Phobia, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. It exists due to reasons of conditioning, societal norms or experience or just mere unawareness. Islamophobia is one such phenomenon existing in the world today. It is known to be fear or hostility toward Muslims practicing Islam that is mostly exaggerated and perpetuated further by negative stereotypes in the media, societal opinion etc. This results in bias leading to discrimination and segregation of the Muslim population from common society. Islamophobia had always been around but it was only recently that it has been highlighted and debated over, more with the current refugee crisis, persisting as Xenophobia in many places. The crisis saw various nations of the European Union remain silent and discreet on granting Muslim Asylum seekers a clear-cut refugee status in their countries. The November 2015 Paris attacks, led to an even widespread fear and prejudice against the Muslim community as organizations promoting the Muslim state came out and took responsibility for the attacks. Many French politicians and leaders adopted a closed door, anti-immigrant stance to condemn the attacks and protect country’s national integrity, peace and harmony. Islamophobia is yet to be given a definite form; it exists in our everyday lives. Taking India for example, ours is a secular nation which finds unity in diversity and yet we have segregations in our cities and villages based on religion. Media plays a huge role in encouraging this bias further, movies and popular TV series surrounding the theme of terrorism always show Muslim characters or names. Moreover, the growing Islamic State and its troops have negatively influenced a lot of people into believing all the wrong notions of Islam. This was the same religion that spoke about Sufism and seeing the beauty in the world through music and dance, the religion that treated all its disciples as equals and encouraged brotherhood amongst people. Islam today has taken new perspectives in people’s minds, it is associated with barbaric practices and restrictive laws. Violence and Islam seem like synonyms as aggression takes the form of Jihad, for many. What we know of Islam today is not even a ten percent of what Prophet Mohammed had preached; it has been misinterpreted over the years. This is the world with a major statistics of a growing population in a globalized society, all connected to one another. At such times, it is important to understand how ostracizing or heavy bias against a particular group can lead to a vast number of these youth being targeted. Xenophobia is another dangerous phenomenon to consider especially with the ongoing migrant crisis, with millions seeking asylums in European and western countries having nowhere else to escape. Refugees from Islamic countries face the already harsh conditions of existing as refugees and have to moreover try and assimilate with citizens having a bias against them. This widespread notion, however, has not gone unnoticed with various countries coming forward and taking a stance against Islamophobia and to help their citizens against this mentality. The European Commission organizes seminars addressing the public against Racism and Intolerance, or encourages Youth Campaigns against Racism, Xenophobia, and Anti-Semitism. The European Human Rights Court has given various statements on this subject highlighting all our fundamental rights to freedom of thought and expression and having our own religious beliefs, further emphasizing the prohibition of discrimination towards particular religions and religious communities. The Court has frequently stressed upon the State’s role as the neutral and impartial supervisor of people to exercise their rights to various religions, faiths and beliefs and that this role is beneficial in promoting public order and religious harmony in a democratic society. Human rights are universal and everybody in this society has the right to choose what they believe and how they practice what they believe. The noblest thing a human being can do is be kind to one another, sure rights can be violated but they cannot be lost. It is important to create dialogues amongst different societies in glorifying their differences and looking for harmonious solutions to existing together without prejudice. Written By: Shambhavi Padhye, A student of SLS Pune as part of the Internship Program References:
  2. Ingrid Ramberg, Islamophobia and its consequences on Young People, European Youth Centre Budapest
  3. Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West
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