Opinion Piece

Ideological Islamophobia: Conception and Function, 'Normative Truths' and 'New Reality'

Islamophobia has emerged as one of the grisly realities of the 21st century that has testified, to some extent, the very ideology of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. The very misinterpreted and misperceived ideals have greatly harmed the interests of civilizations at large – and of Muslims particularly. We witness across the world that extreme tendencies are increasing in different parts of the world and in different communities belonging to different cultures and religions.

Muslim Institute believes that current gruesome situation could not be dealt with mere condemnations but requires a thorough study of this menace and chalk out of the guiding principles. To understand and address this issue MUSLIM Institute has published research article of Dr. Chris Allen (Centre for Hate Studies, Department of Criminology, University of Leicester, UK) titled, “Ideological Islamophobia: Conception and Function, ‘Normative Truths’ and ‘New Reality’”. The study was published in Institute's open-access quarterly journal "MUSLIM PERSPECTIVES". Keeping in the view the issue of Islamophobia being highlighted across the world after the terrorist attacks on Muslims in New Zealand, a brief discussion from the article is given below and a link to the complete article is also provided to further the research and assist in formulation of appropriate policies.

“Acknowledging that Islamophobia remains a relatively embryonic topic for scholarly investigation, this article positions itself within the newly emergent field of critical Islamophobia studies, setting out to contribute new thinking in order to better conceive, conceptualise and subsequently understand Islamophobia…this article confirms to the requirements of a theoretical case study: most appropriate for exploring the theory and concept of ideological Islamophobia…To this extent, it might be suggested that Islamophobia has in fact acquired a new level of social and political acceptability in many other national settings across the contemporary Western world.”

“The ongoing contestation about Islamophobia evolve out of claims about what it is and how to define it…Given this has not seemingly hindered the significant advances made in rightfully recognising and subsequently countering racism and other discriminatory phenomena, then so too must this be applicable to Islamophobia. The non-existence of a single definition is therefore far from being a valid reason for contestation let alone dismissal. While there is always space for further thinking as regards the process of definition it cannot be deployed as a means of denying that Islamophobia exists.”

Al Noor Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand – via SBS

“A number of characteristics relevant to Islamophobia in all its different settings and manifestations can be identified. First, Islamophobia is neither consistent nor uniform, suggesting the possibility of a plurality of ‘Islamophobias’ or at least a multiplicity of understandings and interpretations. Second, whilst there is some asymmetrical shifting between notions of Muslim and Islam for it to be Islamophobia (as opposed racism of which there is evidence of some overlap) it is essential that a distinct ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ identifier or identification process is evident whether explicit or implicit, overt or covert. Third, Islamophobia can be made known through meanings that are theological, social, cultural, racial and so on, at times not even necessarily naming or mentioning either ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ but providing enough nuanced meaning to ensure identification. Fourth, such expressions and manifestations are typically shaped and determined by the national, cultural, geographical and socio-economic conditions within which such become known. Meanings therefore may be the same but the manifestation quite different.”


Countering the New Reality


“Countering ideological Islamophobia necessarily requires the consideration of the concept of universal rights. Such rights establish a clear set of moral principles or ‘norms’ that not only ascribe certain standards of behaviour and action but are so too inalienable in that every individual is entitled to them without differentiation. Simple and straightforward, they can be universally applied to all irrespective of nationality, status, language, ethnicity, religion or indeed any other marker that may be comprised within an individual’s identity.”

“The concept of universal rights would appear to have a number of distinct positives when considering ideological Islamophobia. First, using the language of universal rights would bring international attention to the global relevance and resonance of the ‘new reality’ of Islamophobia. Second, it would go some way to aligning the need to address and duly counter Islamophobia with the need to counter the oppression and inequalities experienced by others around the world. Finally, framing Islamophobia within the context of universal rights would go some way to bringing pressure on those such as the United States to uphold and respect not only the ideals and freedoms inscribed in its Constitution but so too the various international universal rights treaties and declarations it is a signatory to.”

“There is a very real need to better understand Islamophobia in all its component forms, especially at the global ideological level. At this level, the means by which Muslims and Islam are conceived and subsequently referred to have the very real potential to underpin and thereby shape and inform a whole range of different prejudices, discriminations and hatreds as also exclusionary practices in vastly different settings and locations. Irrespective of whether true or untrue, fact or fiction, real or imaginary ideological Islamophobia has the potential to transcend that which separates the local, national, regional and global. Whether contextualised socially, politically or economically, ideological Islamophobia is that which contemporarily informs and provides meaning about Muslims and Islam, whether through operation, dissemination, reception or perpetuation. It is also that which we have the least knowledge about and worryingly, the least means by which to challenges and subsequently counter. This is the ‘new reality’.”


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