Since the Paris terrorist attacks many people have been arguing about the foreign policy of the West as well as the place of Muslims in Western societies. It is an important debate to have and I have laid out my thoughts on how to deal with the threat of terrorism, however this article is my argument about the phenomenon of Islamophobia. Islamophobia does not exist and by labelling something as Islamophobic the debate against insidious ideas is shut down. Does bigotry against Muslims exist? Absolutely, but this is not the same thing.
When groups like Britain First in the UK or the Front National in France decry the ‘Islamification of Europe’ they are displaying a hostility towards Muslims and this attitude should be challenged. This, however is not Islamophobia. If taken literally the word itself means a hostility towards Islamic doctrine, but I contend that I have a hostility towards Islamic doctrine and my criticism is different to that of fascists. For example, I am an atheist that opposes organised religion. When people such as myself criticise Sharia law for oppressing women and homosexuals, and for promoting capital punishment for stupid crimes like apostasy, my views are labelled as Islamophobic. This is sloppy thinking because opposing the ideology of the Muslim faith, as I do along with all religious doctrines, is not the same as wanting to kick Muslims out of the country.
When I say Islamophobia doesn’t exist I am calling for intellectual consistency. If a Muslim was to say that they think that the laws laid out in the Torah are inane or stupid you wouldn’t say that that Muslim was an anti-Semite. There is a reason for this, because they wouldn’t be. The same is true in relation to Islam. People on the Left and the Right seem to refuse to criticise the ideological tenants of Islam in fear of being labelled as being bigoted or racist. On a side note saying that people who are bigoted against Muslims are racist is also a stupid thing to say. I’m white and if I converted to becoming a Muslim my race wouldn’t change as soon as I started reading the Qur’an.
As I alluded to earlier hostility towards Muslims exists and this is why the word ‘Islamophobia’ should be ditched as it implies that the main focus of these people’s objection is ideological. These groups, despite what they claim, are pushing a racist agenda designed to intimidate Muslims by asserting that all Muslims are or support terrorists. By the same logic all Christians are in or supportive of the KKK. Of course these two statements are untrue but forgive me for repeating it, especially given the amount of time the media spends asking for Muslim leaders to denounce terrorism that they had nothing to do with.
I do not know what the solution to this would be as the phrase ‘Muslimphobic’, although more etymologically accurate, sounds clunky and incorrect, however Islamophobic must be removed from our vocabularies. This word mixes people like myself, who oppose all religious doctrines because of my support of Enlightenment values like logic and reason, and far-right groups and neo-Nazis who see the rise of Islam as being a threat to perceptions of traditional Europe. Given that I could be described as on the far-left, I do not appreciate being associated with people who long for the ‘good-old-days’ when white Christians went around the world imposing their religious beliefs on others by means of such fun methods as crusades, colonialism, brainwashing and inquisitions.
Let me reiterate bigotry against Muslims exists, and the recent attacks in Paris may well make the problem worse, however describing an intellectual opposition to a religious opinion as intolerance is moronic. Just as a Christian rejects the teachings of Sikhism but doesn’t reject those who believe in that religion, so too can this atheist reject Islam without being branded by ignorant liberals as wanting to exorcise them from my community.
As a society we need to come together to fight intolerance against our Muslim comrades but ‘Islamophobia’ makes this unity challenging as it pits people who agree that prejudice and discrimination against each other. We need to get rid of the word, and work in solidarity with the Islamic community to fight religious extremists and far-right groups promoting hatred against a religious minority.
Editor’s Note: The title of this article has been changed.