An anti-Muslim sentiment has grown rapidly in the Western world ever since the events of the 9/11 attack in New York and the 7/7 bombing in London. Multiple terror attacks have taken place for which ‘Islamist’ terror groups have taken credit and as a result, the fear of Muslims in the west has increased. Portrayal of Muslims in media is almost always negative and many people seem to be oblivious to the impact this can have on Muslims, particularly those of a young age.
Muslims in the West face hatred for mundane things such as wearing a hijab or praying in public. These same things are done by people of other religions. Christian nuns also cover their heads at all times, for example, yet it is only Muslims that must put up with constant discrimination for doing so. Unfortunately, Western society has largely decided to blame all Muslims for the evil actions of a minority group. Apparently, it is possible to differentiate between a normal Christian and the Klu Klux Klan but not between a normal Muslim and the ‘Islamic State’. Not only does this mean Muslims are unfairly targeted for their religion but it can also lead some on a path to radicalisation and Western society has chosen to ignore its role in this.
Recently in the UK, news broke of a Muslim woman who fantasised of killing the highly controversial and overtly Islamophobic journalist, Katie Hopkins, calling her the ‘biggest kuthi [bitch] of them all.’ Madihah Taheer, aged 21, had made a list of people she wanted her partner to kill which also included Paul Golding, the co-leader of far-right party Britain First. She clearly wanted to target those who’d made public their Islamophobia in attempt to silence them. Both targets were people who have frequently expressed views that lead to greater negative stereotyping of Muslims and hatred towards them. They have been known to falsify information in order to portray Islam in a bad light.
Whilst murder is unacceptable, one must not ignore how Islamophobia and radicalisation have a causal link in this situation. Madihah is just one example of a Muslim who’d grown tired of constant hate directed at their religion. Unfortunately her tiredness led her to radicalisation. In this instance, Islamophobia produced an extremist.
Another example of this is Tania Georgelas, a former IS bride from London, who claimed she became radicalised as a result of racism she’d experienced in the UK. In an interview, she told the Atlantic that racism had fueled her hatred for the West which eventually led her to travel to Syria with her husband so her family could become IS fighters there. Tania experienced racism at a young age and by 17 she’d become ‘really jihadi hardcore’ just after the 9/11 attack. If she had not been so subjected to a feeling that she was hated by the majority of society it is likely that Tania would never have become an IS bride in the first place. Her radicalisation occurred because racism had made her a soft target for what was essentially brainwashing.
It is very easy for us in the west to criticise Islam and proclaim that, “it has no place in our society” but in reality Islam is just another religion that has been manipulated to justify hatred. The religion itself promotes love and peace and the vast majority of Muslims agree with this. Frankly if they did not agree, with there being 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, we would not stand a chance.
Islamophobia is counter-intuitive, hating Muslims will only lead to more Muslims hating you. This is not to say that all Muslims hate anyone that hates them but rather that discriminating against them will not be of any benefit to any person who wants to see an end to self-proclaimed Muslim attacks. It’s simply logical that feeling like everyone around you despises you will lead to some sort of resentment towards them. This is how people end up radicalised, your islamophobia only promotes the idea of war between the West and Islam which IS and other Islamist terror groups justify their attacks with. We all have our own identities based on our perceptions of ourselves and the perception others have on us. Therefore, being labelled a terrorist (despite being nothing of the sort) can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A young Muslim may be pushed to become what everyone believes they are because of this.
It’s time for Western society to take some responsibility for our actions. Yes, it is totally permissible to hate the terrorists who have killed innocent people not just in the West but around the world (which people seem to conveniently forget) but it is not right to direct your hate to people who have no part in that terrorism simply because some terrorists claim to share their religion. Islamophobia is cyclical, it comes as the result of these terror attacks but can lead to radicalisation which will only result in more of these attacks.
Stop pointing the finger at Muslims who are on your side, they resent terrorism just as much as anyone else but if our society continues to push them out it is inevitable that some will be pushed to the very thing we are trying to oppose. Stop alienating Muslims, isolation leads to vulnerability and eventually can result in cases like that of Tania Georgelas. Stop your islamophobia, it fuels radicalisation and encourages persecution of innocent people from any ethnic or religious background.