Thursday, September 15, 2005

Defining Islamophobia

In Robert Spencer’s recently published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), an entire chapter is dedicated to the analysis of Islamophobia as ideological warfare. According to Spencer, the term “Islamophobia” is a relatively new word invented by “moderate” Muslims in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and is frequently used as a propaganda tool and as a tool of intimidation in order to silence criticism of radical Islam and, indeed, of Islam itself.

What is the proper definition of “Islamophobia”? According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “phobia” means “an irrational persistent fear or dread.” Therefore, “Islamophobia” should mean “the irrational persistent fear or dread of Islam.” What has happened, however, is that the charge of Islamophobia is used to silence the exposure and criticism of one of the most dangerous aspects of Islam—jihadism.

Spencer cites the following example from January, 2004 (199-200):
“The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is routinely used to shift attention away from jihad terrorists. After a rise in jihadist militancy and the arrest of eight people in Switzerland on suspicion of aiding suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia, some Muslims in Switzerland were in no mood to clean house: ‘As far as we’re concerned,’ said Nadia Karmous, leader of a Muslim women’s group in Switzerland, ‘there is no rise in Islamism, but rather an increase in Islamophobia.’

“This pattern has recurred in recent years all over the world as ‘Islamophobia’ has passed into the larger lexicon and become a self-perpetuating industry….The absurdity of all this was well illustrated by a recent incident in Britain: While a crew was filming the harassment of a Muslim for a movie about ‘Islamophobia,’ two passing Brits, who didn’t realize the cameras were rolling, stopped to defend the person being assaulted. Yet neither the filmmakers nor the reporters covering these events seemed to realize that this was evidence that the British were not as violent and xenophobic as the film they were creating suggested.’”
The fact is that the Koran and the ahadith, the latter considered to have the same or nearly the same weight as the Koran, promote violent jihad as the best deed one can do, aside from becoming a Muslim, because jihad is active and militant service in Allah’s cause. As proof of the elevated status of waging warfare in the name of Allah, Spencer cites these words from Mohammed the Prophet (34):
“’A journey undertaken for jihad in the evening or morning merits a reward better than the world and all that is in it.”
And the promise of eternal reward has proven to be a powerful motivator, even for numerous jihadists who previously experienced the freedoms of Western society.

Instead of crying “Islamophobia!” or “Hate crime!” when thought-provoking or realistic observations of Islam are made, Muslim organizations which present themselves as Islamic moderates would do better if they were to explain how those troublesome passages from the Koran and the ahadith can be made compatible with Western society. Attempts to silence or thwart by lawsuit both Muslim and non-Muslim discussion of Islam appears to be stonewalling. Stonewalling difficult issues doesn’t satisfy, but rather conveys the impression of secretiveness and complicity.

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