This article will discuss the way the word ‘Islamophobia’ has been used as a political weapon rather than as an honest way of communicating an idea. The main problem arises from the fact that by combining the words ‘Islam’ and ‘phobia’ the resulting term is itself contradictory given current usage. It ignores rational fears that people may have and in the best Stalinist tradition labels those with such fears as being mentally ill.
We will start by showing how the term ‘Islamophobia’ as it is currently used is merely a political tool to shut people up. We will then demonstrate how a word that combines ‘Islam’ and ‘phobia’ could be more appropriately defined. The inclusion of a linguistic component used regularly by psychiatrists will of course be justified in our more logical definition. We will then look at the case of the recent Boston bombing as an example of what happens when Islamophobia as the irrational fear of questioning Islam is not taken into consideration by policymakers who often appear to be its most acute sufferers.
This article will argue that if the world ‘phobia’ is to be used in combination with Islam then it is more appropriate for describing the people who currently wield the term rather than those who are victimised by such people. Islamophobia therefore then defined as ‘the irrational fear of questioning Islam’.
‘Islamophobia’ As A Tool To Shut People Up!
The problem with the term ‘Islamophobia’ is that due to the illogical use to which it has been put, it has managed to elude proper definition. Furthermore, pro-sharia activists and sympathisers prefer to keep the term as nebulous as possible since this assists their agenda. If a rational definition is created then it is more difficult for the term to be used as a tool stifle debate and demonise people.
What has been done with the word ‘Islamophobia’ is part of a trend in which the true meanings of words and language is hollowed out in order to fit the needs of a perverted political agenda. A great many terms have had their meanings blurred to meet the needs of politics rather than communication. The use of the term ‘far right’ to describe anyone who a person disagrees with is an example. How can people defend themselves when they are accused via words and phrases that have lost their original or logical meanings?
Islamophobia has come to be interpreted by many as the irrational fear of Islam or Muslims. The problem arises when its main use is to describe people with quite rational fears. In its report – Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All (1), the Runnymede Trust recognised problems with the term:
“The word is not ideal, but is recognisably similar to ‘xenophobia’ and ‘europhobia, and is a useful shorthand way of referring to dread or hatred of Islam – and, therefore, to fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” (p1)
The report goes on to define the word as follows:
“The term Islamophobia refers to unfounded hostility towards Islam. It refers also to the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs.” (p4)
However, the authors of the report seemed to project their own interpretations of what constituted ‘unfounded’ and ‘unfair’ into the report. The definition thus continued to remain without real meaning. The report went on to use the term in a way that seemed to guide the reader to a predetermined conclusions. It appeared to be used in a way to demonise and delegitimise those who express any negativity towards Islam whether rational or irrational.
A report co-sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)(2) defines an Islamophobe as:
“…an individual who holds a closed-minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims.”
However what is regarded a ‘closed mined’ or ‘prejudiced’ may vary from person to person. The CAIR report tries to be helpful by providing more clarity when it states:
“Questioning Islam or Muslims is not Islamophobia”
Nevertheless large numbers of people who have only questioned Islam are still labelled ‘Islamophobes’. An article at Salon.com entitled ‘The 10 most Islamophobic moments in the 2012 elections’(3) illustrates the point. In that article people who have asked awkward questions about Islam are singled out and labelled as Islamophobes! Thus even with the proviso provided by the CAIR sponsored report, the term is still used as a political weapon rather than as a way to describe something specific that warrants being related to mental illness. Currently, those using the term ignore the past conquests of non-Muslim lands, the vanished civilisations such as those of Byzandium and Sassanid Persia, and what Samuel Huntington referred to as Islam’s current “bloody borders” (4). They also ignore the nature of sharia with its hostility to freedom of expression, its second class status of non-Muslims and women, its inhumane punishments, etc. Far from being irrational those who acknowledge these facts do so in the most lucid and serious frames of mind.
An explanation for this illogical term and its baffling usage can be found by looking at its origins. According to journalist and author Claire Berlinski the term “Islamophobia” was in fact specifically invented by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization(5). It was developed to snuff out rational debate, to belittle reasonable concerns, and to impose the sharia prohibition against criticism of Islam onto non-Muslim societies. It was thus set up as an effective tool to assist Islamic proselytization at the expense of other values and belief systems.
Rather than those who, for rational reasons, question Islam, it seems that it is those who refuse to question it are the ones that are exhibiting irrational behaviour. It is therefore more appropriate to define Islamophobia as “the irrational fear of questioning Islam”.
Islamophobia As An Actual Phobia
For Islamophobia to be an actual phobia it is necessary to redefine the usage of the term. Those who have abused the English language by creating a term that combines Islam’ and ‘phobia’, while not demonstrating how the new word describes an actual phobia, have lost the right to determine what the word means because clearly they do not respect the idea that meaning should actually be based on the logic of language.
‘Islam’ and ‘phobia’ if combined to create a new word must be true to the meanings of each component word. If there is anything in Islam that is capable of producing rational fear then its combination with phobia is illogical when applied to people who give voice to such rational fears.
However, the rules of language are respected if something relating to Islam creates an irrational fear. Fear of questioning Islam is such an irrational impulse. It would only be rational to fear questioning Islam if something bad were to happen to you if you did so. But we are told repeatedly that Islam is a religion of peace and that there is no compulsion in religion. We are also told by governments in the West that still we enjoy freedom of speech.
Why then does anyone have a rational excuse not to criticise a religion? Since there is only one religion that people seem to have a fear of questioning then we have indeed discovered a logical reason for combining Islam’ and ‘phobia’ into a single word. Thus it would be logical to define the term islamophobia as a condition experienced by those who exhibit an irrational fear of questioning Islam.
Those who fear to practice rigorous analysis because their main priority is adherence to the ideology of political correctness are the ones who are exhibiting the characteristics of a phobia. After all, such behaviour is irrational, illogical, and contrary to the most basic rules of scientific method.
Islamophobia as the pathology that drives people towards irrational behaviour manifests itself in many unusual behaviours. Politicians become willing to ignore the national interest or the will of those who elected them. Countries which claim to be democratic become hostile to the only true democracy in the Middle East. The state as rational actor (one of the most basic assumptions of international relations theory) is transformed into an irrational player on the international stage where the national interest is turned in on itself. Such actors contribute to the instability of the international system and thus pose a grave threat to civilisation. That is why Islamophobia, the fear of questioning Islam, is such an essential topic for debate.
Real Islamophobes under our more logical definition have other significant characteristics. They refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, certain aspects of Islamic doctrine can motivate individuals to carry out the most heinous of acts. It is neither our purpose nor our intention here to demonise Muslims but to seek acknowledgement that some aspects of Islamic teaching may motivate people to attack the non-Muslim world. The vast majority of Muslims are decent hardworking and conscientious individuals who just want to live their lives in peace. However, the aspects of doctrine that can and do inspire violence need to be discussed and analysed in the cool light of day. Only by discussing the issues can natural and justifiable fears be allayed and rational policy making take place.
Islamophobia as the fear of questioning Islam results in many other strange phenomena, some recent examples include:
- Christian schools ban the singing of hymns (6)
- Israeli citizen banned from Israeli territory (7)
- Medical professionals cease following established rules of hygiene (8).
- Relaxed border controls for citizens of Saudi Arabia come into force (9) – the very country from which most of the 9/11 bombers originated which made strict border controls necessary in the first place.
- Inexplicable deportation in the interests of national security being carried out (10).
The list could go on and on! What are these if they are not crystal clear manifestations of madness? This is a serious question especially when many of those exhibiting the symptoms are the same people who run countries and shape our world.
The Boston Bombing As The Result of Phobia
Arguably the irrational fear of questioning Islam is what allowed the recent Boston bombing to be carried out. An article from The Washington Times makes the point:
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s failure to recognize political Islam as a driver of jihadist terrorism is partly to blame for the FBI not identifying one of the Boston Marathon bombers in 2011 as a security risk, according to U.S. officials and private counterterrorism analysts.” (11)
Indeed, voices were raised in concern when the Obama Administration revised rules of engagement with regard to monitoring of potential terrorists. An article at the Westminster Institute explains:
“The White House has initiated a secretive review of all federal law enforcement and military counter-terrorism training. This process has already blacklisted several recognized authorities and is expected to forbid future use of terms such as “jihad” or “Islamist terrorism.” Counter-terrorism experts and federal agents are critical of the initiative, which appears to be driven more by concerns about offending Muslims – and Muslim lobbying organizations – than by concern for American national security.” (12)
Another article at Front Page Magazine referred to the problem in its title as “Terrorist? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (13) in reference to the FBI’s “Guiding Principles: Touchstone Document on Training” (14) which states that training must give recognition to the principle:
“…that mere association with organizations that demonstrate both legitimate (advocacy) and illicit (violent extremism) objectives should not automatically result in a determination that the associated individual is acting in furtherance of the organization’s illicit objective(s).”
When people are afraid to raise an issue due to the risk of being demonised or disciplined in their work for security organizations like the FBI then that fear is a great motivator for ignoring real world problems. The minds that have created such taboos obviously live on a plane of existence far removed from deafening signals of danger that sound out like sirens in the real world. They are the Islamophobes who have an irrational fear of questioning Islam.
It is the lack of due diligence of those who occupy positions of power while simultaneously suffering from this condition of real Islamophobia who bear responsibility for letting events like the Boston bombing happen. Since their errors were made potentially from a psychiatric condition, then we should not judge them too harshly, it is not their fault. They should be pitied and given all the help and assistance that they need in order to return to good health. However, they are clearly unfit to remain in positions of power and influence.
It is quite clear that the Islamophobia that results from fear of questioning Islam needs to be properly researched and those who suffer from it effectively diagnosed. Perhaps such people should avoid positions in which they would find themselves exposed to the ideas of other people. Fields like politics and the media should therefore really be avoided by such people. In any case effective policy making requires lawmakers to be open to all ideas so that they can make the most appropriate decisions. Unfortunately current policy making seems to be lacking in objective reasoning and the result is illogical legislation and unhappy societies. End Islamophobia now!
(1) Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All. Runnymede Trust 1997.
(2) Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States – January 2009-December 2010. Report co-sponsored report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
(3) The 10 most Islamophobic moments in the 2012 elections. Jillian Rayfield and Alex Seitz-Wald. Salon.com. October 20, 2012.
(4) The Clash of Civilisations, Samuel Huntington, Foreign Affairs Vol. 72 No. 3, Summer 1993, p35.
(5) Moderate Muslim Watch: How the Term “Islamophobia” Got Shoved Down Your Throat. Claire Berlinski. ricochet.com. November 24, 2010.
(6) Anglican School Drops Christian Hymns. Jackie Bruchi. Standfirminfaith.com. April 23, 2013.
(7) Feiglin: Netanyahu barred me from Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Post. 29 April, 2013.
(8) UK allows Muslim nurses to not wash to protect their “modesty”. The European Union Times. April 21, 2010
(9) Obama approves ‘trusted traveler’ status for Saudis. WorldTribune.com. April 1, 2013.
(10) The Saudi Saga: Key Information Still Being Revealed In Case Of Former ‘Person Of Interest’ Gov’t Considered Deporting. Jason Howerton. The Blaze. April 18, 2013.
(11) Blind Eye: Conciliatory FBI policies toward Islamism hampered probe into Boston bombers. Bill Gertz. The Washington Times. April 23, 2013.
(12) White House Review Threatens Counter-Terrorism Operations. Westminster Institute. November 22.
(13) Terrorist? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Matthew Vadum. FrontPageMag. September 25, 2012.
(14) The FBI’s Guiding Principles: Touchstone Document on Training – 2012. U.S. Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation.