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Panel probes rise of Islamophobia in Europe

| Thursday, January 21, 2016

A panel of international studies scholars discussed the rise of Islamophobia in Europe on Wednesday afternoon at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. The panel, which is sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, examined reasons for the recent spike in anti-Muslim activity in several European countries, as well as possible solutions.

Maurizio Albahari, an assistant professor of anthropology, said Islamophobia is nothing new, as the term itself was created in the 1990s.

“When the world is compelled to coin a new term to account for increasingly widespread bigotry, that is sad and troubling,” Albahari said.

However, Albahari said Islamophobia now is worse than it has ever previously been in Europe.

“Opinions that you could not say out loud a few years ago abut Muslims—opinions that would have sounded racist—are allowed,” Albahari said.

Visiting assistant professor Aysegul Zeren said recent terrorist attacks are largely responsible for the recent rise in Islamophobia.

“Today, the escalation of Islamophobia in Europe has an obvious link to the Jan. 2015 Charlie Hebdo shootings and the Nov. attacks on Paris,” Zeren said.

Zeren cited a Reuters report as evidence of this disturbing increase of Islamophobia. According to the report, 400 hate crimes were committed against Muslims in France in 2015, triple that of the previous year.

Zeren said this rise in Islamophobia could continue to have some extremely negative consequences.

“We can make an argument that Islam is not the real danger, but fear from it could be very dangerous for individuals, communities, and state,” Zeren said.

“The reactions can vary from verbal and physical attacks to negative stereotyping in the media.”

However, Albahari said European governments have failed to provide any help to Muslims.

“Muslims remain outside the domain of anti-racism legislation in Europe,” Albahari said. “This is applied for other racial and religious minorities, but not for Muslims.”

Zeren said this discrimination against Muslims has contributed to the rising number of terrorist attacks.

“This is a vicious cycle, with policies causing marginalization, and marginalization feeding terrorism, and terrorism igniting the Islamophobia,” Zeren said.

Research scholar of Islamic Studies and peace-building A. Rashied Omar said the war on terror has only exacerbated the Islamophobia problem.

“The war on terrorism is not helpful in ameliorating the root causes that provide the fertile ground on which religious extremism thrives,” Omar said.

“On the contrary, it is generating conditions that favor extremism, thus rendering the task of eradicating Islamophobia extremely difficult.”

In order to end the “vicious cycle” Zeren described, Omar said people of different faiths and cultures must set aside their differences and attempt to understand each other.

“More efforts should be put in to mutual and respectful dialogue and interactions, so that people of different cultures, of different faiths and no faiths can get to know each other beyond mere toleration,” Omar said.

In addition, an end to Islamophobia and terrorism in Europe will only be achieved if European citizens and governments treat migrants and refugees more justly, Omar said.

“The challenge that global peace holds for Muslims, Christians, Jews, people of different faiths and people of no faith is to work towards the building of more welcoming environments as well as inclusive cultures for immigrants,” Omar said.

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  • Ganesha_akbar

    If one wishes to speak of “phobia”, one should speak instead of Candorphobia– the fear of and revulsion toward perfectly legitimate criticisms of Islamo-supremacists.

    Secular Muslims (interested in reform) are left unsupported precisely because most Leftists fear being accused (falsely) of hate-mongering by sharia necromongers, more than they’re haunted for branding themselves as moral cowards over abandoning the defense of human rights.

    Muslims in America may be the very soul of moderation. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable for folks to ask for more from (allegedly) “peaceful” Muslims than disingenuous whitewashing of uncomfortable elements of Islamic sharia tradition, as practiced by the San Bernardino shooters.

    A genuine tiny minority of anti-sharia Muslims may be found at the Institution for Secularization of Islamic Society (ISIS) http://www.centerforinquiry.net/isis/

    Americans remain breathless in anticipation of the vast majority of (allegedly) “peaceful” Muslims supporting this genuinely tiny minority of their co-religionists… but don’t hold your breath. Leftist-fascists are determined to fight the Muslim Brotherhood’s enemies to the last infidel.

    See also, “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left”

    [Graduate Library Stacks: HN90.R3 H583 2004]

  • ‘Islamophobia’ will only end when ‘Allah’ is consigned to the Lake of Fire, unable to cast terror into the hearts of ‘unbelievers’ in its evil, antichrist religion.

    • Ganesha_akbar

      With global jihadists still active in the UK, EU, Oz and America’s heartland and Iran pursuing nuclear WMDs, Westerners must resurrect prudent Greatest Generation pacification strategies against Islamo-fascism. Next steps should require loyalty oaths from Muslim immigrants, outlaw the Koran (Mo’s Mein Kampf) and require Muslims individually denounce “sharia” and “jihad” or face internment or expulsion… then invoke the Truman doctrine and glass their ancient evil Ka’aba.

      Shinto-fascist beheaders were only pacified the hard way by Democrats. Give 72 hours notice to evacuate, then glass the Ka’aba. Mecca would make a fine proving ground for kinetic bombardment (rods from god) and excellent negotiating leverage against Tehran’s belligerence.

      No more Hajj. No more Ring of Tawaf. No more Islam. Checkmate.

      You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” …You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

      • João Pedro Santos

        “outlaw the Koran”
        So… let’s outlaw the Bible as well?

        • Ganesha_akbar

          Your silly moral equivalence posturing is defeatist and groundless.

          But thanks for acknowledging that Shinto-fascist beheaders were only pacified the hard way by Democrats. Today, Shinto are peaceful, prosperous… and pacified. You’re welcome.

    • Ganesha_akbar

      In the meantime, his followers must be persuaded to recognize that truth.

      • An appropriate depiction of the false prophet.

        • João Pedro Santos

          Is there a “true prophet”?

  • garyfouse

    In Europe you have unassimilated and hostile Muslim immigrants who have created no-go zones, preach hatred for the West in the mosques, and have no respect for the values of the countries they have chosen to immigrate to. You have terror attacks, Jews can’t walk the streets, and ISIS has its killers roaming the continent. Now you have hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are literally crashing into Europe assaulting women and committing all kinds of crimes, most notably rape. You have the New Years incident in Cologne where hundreds of German women were sexually assaulted in front of the train station.

    And you complain about Islamophobia and call the Europeans racists? This is like complaining about Naziphobia in occupied Europe during WW II.

    • João Pedro Santos
      • garyfouse


        Take it from one who has lived in Europe (Germany 3 years and Italy 5 years) and goes back regularly. They do exist. Mollenbeek (Brussels) has been in the news recently as a nest for the Paris terrorists. Rosengard (Malmo, Sweden is also notorious). There are many.

        The below video is from Bury park (Luton, England).


        To me, this is not about hating Muslims or accusing all Muslims of terror and persecution of non-Muslims (which is rampant in Islamic countries). But we must have an honest discussion about this.