Islamophobia is on the Sharp rise. Incidents like derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad witnesses this reality. One can think how international treaties and resolutions condemning religious intolerance and violence are effective to combat islamophobia. Are these declarations have any real value or these are just serving as the one time pomp and show.
Recognition to Islamophobia
Undoubtedly, United Nations’ adoption of 15 March as a day to combat islamophobia has a high symbolic value. It proclaims that “terrorism and extremism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group”. March 15 also marks the anniversary of infamous attack and killing of 50 Muslim worshippers in the mosque of New Zealand.
As, the most applauded feature is Its ability to give highest political recognition to the hardships of Muslims all over the world. So, this will help tracking the anti-Muslim sentiments and violations.
But the crucial question is about its application on the real basis. How will it impact the laws and policies of the countries? Can it change the mindset of higher authorities and the general public towards brotherhood, equality, peaceful diversity and inclusive culture?
March 15 will serve as a day to remind people and institutions about the violence and problems of Muslim. It will make political leaders accountable for their efforts towards security of Muslims from negative agendas, persecutions, and elimination. Though, consequences are unclear for the larger impacts of the UN declaration to combat islamophobia.
It is based on a 1981 resolution of the UN that calls for the elimination of all forms of descriminations and intolerance based on a particular religion or belief.
Consequently, this resolution asks all the UN organisations, countries, NGOs, private organisations and faith based institutions to make efforts in creating awareness for fighting islamophobia at all levels.
Rise of Global Islamophobia
United Nations Human Rights Council reports that sentiments for islamophobia has increased drastically. UN Secretary-General António Guterres in March 2021 highlighted the issue of anti-muslim sentiments, discrimination and violence. He said, “unfortunately, far too often, stereotypes are further compounded by elements of the media and some in positions of power. Anti-Muslim bigotry is sadly in line with other distressing trends we are seeing globally.”
Islamophobia has emerged as a new form of racism. It has elements of stereotyping of Muslims and development of a negative profile against them. Consequently, this negative profiling and stereotypes creates hatred and violent acts against Muslims around the world. Now, the world can witness acts of prohibiting their choice of attire, ways of worship, and freedom of religious expression like hijab ban in India, burkini issue in France and demolition of worship places. Likewise, police raids like Operation Luxor by Austria shows the repression of Muslim communities and worst form of human rights violations. Other issues are hardships and refugee problems of Muslim minority communities in many countries of the world like Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and Uighur Muslims in China.
In recent times, there has been a rise by the far right groups and political parties to exploit general fear of Islam and gain political mileage.
Under such circumstances, UN declaration can be a relief and tool to combat islamophobia.
Association of Politics with Islamophobia
Today, the world is witnessing an interplay between islamophobia, security and violent extremism. Post 9/11 incidents, islamophobia has been spreading fast and presenting Islam and Muslims as new enemies for the world and its security. Muslims witness growing hostility and suspicion throughout the world after 9/11.
Later, islamophobia also being attached with immigrants and terrorist threats. This combination create huge wave of fear and recognition to threat from Islam and Muslims.
Even Far right groups in different countries begin to play with islamophobia as a perfect toy to create fear and mistrust among the public.
The concept of enemies within that pointed towards the Muslim immigrants or homegrown Muslim population especially in European countries rises. As a result, this concept gives an opportunity for anti-immigrants and far right groups to attach terrorism and security threats to the Muslims. It enhanced the suspicion, fear and hostility among different communities and led to the policing of Muslims.
Untrue narratives are being spread fast even in the mainstream media about Islam and Muslims to gain acceptability in media and among wider public for islamophobia.
Consequently, We can witness many anti-Muslim laws and policies passed by the governments. Like, we see how France prohibited headscarves and the Indian state of Karnataka banned hijab in public schools.
Even there exists discriminatory visa restrictions and travel bans.
Further, Identify politics and increased securitization is also fuelling the sentiments against Islam and giving rise to islamophobia.
Negative Impacts on Social Structure.
Islamophobia is clearly dividing people on the lines of religion. It is serving as a double-edged sword for society. Muslims are bearing hardships and alienation. Religion is becoming the core issue for the people. Hence, politics is also intensely focusing towards divisive agendas. Likewise, Media is feeding on shows and discussions full of hate speech, religious allegations and prove of religious supremacy. Islamophobia has been impacting the lives of millions of people around the world and causing threat to internal security, fragmenting societies and leading to lack of social cohesion. Overall, it diplays exremist views and narratives against Muslims and Islam and put them under suspicion.
Time to combat Islamophobia
Now is a time to recognise different forms of islamophobia that exist in different parts of the world. It is a new form of racism. Consequently, hate speech, violence and discrimination are the tools to spread fear against Muslims causing anger and frustration in Muslim world. We witnessed a joint condemnation of Muslim world against the derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad by an official of a ruling party in India.
It is particularly a relief for the Muslim women and girls in the context of gender aspects of islamiphobia. As it is a reality that Muslim women gains more hatred and attention for their visible attires. They also have been stereotyped as a symbol of oppression who should be liberated.
Islamophobia is creating a threat to world peace and prosperity. So, diversification of religious beliefs and expressions are necessary to achieve human, religious and cultural freedom.
Hence, such a political recognition of islamophobia would help curb the state-sponsored hatred and persecution against Muslims.
Now, the challenge is to ensure the implementation of the resolution to combat islamophobia.
Can We Eliminate Islamophobia completely or Is It There to Stay?
Islamophobia focuses on cultural and religious differences. It represents muslims as sexist, inferior, barbaric, primitive, violent and supportive to terrorism. Islamophobes highly politicized the Islam and make it a sort of militant ideology. Hence, justify the discrimination and hostility against Muslims. Some of the major causes behind continous fuelling of Islamophobia are refugee crisis, migration issues, deteriorating living conditions, failure of mainstream politics, terrorist attacks and internal security threats. So, It is important to tackle these issues. Otherwise, it might be diffiicult to eliminate Islamophobia. Further, normalization of islamophobic speech and anti-immigration rhetoric is a rising phenomenon escalating hate and tensions among societies.
Islamophobia is here to stay if the world is going to witness normalization of anti-immigration discussions, hate speeches, attachement of terrorism with Islam and Muslims without understanding the real root cause.