Growing Islamophobia sets alarm bells ringing

Published: November 29, 2010
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Violence and intimidation of Muslims and their places of worship has been at 
unacceptable levels since 9/11, says report.

Violence and intimidation of Muslims and their places of worship has been at unacceptable levels since 9/11, says report.

LONDON: Violence and intimidation of Muslims and their places of worship has been at unacceptable levels since 9/11, is the message of a report on ‘Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime’ launched at the London Muslim Centre on Saturday. The authors call upon the new government to tackle the problem before it deteriorates further.

The report is a part of a ten-year Europe-wide research project into the experience of Muslims as victims of violence, intimidation and discrimination. The research is being conducted by the European Muslim Research Centre of the University of Exeter and sponsored by the Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies. The focus of this report was on case studies from the UK.

“Evidence in the report of specific threats to Muslims is overwhelming and compelling,” said co-author of the report Dr Robert Lambert. Examples given include an attack by youths on a  70-year-old man in white robes on his way home from a mosque, and a taxi driver found bleeding from multiple stab wounds to his head who subsequently died.

According to the report, most hate crimes are not reported to police. An example is given of a woman in burqa and niqab who is punched and abused by unknown assailants on a bus home from a shopping centre while her terrified infant daughter looks on. No one in the bus gets up to help her. Other women report regular verbal abuse and intimidation, worse for those who decide to wear the niqab in addition to hijab.

Attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions are particularly alarming, points out Dr Lambert.  Out of 1,600 mosques in the UK many are too frightened to complete the questionnaire sent by researchers.

“In some remote places dreadful accounts are emerging of continuing intimidation, attacks and vandalism,” he continues. “At times mosques have become ‘hidden’ and at others instead of taking action against the vandals, the authorities have advised the Muslims to move their mosques elsewhere.”

The authors have so far documented 42 cases in which pig heads, bacon and pork have been used to signal anti-Muslim hatred at mosques and other Islamic institutions. Research in this area is not yet complete and a separate report on violence to mosques will be published.

Aside from actual instances of hate crime speakers at the launch of the report talked about how acceptable it had become to be anti-Muslim. The view has become prevalent amongst media and commentators that a strict adherence to Islam poses a threat to the safety, cohesion and well-being of communities and countries in the UK and in Europe.

“Islamophobia has become deep-seated even in otherwise liberal educated people and Islamophobic language is becoming part and parcel of Western popular culture,” said the keynote speaker John Esposito, Professor of Religion, International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University.  “The challenge for Western societies is to recognise its extent and accept that it affects the civil liberties of a significant proportion of our population.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Anonoctopus
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:00AM

    Armageddon, my brothers, is at hand. The preparations are in full-swing. This article only but touches the surface of the growing hatred that non-Muslims feel for Muslim men, women and even children.Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 10:46AM

    Persecuting Muslims is not the Christian think to do. It hurts the image of Christianity
    Persecuting Christians is not the Islamic think to do. It hurts the image of IslamRecommend

  • Aryan Chatterji
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:36PM

    Although I strongly condemn such anti-muslim acts, I have realised that any muslim can be a terrorist. So, I personally have stopped making new friends with muslims. I know few muslims (who are literate but not educated) whose views on women and other religions are utter conservative and disgusting as if I am talking to somebody dating 2 A.D. They think their religion is the best, unlike Hindus who believe every religion should be equally respected.

    I therefore advise non-muslims to maintain a no-love-no-hatred relationship with muslims and not to mingle with any muslim if you dont know that person for many years or who had been closely related to you previously.Recommend

  • Sheikh
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:47PM

    Dear Researchers,

    Plz tell if you have even taken any tangible steps or has the government started a media campaign to deter the anti-Muslim violence. If not, than I guess you are just doing the research because you are getting good money for it. The aim of research should be implementing the solutions and not just sitting and marketing your materialistic efforts…

    I hope the msg gets the right audience.

    Regards,

    A humble Muslim.Recommend

  • Rana Amjad
    Nov 29, 2010 - 4:29PM

    Dear Aryan, Not a good advice since I am a Muslim who totally disagree what majority of Muslims are doing in the name of Islam. Please do not stop communicating with Muslims since you would also neutalize moderate Muslims also. There are hardly 2% Muslims who have gone crazy otherwise 98% are quite moderate, liberal & tolerant. Please do not treat all Muslims with same stick. Live & let Live! Even in Islam there is COMPLETE respect for all religions unfortunately Muslims have destroyed the image of Islam. I understand that fault lies in us & we must do something soon to improve our image but we need the help of all especially of our neighbors like a big country of India.Recommend

  • Sonia
    Nov 29, 2010 - 5:18PM

    @Aryan

    maybe you wud like to give a bit of insight into the backgrounds of ur Muslim friends who act in non-Islamic manner?Recommend

  • G. Din
    Nov 29, 2010 - 6:03PM

    @Aryan Chatterji

    “…I have realised that any muslim can be a terrorist. …”
    How many Muslim women have committed acts of terrorism. Practically, none. So you have lumped an innocent party with barbaric acts for which ONLY Muslim men are responsible.

    “…So, I personally have stopped making new friends with muslims.”
    If you are in agreement with the above, you (and all rational, sensitive people) should boycott only Muslim men. Let us not pile up more misery on a section of society which is already under a great deal of stress for being unfortunate enough to be born into the Muslim faith!Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 29, 2010 - 6:20PM

    West has Islamophobia, Pakistan has Kafir-o-phobia..Recommend

  • richard
    Nov 29, 2010 - 6:34PM

    here in america anti islam sentiment is growing, its time to deport all muslims unless they integrate and assimilate, problem is muslims dont assimilate well and would rather take over and impose sharia law. even the moderate ones ive talked to believe sharia should replace the constitution.Recommend

  • Kanishka
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:44PM

    The root cause of all this mess that Islam finds itself is the concept of “Muslim Ummah” and “Kafir Ideologies” and the teachings within Islam that gives second class status to a Non-Muslim person/Religion. Islam does talk of being kind to a non-muslim but condemns the person for having a different belief system…as opposed to rejoicing the difference in opinion and having an open heart to learn something good if there may be. Imagine if everyone in an arts class is forced to draw the same picture, this would defeat the purpose of creation, free will and God given creativity . All religions say God is Omnipresent, but they dont realize the deeper meaning of this word. It means that Gods holy spirit permeates each and every atom of this creation, which includes you , me, animals and even stones and mountains that seem inanimate(but are not). Gods consciousness permeates his creation and hence you cannot worship him in isolation to his creation. The only way to realize God is by learning to truly love and worship his creation as God. God does not reveal himself to those who consider the creation seperate from Him, and who have even an iota of hate/violence for his creation (i.e. Kafir, animals etc). Bottom Line, No matter what we worship, whether its stones, mountains, rivers, Prophet/Guru, One God, we cannot worship anything other than God, since God is Omnipresent. Indian religions have a word called Namaste which derives from “Namo Narayan/Namo Astutute” implying that I bow to the Lord within you. Hence acknowledging the fact that every being is God himself. Indian religions worship mountains, rivers and all animals(humans included) which serves to only bring love and harmony with the Creation and its Creator. While the whole world takes onto Kundalini Yoga and Vedic Litertaure the very people of Indus Valley are busy in immitating the Arabian Salafis/Wahabis. Remember religion is always personal (between man and God), no mullah or sadhu or religious organization has the right to come between God and Soul. True and sincere spiritual seekers must read holy books from all religions/saints/prophets and they should take liberally from any book that appeals to them. GOD is OMNIPRESENT and in LOVING this creation from the bottom of your heart is to know GOD. Recommend

  • Mike Sullivan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 12:09AM

    We want them to abolish their beliefs and laws and abide to a Western system of life, even in their own home-countries. And then we call them terrorists and alienate them for their wish to have their faith govern the laws which they live by.

    @Anoop: Your narrow-minded attitude shows clearly through your comment on a post where Pakistan wasn’t even a topic of discussion. How are you any better in your hatred of Pakistanis?

    @Aryan Chatterji: Your comment is not a great advertisement for your self perceived liberalism. You blame the Muslims for their “disgusting” views. How is your ideology of not mixing with them any better? And you forget how Roy and Farooq are being treated by the likes of RSS and Shiv Sena. Extremism in the Hindu religion has been noted, even before the events of September-11.

    Having said all this, the lack of accountability among the Muslim nations is promoting the rise of extremism among them. Such extremism, often born of injustice and grudges is easily exploitable by elements not necessarily representing the best interest of Muslims or indeed Islam.Recommend

  • mir liyaqat
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:42AM

    This a response to a person namely chatterji who goes ballistic during his hypocrite comments. Let me tell you one thing why muslims in india feel alienated and isolated after independence? Why the so called democratic setup in india is treating them second grade citizen? Why the accused in gujarat are surving by manipulating the democratic mandate? How bizarre it is that you are telling us conservtive and terrorist.our rulers showed you the light you were in deep
    darkness when they took the reign of the subcontinent. You are i think very proud of the rights which your religion gives to women that gandhi strived hard throught his life to abolish such illogical laws. You are telling of that religion where castecism has polarised the basic values of humanity. When the suppresed indian muslims or kashmiri muslims are demanding their legitimate rights you call them terrorists? Whic is very sad.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 1:04PM

    Persecution of Muslims in India cannot be denied. Fortunately it is not applied evenly to all Muslims

    Christians, Baha’i and even Muslim Shiites are persecuted in Islamic countries, not always and not equally to everybody and everywhere. This are things that show up in the news. Unlike in ancient times, what happens in a Pakistani village becomes international news in a very short time.

    There are degrees of reaction, For example the decision to forbid construction of new minarets in Switzerland upset many. The leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi. declared a Jihad against Switzerland. Fortunately, Christians have not declared a Crusade against Saudi Arabia for denying permits to build Christian Churches in Mecca and Medina. At the same time, it should be remembered that Islam tolerated most of the time non-Muslims

    Religious freedom and tolerance is a goal of Westernized countries. Saudi Arabia forbids the practice of any other religion than Islam on it’s soil. Furthermore, no building is permitted for any other religious group. Religious freedom is unacceptable there and in some other places. Recommend

  • Talha
    Nov 30, 2010 - 2:48PM

    Having lived in London, the actual events of discrimination and intimidation are either sparse to none.

    The root problem of this is that others have started to treat Muslims as they have seen them treating minorities in their own countries.

    All they hear is blapshemy, christians killed, peaceful Ahmadi murdered and they react harshly against all Muslims. Many of whom would be innocent but just being Muslim labels them as another bigot.Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:18PM

    I am particularly very proactive to Indian Muslims and strongly believe that they are Indian first and will lay down their life with the same zeal a s any Indian will do, when the time comes.

    In my last assignment, where we recruiting large number of young boys and girls, I kept a sharp eye on number of Muslims being recruited to ensure that they are not being discriminated.

    However, if I see a lady in burka or a man accompanying her, I keep away, believing that they may be very conservative and wants me to stay from her. After reading others comments, and reviewing my own behavior, it seems I am also discriminating.

    Any comment or suggestion. I still feel that a burka is a message to others (specially men) to keep away.Recommend

  • Dr Dev Mishra
    Dec 1, 2010 - 2:31AM

    Ashutosh, my feelings exactly. When I travel in India every year, I make sure that I tip the muslim staff more, make sure I g`o out of my way to befriend fellow muslim travellers etc. My way of correcting any discrimination that exists.
    But, being a doctor, I am able to cross boundarioes. Burka does create a slight barrier, however given half a chance, I will start a conversation. Dr Dev Mishra, of India and UKRecommend

  • Sonia
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:30PM

    Well Doc and Ashutosh wht can i say that you are doing a great job in breaking barriers:)

    Ashutosh u r rite in ascertaining that burka is a sort of conservativeness and yes it gives a signal that the woman has no mind to talk or mingle freely.

    I too have Christian friends and Hindu friends- and one Hindu family friend:) and we get along just great. Sharing ideas and deepest thoughts without interfering in religion except for the fact that the family friend aunt ties a rakhi on my uncles wrist each rakhsha-bandhan and my uncle gives her something in return- just like the Hindu tradition goes:)
    She comes on Eid etc……

    What I am trying to say is that respecting small things and traditions doesn’t change religions and we should not develop intolerance to them.

    Someone said that Muslims consider Islam superior to other religions- can you actually follow one religion without thinking it better. But that does NOT mean that PPL OF ALL OTHER RELIGIONS ARE DISPENSABLE. Islam prohibits it strictly. Recommend

  • Agnostic Muslim
    Dec 2, 2010 - 7:16PM

    If you are in Rome be like a Roman (independent of whether you are from Pakistan or UAE or Egypt). And in most of the European countries people behave as though they are staying in Saudi Arabia. As long as Islam enforces death for Apostates, death for Kafirs, and aims to convert the whole world into Islam these kind of hatred will be there.Recommend

  • Sonia
    Dec 2, 2010 - 8:34PM

    @Agnostic Muslim

    but most Muslims facing the hatred have nothing to do with conversion- they live and mingle freely retaining their identity- y are they always the target first??
    and the easiest target actually:)Recommend

  • JohnAnnArbor
    Dec 3, 2010 - 3:37AM

    Turns out that there’s very little data to back up the report the article discusses–and quite a lot of data that refutes it! See here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100066569/islamic-extremism-is-this-the-years-most-embarrassing-academic-report/Recommend

  • Ajay
    Dec 13, 2010 - 2:48AM

    Well said Rana. The only problem is that people like you are not 80% but a minority. What I have seen and heard 1st hand from Muslims was too shocking for me!!Recommend

  • Ajay
    Dec 13, 2010 - 2:51AM

    @ SOnia

    They may seem to live and mingle freely but unfortunately quite a few harbor extreme views which come out only when you come very close to them and they blurt out their feelings during conversations. Not only they harbor very animostic feelings against host cultures, it would not be an out of place extrapolation to conclude that they would also support the untold-scale-of-violence Islamists are prepared to execute in the name of Islam.Recommend

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