Racism is not limited to white and black. And America is certainly not the only country to struggle with systemic bigotry. The “US versus THEY” mentality has existed globally throughout recorded history among all people groups. It has fueled most conflicts – both domestic and international.
I grew up during the Cold War. Communist (aka evil) Russians versus Democratic (aka good) Americans. The inherent tension between the good protagonists and evil antagonists served as the foundational story plot for many books, movies and television of the era. Now, media has popularized the new enemy — Muslim extremists. Hence, the protracted, ubiquitous war on terrorism.
One of the unfortunate byproducts of this diametric has been Islamophobia. Wiki defines Islamophobia as the fear, hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims generally, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism. Gallup offers a definition with a different nuance: An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.
In one Gallup survey question, respondents were asked do you believe Western Societies RESPECT or DO NOT RESPECT Muslim societies? Over half (52%) said the U.S. does not respect Muslim Societies. 57% of those surveyed living within a Muslim society believed that they are not being treated equally. Anti-Muslim sentiment is not confined to western cultures.
VOX: With “reeducation” camps in China, religious disenfranchisement in India, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, street violence in Sri Lanka, mass shootings in New Zealand, the flourishing of far-right parties across Europe, and the mainstreaming of Islamophobia in America, there’s been a global surge in anti-Muslim bigotry — often supported by the full power and might of the state.
Negative sentiment toward Muslims is endemic in many countries in Europe. Research conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that an unfavorable view of Muslims was held by:
- 72% of those in Hungary
- 69% of Italians
- 66% of Polish Citizens
- 65% of those living in Greece
- 50% of those in Spain
MLFA: Muslims have faced discrimination and experienced double standards on a routine basis. They are more likely to be subjected to heightened scrutiny, banned from airplanes, denied government benefits, have their bank accounts closed, or even be prosecuted for crimes they did not commit.
There are several notable non-profit organizations that are fighting against Islamophobia. Among them is the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR). CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. CAIR’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. They offer a number Anti-Prejudice Tools and Resources on their website.