The Nature of Islamophobia: Some Key Features
There is an everyday pattern of racist and religious violence against Muslims in many parts of Europe and North America that did not originate with the emergence of extremist groups or crisis events in the Middle East. Rather, much of it is tied to longstanding racism and intolerance in communities where European Muslims live. Islam, and so Muslims, is widely construed as the intrinsic negative ‘Other’ engendering responses of general concern, diffuse anxiety, and in increasing instances palpable fear. Patterns of intolerance and exclusion have been exacerbated in recent years by the reality of violent extremism in the name of Islam, and an increased fear about future acts of serious violence directed at civilian populations in Europe. As part of this political discourse, Muslims as a group are blamed for the marginalisation they feel, even while the discriminatory policies and practices that exclude them from the mainstream are reinforced. Critics of the failure of some parts of Europe’s Muslim population to fully integrate are often also advocates of measures that would further isolate and stigmatise these minorities; they become agents of their own self-fulfilling prophecy. This chapter outlines key features of the nature of Islamophobia in the context of international perspectives arising from the trauma of September 11, 2001.
KeywordsIslamophobia Post–9/11 European Muslims Anti-Muslim attitudes Prejudice Stereotyping
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