Despite constituting a significant minority in western countries, Muslims around the world are subject to disproportionate, unjustifiable bias. Such attitudes distance them from their most fundamental social rights by portraying them as extremists and fanatics. The group is represented as able to endanger the interests of Europe and America.
As reported by the German Central Institute Islam Archive, there are 53 million Muslims living in Europe (excluding Turkey) who represent some 7.2% of the continent’s population. According to a Pew Research Center 2011 demographic study, globally Islam has 1.6 billion adherents, making up 23% of the world’s population.
Muslims coexist with other groups in peace and tranquility. Nobody can claim that Muslims have been dangerous or harmful to the security of the western countries, because there’s no evidence to confirm this claim.
The mass media of European countries regularly and recklessly insult Islamic religious symbols, especially the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The most prominent example of these insults was the publication of 12 blasphemous editorial cartoons by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, 2005 which prompted international anger. Many understood that such actions result in continued antagonism and bitterness, serving only to add fuel to the fire of anti-Islamic sentiments.
The term Islamophobia, which is described as an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims and prejudice against and hatred of them, came into common use following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. In actuality, the term was spread by the US government which launched two military expeditions in the Middle East for the alleged purpose of combating what they termed “Islamic fundamentalism” and terrorism.
As a result of media propaganda, Muslims in some countries are demonized and ostracized, unable to attend or perform prayers in public, assume government positions, pursue their social rights on equal terms with other citizens or adhere to their preferred dress codes.
It was recently revealed that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been engaged in widespread religious and ethnic profiling and the monitoring of Muslim communities and houses of worship in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A coalition of social activists in the US is calling on the Senate, the Department of Justice and the US Marshals Service to take action in response to the illegal police monitoring of the Muslims in greater New York.
The revelations are contained in documents obtained by the Associated Press (AP) showing that undercover NYPD officers in a “Demographics Unit” targeted the Muslim communities with the assistance of individuals linked to the CIA. NYPD officials are denying the Demographics Unit ever existed, despite the publication of an NYPD presentation that described the mission and makeup of the unit.
Independent sources, including Islamophobia Watch have reported that the monitoring of mosques and the daily affairs of Muslims in the United States has intensified since the 9/11 attacks; the CIA has been carrying out underground intelligence operations to scrutinize the daily life of Muslims within the country.
According to Islamophobia Watch, the CIA has dispatched undercover officers to public places such as bookstores, shops and cafes to keep an eye on the daily affairs of Muslims. It has also used informants known as “mosque crawlers” to monitor sermons delivered by Muslim Imams and take action when necessary.
While in western detention, Muslims are treated inequitably and unfairly. Several reports have been published which detail how Muslim prisoners of the United States and Europe have been subject to torture, mistreatment and abuse. Babar Ahmad, a citizen of south west London, is one of several Muslim detainees who are being held in European and American jails without being charged in a court hearing.
Ahmad was arrested on August 5, 2004 on charges of providing materials to a website which supports Chechen and Taliban insurgents. Since then, he has spent seven years in prison without trial.
Since his detainment, Ahmad has been subjected to torture and humiliation by the UK police. Scotland Yard officers have beaten him, stomped on his bare feet with boots, sexually abused him, mocked his Islamic faith by placing him into a Muslim prayer position and taunting, “Where is your God now?!” and applied life-threatening neck holds to him.
Muslims in the West are deterred from wearing clothing expressive of their faith, another representation of Islamophobic and xenophobic sentiments. A law in Belgium can fine and imprison for up to seven days a woman wearing burqa or niqab, a fabric covering for the lower face. In France, since April anyone wearing niqab or burqa in public is subject to fines of 150 euros and “citizenship training.” Moreover, an Italian parliamentary committee has drafted a law which bans women from wearing items that cover their faces in public.
Overall, what is clear is that Muslims in the West are treated as second-rate citizens; their social rights and freedom seem to be confiscated. Western mainstream media regularly associates terrorism with Islam and attributes terrorist activities to Muslims. The European governments overtly express their disdain for Islam and the Muslims, allowing the enactment of laws which limit and restrain social liberties of Muslims.
Islamophobia is a modern crusade against Muslims by societies which boast of being liberal and democratic, but in practice are xenophobic and intolerant. How can a truer image of Islam and Muslims be demonstrated to the West?