By Zumra Nawaz Cheema
“The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism.it is islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and obsessed with the inferiority of their power”
Islamophobia is a term used for fear, prejudice, and hatred against Muslim community in the world. It is a part of Eurocentric propaganda on the basis of religious discrimination and racism (Defining Islamophobia). The term is not new and firstly used in the 1925 and became famous in the 1980s and 1990s by British magazine Q-news. It got international fame by a British report on Muslims “A challenge for all of us”. It is aimed to spread Muslim terror and threat through the preservation and expansion of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to use violence as a tool to achieve “Civilization Rehab” of the target communities (Defining Islamophobia). “War on terror”, “Operation Enduring Freedom” like terms are the part of glittering generalities used by the Europeans to demand public support without any opposition.
Stereotypes fear and prejudices against Islam is as old as the religion of Islam. Islam and Christianity were caught up in the Crusades during the Turkish and Moorish rule in Europe. Islam spread very rapidly in the West on the basis of its universal virtues i.e. Justice, equality, humanity and tolerance, thus it threatened the power of Church and elite class. Resultantly, they began to oppose Islam, not only through physical force but also through its vilification in front of the world by using different tactics (Korhan).
Currently, Mass Media is more influential than ever before. The Media has almost turned the world into a global village. media plays a significant role in shaping, controlling and manipulating the opinions, thoughts and views of the people and different parts of world are inter-connected with each other by mean of it. Thus, racist Western governments are using it as a major tool of its political agenda to spread anti-Muslim sentiment among its non-Muslims masses since the end of Cold War (CW).The writings like ‘Clash of Civilization’, ‘End of History’, and ‘Coming Anarchy’ seem to be the part of the Western propaganda to set a platform, in the advance to prove legality and legitimacy of their future violent acts against Muslims. In a thesis “The Clash of Civilizations”, Samuel Huntington argued that the underlying problem for the West is not ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, but ‘Islam’ itself. Resultantly, Muslims get suffered with various forms of discrimination, stereotype, and human rights violation furthermore, profiled as “potential terrorists” and “supportive of extremism” in the Western world
A major factor which played a significant role in creating anti-Islam or anti-Muslim sentiment in the West is the media’s selection of words, i.e. fundamental Islam, radical Islam, Islamic Jihadist, and extremists etc, to describe the Muslims and Islam. Actually, wars in the battlefields are the collective actions of what planned, designed , discussed, and propagate through media. Media is being used as a vehicle to manipulate public opinion. Western governments are consistently spreading Islamophobia to spread hate and prejudice against Muslims to such extend so they can satisfy their own public, World Humanitarian Organizations (WHOs), and atheist groups to remain silent on their interference in the Muslim world, to contain their political, religious and territorial sovereignty.
Various Islamic and Qur’aanic terms and verses are vastly misinterpreting, mistranslating and misunderstood by the Westerns. They are using some concepts of Islam as card staking by disseminated or omitting them. Muslims cannot blame anyone because Muslims themselves are responsible for creating opportunity for others in number of ways, which are as follows:
- Firstly they have left to live under the light of proper teachings of Islam, so they are unable to represent the real image of its religion in front of the world.
- Secondly they have failed to spread true Islamic picture and virtues in the world through advanced technologies and vast projects.
Jihad, which is usually associated with Islam and Muslims, but in the fact, the concept of Jihad is found in all religions including Christianity, Judaism and all the other ideologies. Islam defines Jihad as determination and struggle for development as well as to defend one’s honor, assets and homeland. The term “terrorism” does not exist in the Quran or Hadith. If the terms “terrorist or terrorism” are derived from a verb used in the Quran, such as 5:33 describes disapproval to terrorist and terrorism and accordingly prescribes severe punishment. Jihad also interpreted as the struggle against evil, internal or external of a person or a society. Islam is a code of conduct of life, that does not separate politics from religion. Islam is a religion of mercy, unity and most importantly peace and harmony. However, the Western media often misuses or misperceive the meaning of jihad by referring it as a holy war where Muslims irrationally kill non-believers. But the fact is that, word jihad could be use for a numbers of acts that a Muslim does for the sake of God, while the Western often takes the word “jihad” out of context to propagate negative views against Islam. . An example of this kind of misconception is that the Western and some historian scholars often say that Islam is a religion, mainly spread on the basis of sword, but it is not true. Islam was totally spread on the basis of its humane and moral values.
The religious terrorist groups which consider themselves as the true believer of religion, and want to impose laws and rules accordingly to their own will on the whole world could be from any religion, not only from Islam. Actually these terrorist organizations can misinterpret some specific teachings of different religions. It is true that some Muslims are terrorists. It is true that some Muslims are fanatics but the same is true for the believers of any other religion, the Christians, the Jews or other then these.
In post cold war era, war became an act of great immorality and high of cost due to the invention of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Resultantly, it was difficult to enhance power and resources by waging the war and moreover, a Balance of Power (BOP) like situation established among the greater powers. thus Western capitalist nations laid down the foundation that conflicts will emerge on the basis of civilizations in the near future. Additionally, Islam was rapidly spreading in the Western world and they felt a danger for their religious, cultural, political and economic values, so they were finding an excuse to invade Muslim states.
Islamophobia in the West mainly spread after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre (WTC). Prior to this, various terrorist activities were being happened in the different parts of the world through different terrorist groups, but incident of 9/11 was given with extra publicity and Western media very cleverly set stage for invading Muslim countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya etc on the name of “War for Safety against Violence”. They spread anti-Muslims sentiments through movies, (Fitna, Obsession, and Innocence of Islam, Body of Lies), cartoons, leaflets, official statements etc
Western used different mediums of propaganda to deteriorate image of Muslims and Islam. They presented different terrorist activities, atrocities and damage by magnifying and glorifying in front of the masses to ensure them that all of this is being done by radical Islamists organization, and all of the involved terrorist actors with beard and veils are Muslims. They try to show that Islam taught and allow such kind of killings and Islam is a religion of violence, aggression and intolerance for non-believers of Islam. Thus, it is necessary to fight against such violent and cruel civilization. As most of the Western public is unaware of the proper teachings of Islam thus, following the 9/11 attack, Western countries got chance to start state violence against innocent Muslim people. There are a number of Western organizations, individuals and media channels which are being projected Muslims and Islam in the way, they want. Western countries have a significant role in intra-state and inter-state conflicts among Muslim states. They do not want stability and peace in the Muslim world to fulfill their own interests i.e. to sell their arms, to enhance their power and resources and to weaken the Muslim community and to spoil the image of Islam.
In Short, Western Nations have very smartly arranged a ground (War against Terrorists i.e. Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS etc) in favor of their own interests, therefore, Muslim world should have to join hand against their mission. All of Muslim countries should jointly take steps to project and propagate true thoughts of Islam in front of the whole world. Moreover, Muslims should try to become true Muslim by practicing the real teachings of Islam as well. Muslim countries have to prepare campaigns to fade up the negative image of Muslims and Islam from the minds of the non-Muslims. As Europeans are using media as a tool to spread anti-Muslim sentiments, likewise, Muslim would have to adapt counter measures in the same way. If Muslims do not take measures to counter Islamophobia thus in future, they will have to confront with severe consequences.