By Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk
April 6, 2019
IN one of his talk shows, South African comedian Trevor Noah made a very important point on how the Western media has caricatured Islam as a poster child of terrorism and violence. This should come as no surprise as the demonisation of Islam by the West is not something new. As a matter of fact, in Covering Islam, the late Edward Said made it clear that the Western media had purposely distorted the news on Islam and the Middle East to shape a negative view of Arabs and Islam.
While some commentators in the West have tried very hard to discredit Said’s thesis, the plain truth is there for all to see. The Muslim ummah is being vilified and denigrated in all nations and this has resulted in Muslims having the worst possible image in the contemporary world. In the Western media, the Muslim is stereotyped as aggressive, destructive, lawless, terroristic, uncivilised, fanatic, fundamentalist, backward and anachronistic.
Put in another way, the Western media is complicit in shaping anti-Muslim prejudice globally. It should be made clear that racism, discrimination, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are sometimes seen as a natural tendency which mankind resorts to in dealing with the “other”. What is unnatural is the fact that its intensity has not abated. While it may be argued that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon has exacerbated the hatred towards Muslims, it should be pointed out that the systematic vilification of Islam had taken place centuries earlier. It could also be argued that the divide between the West and the Muslim world is largely a consequence of a failure to communicate effectively.
That being said, one must not lose sight of how certain segments of Western society, such as Stop Islamisation of America, Stop Islamisation of Europe, and Stop Islamisation of Nations, had and still are spreading hate messages against Muslims to their constituents.
One of their consistent messages to instil fear in the Western populace is that Muslims are gaining a dangerous level of influence in the West.
The West’s ability to manufacture a monster out of a group of people due to their foreignness is very well documented. Ever since the West’s encounter with the new world, they had to face a sticky situation of reconciling the humanness of the other with their own. The foundation of racism in that the inferiority of “non-Western” people as below the human (non-humans or sub-humans) is defined on their closeness to animality and the latter is defined on the basis of their inferior intelligence and thus lack of rationality.
Racism operates through privileging of an essentialist politics of Western hegemonic tradition that almost never includes “non-Western” peoples. In this tradition, the “West” is considered to be the only legitimate tradition of thought able to produce a higher civilisation. The West considers non-Western traditions as inferior to it. In vilifying Islam, the West has used and still is using a familiar strategy that was used in ostracising communism.
One of the negative repercussions of fear-mongering by anti-Islamic forces is the recent massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. The perpetrator of the heinous act is very much influenced by the white supremacist ideology that dehumanises non-whites. Similarly, what the Islamophobia industry is doing is clearly dehumanising Muslims.
Islamophobia simply means the fear of Islam and Muslims, and that fear has led to hatred and discrimination against Muslims. While some Muslims are equally responsible in creating the atmosphere for Islamophobia to germinate through their violent acts, the Islamophobes in the West have purposely chose not to distinguish the individuals or group that committed the acts from Islam as a religion.
The Islamophobia industry is fundamentally about manufacturing unnecessary fear of Islam and Muslims.
It is out to paralyse the rational impulses of the human mind and inject into it a numbing dose of horror so intensely addictive that the fearful cannot help but beg for more. The small band of fear-mongers that run the Islamophobia industry will do whatever it takes to portray Islam in a bad light. Their tactics involve simply using both the mainstream media and the Internet to distort the information on Islam and spread hatred against Muslims.
What is alarming is the fact that the Islamophobia industry is a growing enterprise, one that is knowledgeable in using misinformation to sow unnecessary alarm against Muslims.
Those who speak out against the Islamophobia industry often do so at great risk. This network is very quick to smear and slander anyone that would challenge them. But it is a risk worth taking.
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