Fear of Islam (Islamophobia)

“I met a Brit one day at an international social, and the first question he asked me seeing I wore the Nigeria tag was ‘do you want to make a dupe of me.’ And he said it three times! In an interestingly serious tone and with a straightened face. The attempt at conversation was over.”

By definition, all phobias have a negative connotation. It is therefore unjust to tag something that could be neutral or rational as permanently negative. Great PR, an erosion of values, and a confusion of meaning could do this.

When one considers the jihads of Muhammed’s era, and subsequent eras, returning in the so-called modern world, people reasonably develop and evolve fears that Islam is a keg of gunpowder. (“When will it not be an era of the so-called violent jihad?” She asked.)

Beyond the connotation, the sense of the use of word Islamophobia is mostly negative—as gleaned from the news and the ‘net. People have been accused of islamophobia as if their fears are all irrational, as if it were a disease to be cured. This is wrong because the use many times assumes inordinate reaction, and ignores that some of those accused of it give well-reasoned and rational motives for their reactions.

When Arab Muslims get ‘extended’ treatment at some airports? It’s nothing personal, and certainly islamophobia—perhaps crossed with the fear of Muslims. It’s a simple principle at work; there is a cause.

The same principle occurs with countries (and peoples) stereotyping Nigerians and checking with extra care their travel documents and luggage at some airports (putting it nicely, some would say). For Nigerians, this is unfair to say the least. And we express displeasure with that country’s policy, and anger against the Nigerians that made something that should be fast and straightforward, hard for the rest of us. Then we trod on saying they’re racist and nigeriaphobic.

Is the principle universally wise?

Would it be right to call islamophobia racism or persecution? Would calling this racism trivialise racism and the experience of blacks in the then apartheid Americas and South Africa. Religious sentiments, funny thinking, and pride calls Islamophobia racism and a persecution of muslims when it fundamentally can’t be.

“People did not just read the book, they read his life. Believing him to have lived the ideal way, to have lived the doctrine, led many to want to follow the same path. With the motivating quotes, regardless of explanations and any counter-quotes, there’s that example of action and life that some prefer to follow.”

What we’ve said generally is that Islamophobia is reasonably a human response to ‘experience,’ and should not just be waived off as unfair to Islam and Muslims, or irrational. We’ve said that it isn’t really a phobia. Issues only potentially arise with people’s response to their fears: whether it leads to reasonably irrational behaviour given the context.

Fear of Islam and fear of muslims are not the same thing. But fear of Islam has led to the fear of, hatred, and prejudice against muslims for many people. We should all kick against this.

Footnote:
Phobia: An anxiety disorder characterised by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations [Wordnet].

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