Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a major form of racism in the modern world. It is important to stress that Islamophobia, like anti-GRT racism, is not necessarily triggered by skin color—it is often sparked off by one or more (perceived) symbols of the Muslim faith. It has, of course, intensified since the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, and the suicide bombings of 7 July 2005 (7/7) in Britain (when a co-ordinated attack was made on London’s public transport system during the morning rush hour). The invasion of Iraq has, of course, further intensified Islamophobia (see chapter 7 of this volume; see also Cole and Maisuria 2007, 2010). People who appear to be of the Islamic faith are immediately identified as potential terrorists and in Britain are five times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person (Dodd 2005). In many ways, the racializa- tion of the Muslim communities of Britain, which involves pathologising and scapegoating is similar to the way in which ‘black youth’ were racial- ized in the 1970s and 1980s (e.g. Hall et al. 1978; see also Cole 1986, pp. 128-133). The role of the media is important here too. Peter Oborne recently presented a UK TV programme (based on Oborne and Jones 2008; see Mason 2008). The programme commissioned a survey of nearly 1000 articles written since 2000, noting the content and context of articles pertaining to Muslims and Islam. This showed that 69% of the articles presented Muslims as a source of problems not just in terms of terrorism but also with respect to cultural issues. It found that 26% of the articles portrayed Islam as dangerous, backward or irrational (Mason 2008). As Mason (2008) concludes the shortcoming of the pamphlet (Oborne and Jones 2008) ‘is that it fails to link it to other aspects of government policy: namely the whipping up of fear of terrorist attacks and using the “war against terror” to justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as numerous attacks on democratic rights’.

 
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