communication with civil society in Western countries interested in combating racial discrimination, hatred and insulting religions, with the aim of introducing the values of Islam, and encouraging the establishment of a global dialogue on promoting a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels.

6- Activating the political and social roles of Muslim communities, as part of the fabric of society and not second-class citizens.

7- Providing the major and concerned religious institutions with a clear and agreed-upon interpretation of some Islamic texts that terrorist groups exploit as a cover for their criminal actions.

8- The need to combat misleading and anti-Islam information, and oblige social networks to remove all content that discriminates against Islam and Muslims or incites hatred or harm against them.

9- Strengthening media campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the danger of Islamophobia, promoting a positive image of Islam, correcting misconceptions, and presenting dramatic works that reflect the true image of Islam and Muslims.

10- Translating fatwas and reference books that respond to proponents of Islamophobia into different languages.

11- Expanding studies, field research and surveys on the extent of Muslims’ exposure to discrimination, hate speech, and psychological and physical attacks, provided that they are published periodically.

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