By Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin
January 27, 2019
ISLAMOPHOBIA in the context of this article encompasses a wider spectrum of meaning than just prejudice and phobia from without the Islamic community but includes also the prejudice within the community.
Both the external and internal aggressions towards the religion involve the same elements of subjugation, persecution and genocide.
Islamophobia has been ongoing since the inception of this faith in Arabia. It elicited such response because it posed a threat to the polytheistic beliefs then.
Although Islam emerged from the early books such as the Zabur, Torah and the Testaments finally taking the form of the Quran yet these Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are at loggerheads with each other.
The demonising and prejudice against Islam began in the early days of its emergence. The march of Islam was relentless threatening polytheistic beliefs, as well as Christianity, becoming a force majeure in the 10th century prompting the launch of the Crusades against Islam.
The west condemned Islam as a religion of strife and strain and with a backward mentality. They ignored Muslim scholars and scientists’ contribution to the development of science, mathematics, governance, astronomy and philosophy.
This golden era of Muslim intellectualism faltered and filtered out when Western countries in one way or another subjugated Muslim nations at some time in the history of the Islamic world and exploited them to serve their vested economic and political agenda, thereby suppressing the economic and intellectual development of these Islamic states both in the west and in the east.
They, therefore, became easy prey for the Western countries to exploit their resources for their own hegemonic supremacy.
But when oil became an economic and military weapon, the west embarked on a mission to control these Islamic countries through militarisation and economic exploitation as well as creating instability in the region just so they could control the precious hydrocarbon resources of the Muslim world.
After the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 further conflicts morphed into localised Israeli-Palestinian conflicts such as the Lebanon War of 1982.
This conflict continued with smaller clashes between the Israelis, Hizbollah and Hamas. And now we have the Syrian conflict that involves the United States, pro and anti-government groups that has caused untold suffering. This is further compounded by the Saudi-American action against Yemen.
All of these conflicts were associated with Islam, making it to be a violent religion and its adherents, terrorists. What more with the Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The US has used this “breeding terrorists” label on Islam to further its Islamophobia agenda. All violence and terrorists’ acts were assigned to Islam. However, similar violence perpetrated by non-Muslims is dismissed as localised criminal acts.
Islamophobia sentiments intensified after the 9/11 Twin Towers incident that was blamed on the Arab al-Qaeda terrorists.
This prompted President George Bush Jr to invade Iraq on the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction, when they actually had none. Iraq became a stooge of America and Israel and provided a solid base for the American hegemonic agenda. As a reaction to this invasion, there emerged the terrorist groups Isis which gave Islam a bad name and provided the excuse to fuel the Islamophobia sentiments.
Their executions of journalists and suspected American spies earned them the label of a barbaric, inhuman Islamic group. They now operate around the border areas of Iraq and Syria and at times encroach on Turkey.
Islamic State of Levant, al-Qaeda and the Taliban now serve as the target of Islamophobia exploited by the Western media that emphasise the atrocities purportedly committed by them. And they highlight the sympathisers of Isis both in the eastern and Western countries who were supposed to join the fighting in Syria.
This Islamophobia sentiment is also given impetus by these main groups as well as their splinter groups that caused mayhem through bomb explosions and killings in London, Paris and Germany. Their counterpart in the east, namely the Abu Sayyaf militants, mainly centred in Mindanao, the Philippines and in Indonesia, contributes to the sentiments of Islamophobia.
The Western media exploited these incidents to create a prejudicial and negative image of Islam. All these groups are militants with a political agenda and have nothing to do with the advancement of Islam, which is a peaceful religion.
They are responsible for feeding the Islamophobia sentiments among the non-Muslims. As a result, the world has become jittery and paranoid with Islam.
Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin is an emeritus professor at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang