Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

ISLAMOPHOBIA

Posted by strattof on April 2, 2015

Islamophobia, noun: hostility toward Islam and Muslims; prejudice against or fear of Islam and Muslims; anti-Muslim racism. 

In 1997, the Runnymede Trust, a British anti-racist research institute, published a report on Islamophobia, which it defined as ‘an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims.’ The report shows how Islamophobia has four distinct, but inter-connected and mutually reinforcing aspects: social exclusion, violence, prejudice, and discrimination.

In 2004, Kofi Annan told a UN conference on 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.’

In 2011, the Center for American Progress published a report on Islamophobia, which it defined as “an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility towards Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from…social, political, and civic life.

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CANADIAN STYLE

  • DEMONIZING MUSLIMS: In contrast to other western governments, the Harper government goes out of its way to identify Islam and Muslims with terrorism. By regularly using terms such as “Islamic terrorism,” it demonizes an entire religion and promotes hatred and fear of those who follow the religion.
  • FOREIGN WARS: Approximately 140 Canadian Muslims have joined Islamic State or other militant groups in the eastern Mediterranean. About the same number of Canadians joined Israel in its brutal attack on Gaza in 2014. Members of the first group have been labelled “terrorists.” Members of the second group have not been so labeled.
  • “LONE WOLF” ATTACKS: In 2014, there were three “lone wolf” attacks in Canada.  Two ‒ the fatal shooting of a policemen in Quebec and the attack on Parliament Hill ‒ were carried out by “recent converts to Islam.” A third ­‒ the fatal shooting of three Mounties in Moncton ‒ was the act of a young man from “a good Christian family.” The Harper government, along with the media, labelled the first two attacks “terrorist.” Neither the Harper government nor the media used the term “terrorist” or “Christian terrorism” in relation to the third attack. In our society, terrorist = Muslim.
  • THE GERMANWINGS CRASH (MASS MURDER): If the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had been a Muslim would the crash have been called an act of terrorism?
  • MORE DOUBLE STANDARDS: Islamic State has killed a number of captives by beheading them. Undoubtedly, these are, as Prime Minister Harper says, “brutal and barbaric” acts. But are they any worse than dismembering people by dropping bombs on them?

WHO’S ANTI-WOMEN?

In 2011, the Harper government banned the wearing of the niqab, a face veil, from citizenship ceremonies. Earlier this year, a federal judge struck down the ban as unlawful. The Harper government intends to appeal the ruling.

According to Stephen Harper, wearing a niqab at citizenship ceremonies is “offensive,” “contrary to our own values,” and “rooted in a culture that is anti-women.”

When will men stop telling women what they can and cannot wear!

Harper also seems to be projecting his own anti-women values on to Muslims. ●In 2006, the Harper government shut down Status of Women offices across Canada. ●In 2010, the Harper government withdrew funding from Sisters in Spirit, a research initiative of the Native Women’s Association of Canada that was documenting cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. ●The Harper government continues to refuse to hold a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

Promoting anti-Muslim fear and hatred, Islamophobic views lay the groundwork for:

  • Western wars in Muslim countries: Earlier this week, the Harper government passed a motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for a year and expand it into Syria.
  • “None is too many” immigration policies: The Harper government says it plans to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next two years, giving priority to “persecuted ethnic and religious minorities.” This means Canada will offer refuge preferentially to Christians and other minority commu-nities. The majority of those affected by the war in Syria are Sunni Muslims who make up 75% of Syria’s population.
  • Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act: This bill jeopardizes Canadian rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy and freedom of speech. Those most likely to be targeted are Canadian Muslims, Indigenous peoples, and environmental groups. However, we are all at risk.

CHECK YOUR ISLAMOPHOBIA

Canadian culture is saturated with Islamophobia. Almost all of us are infected with it. What can we do about it?

  1. Think critically. Question our own assumptions.
  2. Read against the grain. Look for contradictions. Why, for example, does the Harper government regularly condemn Iran for its supposed nuclear weapons program and never raise the issue of Israel’s undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons?
  3. Raise the subject of Islamophobia with family, friends, and colleagues.
  4. Call out Islamophobic statements and assumptions wherever we encounter them. Learn to do so in a manner that provokes thought rather than anger.
  5. Seek out progressive voices: Regina’s own Zarqa Nawaz, Sheema Kahn, Monia Mazigh, Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Glen Greenwald, the late Edward Said.
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2 Responses to “ISLAMOPHOBIA”

  1. ljtaffs said

    Thank you for this important and timely article. It looks like an updated version of a pamphlet that I have. I would like to take updated version to my Quaker Meeting,because I believe this is something they should be education themselves on and working on countering the growing Islamophobia in our society.. Can you please tell me a bit about the author or authors of this article? – My Meeting will for sure want to know. Thanks, Linda Taffs

    • strattof said

      Thanks, Linda. The pamphlet is a group effort, produced by the Making Peace Vigil in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Every Thursday, from noon to 12:30 pm we stand on a busy downtown corner in Regina and hand out pamphlets on peace and justice issues. Our main claim to fame is that we haven’t missed a week in eight years.

      The version we hand out is a four-page pamphlet: that is an 8.5″ X 11″ sheet of paper folded in half. If you would like the pamphlet on Islamophobia in this format, please send me an email: florence.stratton@uregina.ca

      You might also be interested in some of our pamphlets on war.

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