According to some online sources, the phrase “Islamophobia” is defined as an irrational fear, dislike or prejudice towards Islam or Muslims. These same online sources tell us that the term came into vogue in 1990’s. Whatever the source, history is replete with examples of people who would today be considered “Islamophobes.” St. Thomas Aquinas had some observations on Islam in 1274 that would seem radical by today’s standards.
In 1324, Marco Polo wrote:
According to their doctrine, whatever is stolen or plundered from others of a different faith, is properly taken, and the theft is no crime; whilst those who suffer death or injury by the hands of Christians, are considered as martyrs. If, therefore, they were not prohibited and restrained by the Mongol powers who now govern them, they would commit many outrages. These principles are common to all Saracens.
Not exactly praiseworthy words for Islam. In 1859, the famous French political philosopher and historian Alexis de Toqueville was even more blunt and wrote words that would get him banned from any modern college campus:
I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.
Yikes!! Even Winston Churchill had some choice words to say in his time.
It may be easy to dismiss these words as the workings of typical Western xenophobia against Islam, or of cultural ignorance. But that would be too easy an explanation since many of these same people praised other non-Islamic foreign cultures. Marco Polo hailed the Brahmins of India and Churchill’s words were measured and tempered. But it was perhaps he who summed it up best: ““Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities—but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”
Enter jerks like Reza Aslan who actually stated that Islamophobia was “created” by a few clowns in 2014. Apologists like him perpetually claim that Islam is just misunderstood and is the result of Western ignorance. It is always easier to look outward for faults in an effort to absolve oneself of any wrongdoing. It is done on the individual level and when done on the collective level Islam is perhaps the worst offender.
Perhaps the solution to the “problem” is for Muslims to cease giving Westerners any reason to fear, dislike, or display prejudice towards them. They can start by assimilating into the Western societies into which they immigrate. No one is telling them they cannot practice their religion provided they do not hurt anyone or deter others from practicing their religion. Instead, in many European countries there exists a parallel Muslim society of insulated neighborhoods they have claimed as their own. Those countries can downplay “no-go zones” all they want, but they certainly exist.
Part and parcel with assimilation is the concept of sharia law. Provided you don’t kill or injure anyone (including their own), practice sharia all you want in your home. They can even cover their women in black cloth so that only their eyes are visible. But in the West, there are these things called constitutions. Implicit in those constitutions are things like freedom of religion which means that anyone is free to practice any religion of their choosing, or even not at all. Thus, the idea of apostasy is foreign to constitutional government.
Likewise, so is female genital mutilation, and honor killings are a big no-no in Western culture. In fact, most killing is a no-no in Western culture. It is also generally unacceptable behavior for groups of men to congregate, then surround women and grope them. Apparently, in an effort to appear not Islamophobic, it is now acceptable for Western officials to cover up such groping sessions.
Although not a major problem in the United States, the unemployment rate among Muslims in European countries and others is generally double that for the population at large and in some countries it is as high as 50% of the Muslim population. This is often used by the Islamophiles who argue that if only they had a job they would be more open to assimilation and less prone to spend their spare time learning how to make bombs. This is sort of a weird argument because one of the biggest selling points among the European open borders crowd is the free flow of labor to where it is most needed. Thus, if it flows there then there should be jobs. Simply, they are not job seekers.
Part of the high unemployment figures is gender-based. Islam frowns on the Western notion of the working woman- unless it is in the home caring to the male and the children. This writer believes that some of the reason for the European high unemployment rate is the proximity of Europe to Muslim countries. It takes some effort and planning to reach the United States and is more complicated than walking across the border in Turkey and making your way north; there are vast oceans between us and Muslim countries. As Europe is finding out, unemployed Muslims are creating a huge drain on their resources and social services which only diminishes the European perception of ALL Muslims.
Of course the best things Muslims can do to clean up their image and decrease the incidence of Islamophobia is twofold: (1) be a little more accepting of the fact that there is this religion called Judaism and there is a country called Israel, and (2) be less supportive of terrorism, or jihad. As to the first point, I do not care from whence the Muslim immigrant came from to the United States; there is this inherent dislike or, at best, reluctant acceptance of Jews. I venture the most secular Muslim in the United States sides with the Palestinians over Israel. When discussing this with my few Muslim friends or associates (they number about 10), there is usually a silence or avoidance of a discussion. A few will actually defend the Palestinian infitada or sometimes call Israel an “apartheid state” when pressed on the issue.
Secondly, a poll by Pew a few years back showed that about 0.5% of the world’s Muslims stated support for terrorism. That may not seem like much, but 0.5% of over a billion people is a large number nevertheless…and scary. Even more scary was that close to 40% recognized and supported the notion of jihad or had some sympathy towards the demands of terrorists. This is manifested every time there is a despicable act of terrorism. We get the obligatory condemnation followed by the equally obligatory and inevitable “but” afterwards. Blow up a mosque and Muslims are apoplectic; blow up a church- crickets chirping.
No matter how you cut it, blowing up Coptic Christian churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, flying airplanes into skyscrapers, kidnapping and selling young girls into sex slavery, and filming someone having their head chopped off is not good optics. It is a really bad public relations campaign by Muslims.
The fact is that almost since its founding, Islam has spread by the sword, not the words or deeds of Mohammed. For almost 1,400 years- largely due to the actions of the Muslim world- a fear and dislike of Islam has actually been in the mainstream. It started when the followers of Mohammed starting raiding, conquering, plundering and enslaving infidels in the name of Allah. This inherent distrust is today labeled “Islamophobia.” It is apologists like Reza Aslam and others who declare Islam to be “misunderstood.” It is people like he who take advantage of Western society’s ignorance of their own history in this area. It is not an “irrational” fear, but a very justifiable fear rooted in history and objective fact.
In short, if one wants to cease Islamophobia, such that it exists, perhaps it is time that Muslims step into the 21st century other than bomb-making expertise and accept a fact of Western history: they were defeated at the gates of Vienna. That battle has been over since 1529 and the Crusades ended a long time before that.