The issue of Islamophobia, as well as the term itself is relatively new, even though the phenomenon of exaggerated fear and prejudiced attitude towards Muslim people has been observed for centuries. Over the last couple of decades, Islamophobia has been aggravated by numerous clashes between the representatives of the Western societies and the individual groups of people originating from Middle East and African countries where Islam is the dominant religion. This happening has been researched by the scholars and experts of various spheres such as sociology, psychology, criminology, politics, public affairs, and international relations.
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The present review studies the problem with the help of different sources such as books, journal articles, news portals, and websites. The issues of Islamophobia is characterised and defined as a concept. Further, the historical changes inflicted by various events are explored in order to follow the development of Islamophobia in the modern society. Next, the outcomes of this phenomenon are discussed. Finally, the pieces of evidence of Islamophobia in different countries are identified and presented. Basically, these are the four categories according to which the sources found for the work on this research will be divided and reviewed.
The Concept of Islamophobia
The Centre for Race and Gender of the University of California provides a detailed explanation and a definition of Islamophobia as a concept. This source refers to the Runnymede Trust Report published in 1991 that gave a start to the use of the term of Islamophobia. According to the report, this term stands for the groundless hostility directed at the representatives of the Islamic cultures (University of California: Center for Race and Gender, 2015). Gallup adds that the Runnymede Trust Report of 1997 provided more detailed information on the phenomenon of Islamophobia outlining several of its main components such as the assumptions that Islam is a fixed culture that cannot adapt to other kinds of lifestyles, that is it a religions based on violence, that its values differ from those of the West, and that is crude, primitive, and barbaric (Gallup, 2015; University of California: Center for Race and Gender, 2015).
Gallup (2015) also mentions an issue of the Runnymede Trust Report that appeared in 2004 and commented on the changes in the social environments in the West after the events of 9/11 and how they complicated the lives of Muslim people living in the UK and the USA. In other words, the massive social panic of the West after the events of 9/11 facilitated the association of all the Muslim individuals with terrorism, tendencies for unreasonable accusations and suspicions resulting in discrimination and marginalisation of the representatives of the Islamic cultures. In fact, about 50% of the population of the UK, Canada, and the USA admit that the Western societies generally are disrespectful towards Muslims, this percentage is slightly lower (but is still very significant in European countries such as Italy, Germany, and France) (Gallup, 2015). The ongoing clashes between the Western and Muslim worlds do not carry only cultural character; they have deteriorated to armed conflicts with thousands of victims. That is why Islamophobia as a phenomenon, social, and political tendency is the question of international relations.
The Development of Islamophobia
As mentioned earlier, Islamophobia is the phenomenon that has been active for quite a long while in the human society. It occurred in Europe after some of the states were taken over and owned by the Ottoman Empire for a long time (Goska, 2015). However, the events of 9/11 that happened in the United States were the point in time that made the rates of hatred towards Muslims skyrocket. In 2001, in the USA alone the number of hate crimes against Muslim individuals grew by 1700% (Khan & Ecklund, 2012). Surprisingly, even now, over a decade after those tragic terroristic attacks, not many psychologists took interest in the problems and roots of Islamophobia even though the rates of it have increased all over the world (Khan & Ecklund, 2012). The study by Khan and Ecklund (2012) compares the patterns of hatred or disrespect towards the Muslim population in the UK and the USA and finds them surprisingly similar with very frequent cases of anti-Muslim discrimination. The cause of this might be an extremely effective media propaganda that frames Islamic cultures as dangerous and hostile.
This source is extremely valuable for the investigation of the causes of Islamophobia and its mechanisms that form public opinions and launch stereotypes. While the authors of this article speak about the similar aspects of the attitudes towards Muslims in the USA and the UK, Goska (2015) discusses the different ideas of the people of Eastern and Western Europe towards the Muslim immigrants and refugees fleeing to the EU these days. The author points out the roots of the Eastern European alertness about the situation, and the Western European acceptance (Goska, 2015).
It seems that the factor of religious differences dominates the Islamophobic moods in the countries such as Poland, whereas Germany is more concerned about the political disagreements (Gallup, 2015; Goska, 2015). CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations) is another resource focused on the diverse attitudes of the Americans to Muslim people. It informs about multiple cases of Islamophobia found in the speeches and statements of the contemporary American politicians who claim that Islam is “not consistent with the US Constitution” (CAIR, 2015). This website explores all forms of Islamophobia present in the USA these days and helps the readers to understand how versatile and harmful stereotypes can be. As one may notice, Islamophobia is a global phenomenon reflecting in various cultures and targeting diverse individuals and groups of people, this issue lies in the international relations of the Islamic and Western societies.
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The Outcomes of Islamophobia
Gottschalk and Greenberg (2008) offer the reader a simple exercise to test their own level of Islamophobia by writing down the images they associate with the words “Muslim” and “Islam”. Such exercise is likely to demonstrate that almost everyone pairs these concepts with violent pictures of suicide bombers, terrorists, and 9/11 attacks. The authors also mention that the contemporary Islamophobia is threatening to grow into the next anti-Semitism of the beginning of the 20th century.
Naturally, the amount of hate and fear directed at Muslim citizens in the Western countries results in oppression and discriminative practices. Islamophobia Today is the news portal that collects and reveals evidence of the cases of discrimination of Muslims. The title of the article “British Muslims Face Worst Job Discrimination of Any Minority Group” speaks for itself as this work explains how Islamophobia prevents Muslim citizens of the UK from getting jobs (Islamophobia Today, 2014). Shryock (2010) mentions in his book that the Muslim presence in the Western world is growing by the year, and this exposes millions of people to discrimination and hostility. However, attraction and repulsion towards the Muslim culture go hand-in-hand in the European countries creating diverse paradoxical moods. The book by Shryock (2010) is helpful for the research as it explains how different the attitudes to Islamic culture can be within one European state.
Islamophobia around the World
The evidence of Islamophobia can be found outside of Europe as well. For instance, Russian leaders have been recently accused of Islamophobic moods as the mayor of Moscow Sobyanin refused to build new mosques for the rapidly increasing Muslim population in the capital that has reached several millions (Aluwaisheg, 2013). At the same time, the speech of President Putin at the recent UN summit showed that the leader is convinced that new mosques are highly important in Russia as their role is to promote the true Islamic values that are peaceful and have positive morals. Moreover, the book by Aslan (2009) reveals that Australia is another country with a massive Muslim presence not only from the Arabic countries but from Asia and Africa, yet all of these cultural groups somehow end up equated with the same collective image of a dangerous and oppressive Muslim person.
To sum up, many of the world’s cultures practice Islam. Muslim cultures can be found in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The representatives of these cultures are diverse, as well as their societies and states. At the same time, whenever they appear in the West they immediately start getting treated like hostile and dangerous persons who cannot be trusted. This is a sign of Islamophobia that may work different ways but still has the same results.
Aluwaisheg, A. A. (2013). Islamophobia in Russia. Web.
Aslan, A. (2009). Islamophobia in Australia. Glebe, N.S.W.: Agora Press.
CAIR. (2015). Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Election. Web.
Gallup. (2015). Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West. Web.
Goska, D. V. (2015). Western European vs. Eastern European Responses to Mass, Unvetted, Muslim Immigration. Web.
Gottschalk, P., & Greenberg, G. (2008). Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy.
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Islamophobia Today. (2014). British Muslims Face Worst Job Discrimination of Any Minority Group. Web.
Khan, M., & Ecklund, K. (2013). Attitudes Toward Muslim Americans Post-9/11. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1).
Shryock, A. (2010). Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
University of California: Center for Race and Gender. (2015). Defining “Islamophobia”. Web.