Who is actually intolerant of whom? Is it the Muslims — who are demonized as being incompatible with the modern thought and culture — or it is actually other way round? Going by the situation on ground in the aftermath of 9/11 incident in US followed by countless other incidents of terrorism worldwide, the very definitions about incompatibility vis-à-vis the cultures and beliefs merits a rethink, particularly in the face of growing ‘Islamophobia’ which is plaguing almost entire developed world.
Even as it goes without saying that the acts of terrorism are not exclusive to the members of any particular community only but that the people of varied faith backgrounds have been equally culpable of showing sadistic and psychopathic behaviours throughout history, but still for some reasons, which of course point to some ‘design’, it is only the Muslims who named and blamed for every act of terrorism and then also hounded for it.
In the post-September 11, 2001 environment, the category of “terrorist” has emerged as a racialized construct in which men perceived to be Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian are classified as “terrorist others”, the “Americans on Hold: Profiling, Citizenship, and the ‘War on Terror'” report pointed out over a decade back. Other countries too have been pro-active in “othering” the Muslims as “terrorists”, thereby steadily encouraging their people to go for an all-out campaign against the members of this community. Even though discriminatory stereotyping is illegal under international law, besides being a very poor substitute for real intelligence work, the security agencies world-over have made it their habit to conceal their own shortcomings in fighting subversion and terror by slamming blame on an entire community so that they could use strong-fist tactics against it. No wonder then the members of this community are at the receiving end of systematic and sometimes even wanton violence as has been proved by the Friday’s mosque shootings in New Zealand.
In March 2010, the UN Human Rights Council narrowly passed a resolution condemning growing Islamaphobic behaviour in the world. The resolution made a particular reference about countless instances and manifestations of Islamophobia “that stand in sharp contradiction to international human rights obligations concerning freedoms of religions”. It also warned that such acts would “fuel discrimination, extremism and misperception leading to polarization and fragmentation with dangerous, unintended and unforeseen consequences”. The resolution also expressed “deep concern … that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism”, and regretted that the laws or administrative measures specifically designed to control and monitor Muslim minorities, were stigmatizing them and legitimizing the discrimination they experience. But as the reality is – it stopped just at that – not even the resolution could be passed and adopted.
How long will it take for the world to come to terms with what Muslims have been experiencing for too long now — Islamophobia or the fear of Islam and Muslims? This fear breeds prejudice and hate against Muslims at the hands of those who suffer a sort of mental condition wherein they are scared of everything related with Islam and the Muslims for a weird set of reasons. Coined in Great Britain a decade ago, the neologism Islamophobia literally means “undue fear of Islam”. It also signifies “prejudice against Muslims” and joins other phobias spanning virtually every aspect of life. Over the years the term has achieved a degree of linguistic and political acceptance, to the point that as early as December 2004, the Secretary-General of the United Nations presided over a conference titled “Confronting Islamophobia”. Subsequently, hundreds of conferences and seminars have been held and resolutions passed by international rights bodies and other forums to condemn the growing incidence of Islamophobia.
However, despite all this there has not been much change in the situation on the ground. Not only the common people but even the governments have been involved in promoting and patronizing this hate. What happened in New Zealand is yet another instance to prove that Islamophobia is not just a lingual construct but a reality as are its victims – the people of flesh and blood.