MADRID, March 13 (IPS) – Islamophobia is a “fear, prejudice and hatred of Muslims that leads to provocation, hostility and intolerance through threats, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation against Muslims and non-Muslims, both online and offline- the world.’
Consequently, suspicion, discrimination and “outright hatred” of Muslims have risen to “epidemic proportions”.
These are not the words of this convinced secular journalist, but the words of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
In fact, a recent Report was launched before International Day Against Islamophobia (March 15), warns that, motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility that morphs into structural and cultural racism, it targets the symbols and markers of being Muslim.
This definition It emphasizes the link between institutional levels of Islamophobia and manifestations of such attitudes, triggered by the visibility of the victim’s perceived Muslim identity.
A threat to Western values?
This approach also interprets Islamophobia as a form of racism, where Islamic religion, tradition and culture are seen as a “threat” to “Western values”.
“After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and other horrific acts of terrorism allegedly carried out in the name of Islam, institutional suspicion of Muslims and those perceived as Muslims has escalated to epidemic proportions.”
Widespread negative representations of Islam
At the same time, “widespread negative representations of Islam and harmful stereotypes depicting Muslims and their faith and culture as a threat have served to perpetuate, validate and normalize discrimination, hostility and violence against Muslim individuals and communities.”
Furthermore, in states where they are a minority, “Muslims often experience discrimination in accessing goods and services, in obtaining employment and in education.”
In some states, they are denied citizenship or legal immigration status because of xenophobic perceptions that Muslims represent national security and terrorist threats. Muslim women are disproportionately exposed to Islamophobic hate crimes, adds United Nations.
Islamophobic “hate crimes”
Studies show that the number of Islamophobic hate crimes often increases after events beyond the control of most Muslims, including terrorist attacks and anniversaries of such attacks.
“These triggering events illustrate how Islamophobia can attribute collective responsibility to all Muslims for the actions of a select few, or feed on inflammatory rhetoric.”
The UN says many governments have taken steps to combat Islamophobia by introducing anti-hate crime legislation and measures to prevent and deter hate crimes and by conducting public information campaigns about Muslims and Islam to dispel negative myths and misconceptions.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by 60 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which designated March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
The resolution emphasizes that “terrorism and violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”
It calls for a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace, based on respect for human rights and for the diversity of religions and beliefs.
Marks the first international day To combat Islamophobia in 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that “anti-Muslim bigotry is part of a larger trend of a resurgence of ethno-nationalism, neo-Nazism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable populations including Muslims, Jews, some Christian minority groups, as well as others.”
… and a plan
In response to the “alarming trend” of increasing hate speech around the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched The UN’s strategy and action plan against hate speech.
The strategy clearly states that hate speech encourages violence and intolerance.
The devastating effect of hatred, it adds, is unfortunately nothing new. But its scope and impact are now amplified by new communication technologies.
“Hate speech – including online – has become one of the most common ways to spread divisive rhetoric on a global scale and threaten peace around the world.”
With an estimated 1.8 billion adherents worldwide, Islam is the second most widespread faith after Christianity (2.2 billion).
Here it should be reminded of that not all Arabs are Muslims, nor are all Muslims Arabs.
In fact, Arab countries are home to only slightly more than 1 in 4 Muslims worldwide, while Asia – particularly South and Southeast Asia – accounts for more than 60% of the world’s Muslims.
The largest Muslim population in a single country lives in Indonesia, which is home to 13% of all the world’s Muslims. Pakistan (at 12%) is the second largest Muslim-majority nation, followed by India (11%) and Bangladesh (10%).
Even the Arabs
Despite the above, there is still a widespread perception of mixing Muslims with Arabs, which extends the anti-Muslim hate wave to all Arab or Arab communities.
Be that as it may, recent history shows that several Muslim countries have fallen victim to war and military occupation (Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen), while others are scenarios of strong instability (Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, just to name a few).
No lessons have been learned from horrific crimes committed against believers. Remember the Holocaust against the Jews?
The evidence is that racism, “xenophobia and related discrimination and intolerance exist in all societies, everywhere. Racism not only damages the lives of those who are exposed to it, but also society as a whole.” stated UN chief.
“We all lose in a society characterized by discrimination, division, mistrust, intolerance and hatred. The fight against racism is everyone’s fight…”
Yes, but is it… really?
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service