top of page
  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

Why Does the World Hate Muslims?

Written by Carolina Beirne for Section Middle East.


This article illuminates upon the treatment of muslims and their religion by the Western world. With fearmongering being one of the culprits, this article examines exactly how Islam is stigmatised in the way that it is.

“You Muslims must die,” shouted the man who murdered six-year-old Wadea Al Fayoume, stabbing him twenty-six times with a military-style knife on October 24th, 2023.[1]

 

Wadea, born in America, was the son of two Palestinian refugees, who fled their homes in the West Bank due to Israeli occupation. They settled in Plainfield, Illinois, America, where, although free from colonisation, they were not safe from the anti-Arab rhetoric that plagues much of the Western world.

 

In France, discrimination against Muslims and Arabs have risen sharply in recent years. This has included bans on hijabs and headscarves as well as governments imposing rules on how one can practice and express their faith.[2] In Australia, Islamophobic rallies have been held nationwide since 2015, warning of the risks of ‘Islam barbarity,’ attracting Neo-Nazis and instilling an Anti-Islam rhetoric into many Australians. 

 

The idea that all terrorists are Muslim is a pervasive and dangerous opinion seen throughout the world. One may claim this is a 9/11 hangover, but the perceptions of Arab Muslims as terrorists dominated the public imagination long before 11 September 2001. There is a long history of orientalism in much of the Western world, where Muslims are seen as exotic, dangerous and adversaries of liberal democracy.

 

Critical race theorists and anthropologists point to the “backlash effect,” where hate crimes and other Islamophobic activities spike in response to global crises involving Muslims and Arabs. For example, Wadea Al Fayoume’s murderer blamed him and his family for the current events happening in Palestine and Israel. In fact, as the Israel-Hamas war wages on, a wave of Islamophobia has swept across the world in response.

 

In the United States, the Council on American Relations received 774 complaints in two weeks following the beginning of Israel’s siege on Gaza. “The current conflict in Gaza is pouring gasoline on a fire that was already raging," says Michael Jensen.[3]

 

But even still, why do so many people equate Islam with terrorism?

 

One would be naïve to not blame the media for much of this. When a Muslim individual perpetrates a terrorist attack, a study completed by Erin Kearns found that a Muslim perpetrator and their attack receives on average 449 per cent more coverage than an attack perpetrated by a person of any other religion, race, or ideology.[4] Looking beyond terror attacks, seventy-five per cent of broadcasts focused on any aspect of the Muslim faith centred around Islamic extremist groups. In other forms of media, such as the film industry, “Arabs and Muslims are almost exclusively portrayed as terrorists or other negative characters,” and media “portray[s] Arabs in a manner that would have caused outrage if applied to any other religious minorities.”[5]

 

Alongside the media, politicians use their influence to adapt public perception. For example, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump have used their loyal voter base to disseminate anti-Muslim rhetoric for years.

 

During Macron’s first term, Muslims were suspected of ‘separatism,’ and were scrutinized from every angle. The government extended surveillance mechanisms, strengthened anti-terror unis, and established ‘Valeurs de la République,’ a team to uphold laïcité, a policy whereby the French state defines the visibility of religion in society. As such, these teams inspected and shut down thousands of Muslim spaces, ranging from “mosques to snack bars,” under a new political form of racialisation to measure loyalty to the state, which “blurred dividing lines between the government and the far right.”[6] Macron’s presidency is indicative of the role of Islamophobia as a backbone to the authoritarianism of the French state, to intensify institutionalism, repression, and exclusion.

 

Moreover, former US President Donald Trump signed the first iteration of his ‘Muslim Ban’ policy just days after his inauguration to the Presidential office, “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”[7] to prevent national of predominantly Muslim countries from entering into the United States. Throughout his campaign, Trump often made references to his hatred towards practitioners of Islam, stating in one instance that “Islam hates us,” that Muslims harbour “unbelievable hatred,” and that it is “very hard” to separate “radical Islam” from the religion as a whole.[8] Trump’s influence as a politician and the ferocity of his supporters is rather unprecedented, and his devotees will go to great lengths to defend him, as so clearly demonstrated in the January 6th storming of the US Capitol. If his followers believe everything he says, it is no surprise that they are quick to absorb his anti-Muslim hatred, too.


Conclusion 

Rooted in historical biases, amplified by media sensationalism, and fuelled by political rhetoric, anti-Muslim sentiments have reached alarming proportions. In confronting the disturbing reality of rising Islamophobia, it is imperative to recognize the multi-faceted sources of this pervasive hatred. Addressing Islamophobia requires a comprehensive approach, encompassing media reform, political responsibility, and societal introspection.








References

 

Choudhury, Cyra ‘Terrorists & Muslims: The Construction, Performance and Regulation of Muslim Identities in the Post-9/11 United States' (2006) 7(3) Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion 67.

 

Farivar, Masood ''Backlash Effect': Why the Middle East Conflict Triggers Hate Crimes in the US' (VOA News, 2 November 2023) <https://www.voanews.com/a/backlash-effect-why-the-middle-east-conflict-triggers-hate-crimes-in-the-us-/7339873.html> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

Guenif, Nacira 'Why is Islamophobia on the rise in France?' (Al Jazeera, 27 October 2022) <https://www.aljazeera.com/podcasts/2022/10/27/why-is-islamophobia-on-the-rise-in-france> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

Johnson, Jenna 'Trump calls for ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’' (The Washington Post, 7 December 2015) <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-total-and-complete-shutdown-of-muslims-entering-the-united-states/> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

Kearne, EM 'Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?' (2020)  Justice Quarterly 53.

 

Schleifer, Theodore, ‘Donald Trump: I Think Islam Hates Us’ (CNN, 10 March 2016) <https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/09/politics/donald-trump-islam-hates-us/index.html> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

Wolfreys, Jim 'Avec Vous?’: Islamophobie et la présidence Macron' (2023) 31(2) Modern & Contemporary France 165-182.

 

Yan, Holly 'A 6-year-old Palestinian-American was stabbed 26 times for being Muslim, police say His mom couldn’t go to his funeral because she was stabbed, too' (CNN, 16 October 2023) <https://edition.cnn.com/2023/10/16/us/chicago-muslim-boy-stabbing-investigation/index.html> accessed 28 November 2023.


[1] Holly Yan, 'A 6-year-old Palestinian-American was stabbed 26 times for being Muslim, police say His mom couldn’t go to his funeral because she was stabbed, too' (CNN, 16 October 2023) <https://edition.cnn.com/2023/10/16/us/chicago-muslim-boy-stabbing-investigation/index.html> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

[2] Nacira Guenif, 'Why is Islamophobia on the rise in France?' (Al Jazeera, 27 October 2022) <https://www.aljazeera.com/podcasts/2022/10/27/why-is-islamophobia-on-the-rise-in-france> accessed 28 November 2023.


[3] Masood Farivar, ''Backlash Effect': Why the Middle East Conflict Triggers Hate Crimes in the US' (VOA News, 2 November 2023) <https://www.voanews.com/a/backlash-effect-why-the-middle-east-conflict-triggers-hate-crimes-in-the-us-/7339873.html> accessed 28 November 2023.

 

[4] EM Kearns, 'Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?' (2020)  Justice Quarterly 53.

 

[5] Cyra Choudhury, 'Terrorists & Muslims: The Construction, Performance and Regulation of Muslim Identities in the Post-9/11 United States' [2006] 7(3) Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion 67.

 

[6] Jim Wolfreys, 'Avec Vous?’: Islamophobie et la présidence Macron' [2023] 31(2) Modern & Contemporary France 165-182.

 

[7] Jenna Johnson, 'Trump calls for ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’' (The Washington Post, 7 December 2015) <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/12/07/donald-trump-calls-for-total-and-complete-shutdown-of-muslims-entering-the-united-states/> accessed 28 November 2023.

 






92 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page