March 10, 2011 2 Comments
First used in the 1970s to characterize the “Islamists” that questioned the holy texts, the term has evolved over time and nowadays is used to describe pretty much anyone who criticizes Islam. The local pseudo secularist/progressivist Islamic bunch throw this word around a lot these days so I decided to do some digging.
Its sounds a lot like Xenophobia doesn’t it? The term does carry a lot of negative connotations, in which case it is more than worthwhile that we spend some time analyzing this recent phenomenon. Does criticizing Islam (or any other religion for that matter) warrant the use of such a label? I’m sure we can all agree that Xenophobia has a tangible and detrimental effect on any society in the world. From the massacre in Rwanda to the Holocaust, it becomes pretty clear that the hatred that one group of people have against another, solely based on their race can be exploited by many entities for their advantage with horrifying consequences.
Is Islamaphobia a genuine phenomenon? I mean is it important to characterize and label a certain individual as an Islamaphobic based on an a priori assumption that said individual would commit a violent act against an Islamist? or is there something more fishy and even sinister going on?
Criticism of a particular ideology or position should not warrant a label with (obvious) negative connotations. We are free to criticize political positions ideologies and parties, we are free to criticize scientific theories. Should this not be the case when it comes to Religion? our opinions on such matters should not be stifled by petty name calling, especially when such a label has such obvious connotations and is derivative of a term held to be a description of a disgusting position taken by man against another race. Being anti Islamic does not mean that one is willing to kill and destroy all Islamists. I am of the opinion that the group that coined this term and subsequently spread this term made a purposeful attempt to keep the meaning of this term vague, open and ambiguous. A cunning move. What are the lines of demarcation? what qualities constitute an Islamaphobic? the qualitative definitions vary from region to region and this has always proved to be advantageous to the fundamentalists who use this term (cunningly disguised in secularist prose) to belittle, ridicule, undermine and disparage the position of free thinking secularists, humanists and atheists. It is a form of diplomatic ambiguity in the worst sense of the term.
I am not alone in this analysis. Take for example the position held by a student of Roland Barthes, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across an article where he argues that the use of this term may have been a deliberate move by the Iranian fundamentalists during the 1970s. It is quite obvious that the local “Islamic Progressivists” do not fully understand the context in which this term was coined and that using such a term to disparage the efforts of the secularists hurts the progressive Islamic cause.
To put it quite bluntly the fundamentalists are using the moderates. The widespread use of this term in recent times is a testament to how well the fundamentalists are able to manipulate the masses to garner sympathy for their cause. Criticism does not equate to hate, rather it is the antithesis as criticism requires thoughtful consideration and examination of facts and does not depend on emotion insofar as hatred does.
A few links:
 A site dedicated to creating “awareness” about this term – http://www.islamophobia.org/news.php
 French Philospher Pascal Bruckners arguments – The author of Le Sanglot de l’Homme blanc (The Tears of the White Man) Pascal is a world renowned Sorbonne educated libertarian scholar. His articles have been the subject of much controversy.