Islamophobia and Its Impact on the Lives of American Muslims
Islamophobia is a term that is used to describe the strongly negative attitude towards people who confess Islam. As a rule, Islamomphobia combines two elements - hatred of the Islamic religion and discrimination against its followers. This discrimination is most obvious when anything done by a person of this religion is rejected, mainly because Islam promulgates different values, which are sometimes unacceptable for representatives of other religions. Islamophobia is executed by excluding Muslims from the social, economic and public life of a country. Examples of Islamophobia include violent attacks, prejudiced attitude and hate speech. These Islamophobic acts occur mostly due to the fact that Muslims are associated with terrorism, which results in Muslims having a reputation of being domestically and internationally threatening. Such attitude reinforces the negative moods of Muslims as of a colossal group, whose cultural values are contrary to democracy and human rights of the majority of the world.
However, Islamophobia in the USA is not an unregulated process, as one would think. In fact, the recent investigations showed that the anti-Islamic moods in the country were encouraged and even paid for. For instance, one of the American newspapers published the information that over 42 million US dollars were invested over the past 10 years in the projects, which were aimed to help fuel the rise of Islamophobia. Several foundations were proved to donate money to fake experts and scholars, whose aim was to spread the anti-Muslim propaganda on television. The projects that these people conducted include: Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) by Steven Emersion; Middle East Forum (MEF) by Daniel Pipes; Society of Americans for National Existence by David Yerushalmi; Center for Security Policy by Frank Gaffney; David Horowitz Freedom Centre (Horowitz) by David Horowitz and Jihad Watch by Robert Spencer. As we can see, the Islamophobia network that includes funders, scholars, activists, politicians and media personalities worked a lot on criticism of Muslims. They argued that mosques act as incubators of radicalization and that radical Islam had penetrated into the American society.
In 1996, the Runnymede Trust set up the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. Professor Gordon Conway, who was the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, chaired the commission. The trust came up with eight components that aptly defined Islamophobia. First, it is the perception of Islam as a massive community, static and insensitive to change. Second, there are assumptions that Islam does not have common values with other cultures, neither is it affected by them nor influences them. Third, the religion is inferior to the West due to its barbarism, irrationality, primitiveness, and chauvinist behaviors. Fourth, there is a perception of the possibility of Islam being a political ideology used for military or political advantage. Fifth, there are always rejections of any criticisms made of the West by the Islam community. The other components include the view of Anti-Muslim hostility as normal, and that the hostility towards the Islamic community is a means of justification of the discriminatory practices towards Muslims and their exclusion from the conventional society.
Islamophobia has impacted the lives of American Muslims through a number of negative ways. Thus, in reference to the international human rights standard, Islamophobia should be combated in order to foster mutual understanding and tolerance among different races, cultures, religions, and social classes of the citizens within the country.
Speaking of the ways in which the lives of American Muslims have been impacted by Islamophobia, there should be mentioned spontaneous physical attacks carried out by the non-Muslim individual or organized groups on separate citizens, community, and property associated with the Islamic community. This leads to injury, loss of life, and misery among the culprits, especially if they are innocent. The state should take all the necessary steps within their legal system to ensure that Muslims are free from Islamophic violence, harassment, and any discriminatory actions. Another way of such a negative influence of Islamophobia on the lives of American Muslims is the imposition of prejudiced naturalization and immigration procedures with the intent of excluding Muslims or disadvantaging them compared to the followers of other religious backgrounds. It is an infringement on their democratic right of movement and a violation of the law since it is discriminatory. The government body should allow free movement of people within or in and out of the borders of the country without bias as long as one has all the necessary documents.
The conduction of racial profiling actions, such as stop-and-search and surveillance of cultural and religious Islamic organizations, is another example of how Islamophobia influences the lives of Muslims in America. This poses a serious security threat to Muslims since such practices can spread out negative preconception and cause the creation of a new ground for hate crimes. The state should do its best to fight racial profiling and institutionalized Islamophobia in order to ensure the safety of Muslims.
Furthermore, there is a restriction of the public display of Islamic religious symbols like, for instance, minarets. This should be highly discouraged since it is a denial to the freedom of religion. Finally, the hate crime is another factor which highly impacts the life of Muslims in America. During the investigation into the levels of vandalism of the Madera Islamic Center, writings at the site show that vandalism was resulting from hate crime. Another incidence of hate crime occurs when a young drunkard urinates on prayer rugs in a mosque. A 21-year-old New York film student is convicted of attempted murder after stabbing a Muslim cab driver. This is a clear example of the hate crime. Islamophic hate crimes can be prevented by discouraging hate speech on the Internet and in the media.
Among the ways of combating Islamophobia in America there is the conduction of awareness campaigns, the support of agencies dealing with its alleviation, and the development of educational strategies to curb the vice.