Islam and Muslim Contact Unit Essay - 1695 Words

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Islam and Muslim Contact Unit

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Text Preview The term "Islamophobia" was first used in print in 1991 and was defined in the Runnymede Trust Report as "unfounded hostility towards Islam, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims." The word has been coined because there is a new reality which needs naming — anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed so that it can be identified and acted against. (Sajid 2005) The term "Islamophobia" was coined by way of analogy to "xenophobia", which is a dislike or fear of people from other countries or of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Some definitions suggest xenophobia as arising from irrationality or unreason; this can also be said for islamophobia. Islamophobia can be characterized by the belief that all or most Muslims are religious fanatics, have violent tendencies towards non- Muslims, and reject concepts such as equality, tolerance, and democracy. It is a new form of racism where Muslims, an ethno-religious group, are constructed as a race. A set of negative assumptions are made of the entire group to the detriment of members of that group. During the 1990s many sociologists and cultural analysts observed a shift in racist ideas from ones based on skin color to ones based on notions of cultural superiority and otherness. (Sajid 2005) In Britain and other European or Western countries, Manifestations of anti-muslim hostility has been exemplified in many verbal as well as physical attacks on Muslims in public places and attacks on mosques and desecration of Muslim cemeteries. Before 9/11, in Western countries negative stereotypes and remarks in speeches by political leaders, implying that Muslims are less committed than others to democracy and the rule of law. There was a rise in the number of hate crimes against Muslims in London in 2010, these hate crimes were being encouraged by mainstream politicians and sections of the media, a study written by a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer, published January 26, 2010, says that attacks ranging from death threats and murder to persistent low-level assaults, such as spitting and name-calling, are in part whipped up by extremists and sections of mainstream society. Lambert headed Scotland Yard's Muslim contact unit, which helped improve relations between the police and Britain's Islamic communities. The study mentions no newspapers or writers by name, but alleges that the book Londonistan, by the Mail writer Melanie Phillips, played a part in triggering hate crimes. Londonistan is a book about the spread of Islamism in the United Kingdom over the past twenty years. When London was hit by suicide bombers in July 2005, the dirty little secret was finally out. Great Britain had been the European hub of Islamist extremism for more than a decade. Under the noses of British intelligence, a network of terrorists and their sympathizers had used Britain to plot, finance, recruit and train for atrocities in the United States and around the world. The scale of this activity was so large that exasperated European security agencies dubbed Britain's capital city Londonistan. (Phillips 2006). In Europe and in America as well, it can be seen in widespread and routine negative stereotyping in the media and everyday discourse in ways that would not be acceptable if the reference were, for example, to Jewish or black people. (Dodd 2010) Islamophobia is heightened by a number of contextual factors. One of these is the fact that a high proportion of refugees are Muslims. Demonization of refugees is therefore frequently a coded attack on Muslims, for the words "Muslim," "asylum-seeker," "refugee," and "immigrant" become synonymous in the popular imagination. In this case, the common experiences of immigrant communities with unemployment, rejection, alienation and violence have combined with Islamophobia to make integration really difficult. This has led Muslim communities to suffer... Show More

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