An introduction to the topic, addressing the specific information that will be discussed so the reader has a clear understanding of what is being offered in the paper.
A history of the term "Islamophobia," where it came from, why it is used, and how it is used.
A discussion of racism in the context of Islamic and Muslim people.
The fear of Islamic or Muslim people, when and how that developed, and why it has become (and remained) so prevalent today.
There are alternatives that can be addressed when it comes to Islamophobia, but education is generally the key to finding and addressing these options.
Allegations made against Islamic people are strong, and many of them are unfounded.
The media can create a culture of fear, by reporting on anything that would seem to be against Islamic people instead of keeping a more neutral reporting style.
Trends come and go, but the number of people showing discomfort with Islam continues to grow, and there are a number of issues that fuel that.
IX. Contrasting views are to be expected, but these views need to be based on facts, not on fear and inaccurate opinions.
X. Criticism of Islam is significant, but there are also criticisms of people who rush to judge Islamic people.
XI. Conclusions on Islam should be factual, and based on actual evidence.
As a relatively new term when it comes to common or frequent usage, "Islamophobia" is being used to categorize those who are fearful of Islamic things, ideas, and people. It is also used for those who are prejudiced against Muslims or for those who have a hatred of them (Allen, 14). It comes from the idea that Muslims are "different" from the majority of people in the United States, and this has fostered an "us against them" mentality that is not helpful to good relationships between people or countries. In some cases, those who have these feelings toward Muslims also target those who are perceived to be Muslim, even though they may actually belong to another ethnic group (Allen, 19). It brings to light concerns over prejudice and stereotyping, but also concerns over the miscategorization of a number of people who may be thought to "look Muslim." The term and the concept itself have both been criticized for being inappropriate and inaccurate, and for creating labels on people that may not have any accuracy and that are based on misguided and incorrect information (van Driel, 24).
It has been called racism by some, and others have disagreed with that assessment. The largest argument that many people make against the term and what it stands for is that it has not allowed people to truly express their deep fears or concerns for the radical variants of the Islamic culture that result in issues like terrorism without it being assumed that a hatred or fear of all Muslims is being expressed (Ramadan, 45). There are also a number of reasons for Islamophobia, and arguments about what causes it and how it came about. The September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and other structures have been cited as one of the reasons that people appear to be fearful of Muslim individuals. However, others argue that the fear is more closely associated with a larger number of Muslim people making themselves visible in the Western world, and that visibility making non-Muslims uncomfortable.
While many people may not have heard the term Islamophobia before, it is not a new term. It simply has not been in common usage, but more people are using it today because of increased tensions between the United States and the Islamic culture. The first recorded use of the term occurred as early as 1910, with others uses recorded in 1912 and 1918 -- including one in a biography written about Muhammad (Gottschalk & Greenberg, 37). These were books written in French, and it is argued that the word did not mean the same thing then as it does in modern society. When the books were translated to English, for example, the word was used to show a fear of Islam that came from feminist Muslims, as well as Muslims who were more liberal (Allen, 58). At that time, the term did not mean a non-Muslim who was afraid of, or had a hatred for, Islamic people. The word was kept completely within the Islamic culture, and used more to indicate differences of opinion than anything else. There were other interpretations of the term, as well as how and why it was used, during that time, though.
One of these interpretations was that some of the authors using the term were criticizing another man, Henri Lammens, who had an attitude to Islam that was overly hostile. Lammens' crusade was considered to be pseudo-scientific, and he was seen as someone who wanted to bring down Islam permanently (Sheehi, 128). Even French colonial bureaucrats such as Alain Quellien mentioned Islamophobia, stating that Muslims were against civilization, and were, essentially, everything that Europeans and Christians were not (Sheehi, 130). In 1923, the first use of the term Islamophobia was seen in English, and became a part of common usage when the Runnymede Trust's report was published in 1997 (Greaves, 57). During a 2004 conference, Kofi Annan stated that the term had to be created in order to take the increase of widespread bigotry into account and have a word that could be used for it (Kundnani, 59).
For many scholars, Islamophobia is believed to be a type of racism. Sociology journals often mention the issue, and they call it a form of anti-Muslim racism, which they deem as a continuation of anti-Arab and anti-Asian racism (Allen, 93). While the sentiment is clearly understood, as is the idea behind this opinion, Muslims are not actually a race. Calling Islamophobia racism is not completely accurate. However, because of the similarities to racism and the ways in which many people view Muslim as a race and not a religion, it is common for people to see Islamophobia as a type of racism. Parallels have been drawn between Islamophobia and the anti-Semitism that was seen during the 1930s, as well as the anti-Catholic views that have also occurred throughout history (Greaves, 49). Not every scholar or academic believes that the Islamophobia term is the same thing as racism, though, and some are still questioning whether the term should even continue to be acknowledge and used, since there are both general and specific terms that can also be used to indicate a dislike for a particular group of people.
Since there is no real consensus on what the term actually means and different people apply it differently (fear, prejudice, hatred, etc.), using the term as something that completely addresses the Muslim culture from the standpoint of race can be difficult and confusing. A number of scholars have stated that Islamophobia is racism, but that it is wrapped in the terms of religion (Allen, 48). There is a European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), and it believes that Islamophobia is a human rights violation when it is expressed or practiced. What a person believes on the inside, in his or her mind, cannot be changed unless that person decides to do so. However, what that person does with those beliefs is important, and can be seen to affect the person's treatment of others who are different from him or her, or against whom he or she has a prejudice.
Islamophobia is also about fear, because not everyone who has Islamophobia has a prejudice against or a hatred for Muslim people. Some individuals actually fear Muslim people, because they believe those people are going to harm them. They may have relatively rational fears, such as those that would be seen when a person has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by a particular race of type of person. These people may also have irrational fears, such as those that cause them to be frightened of an entire group of people even though they have never experienced any personal harm from that group. There is a common misconception among many of these fearful people that everyone who is Muslim or Islamic is a terrorist (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 76). Of course, this is certainly not the truth. There are radical people in every religion, and it is those people about which others should be concerned, no matter what religion they belong to. With that in mind, however, it is vital to recognize that the fear of Islam and Muslim people is real for a number of individuals in the United States and other countries.
This version of Islamophobia is very different from the hatred and anger that is seen by some people who want nothing to do with Muslim culture or the people who belong to it. Social scientists focus on different ways in which they can measure the fearful attitudes that people…