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Loaded Language

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Oct 30, 2005 at 00:03

I agree that the term "Islamophobia" is problematic. It suggests that the population at large is in imminent danger of falling under the influence of some sort of psychological dysfunction, that might best be described as "a paranoid fear of Muslims".

The guys at a copy shop I frequented in Toronto were Muslims, but to me they were just Masoud and Rashid. We would kid around, tell jokes and drink coffee. The notion of thinking of these guys as (scary music) ... MUSLIMS ... rather than simply the copy shop crew I got to know, is absurd. But to take that onto yet another level and bring the specter of Islamaphobia into it is downright disturbing. The term itself polarizes and creates alienation.

When you have heard "Islamophobia" being whispered in rest rooms and discussed on MSM, you begin to wonder if there isn't perhaps some reason to be afraid. Heck, maybe the friendly guy you work with who happens to attend a mosque is part of some diabolical conspiracy. The term itself engenders paranoia.

I have said this before on here, and I will say it again. The people who should be challenging rhetoric of this sort that emanates primarily from extremists within the Muslim community, are moderate Muslims. I would like to see more media outreach and organizational influence - from Muslims - directed primarily at counteracting this type of inflammatory rhetoric.

Dr Pipes is correct is drawing the distinction between Islamophobia and Islamismo-phobia. The latter refers to extremists who have brought fear to all civilized peoples, including civilized Muslims.

The use of this term by groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir is a way of adding to the guilt of the host culture and exacting concessions. Two other terms that have become heavily loaded are "homophobia" and "racism". People are so anxious not to be tainted by these terms, they will often go out of their way to avoid any appearance of being prejudiced. Likewise, most decent people don't want to be labeled "Islamophobic" and may be willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of hard line believers. We saw an example of this tendency recently in England when Dudley Council decided to ban pig figurines, cartoons etc from the workplace, in deference to the sensitivities of a Muslim employee who lodged a complaint.

The constituency who can really make a difference are mainstream Muslims in the West, and there have been some positive developments. Many are taking a more pro-active stance when it comes to confronting extremism within their own communities.
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