Sociology Current



Published on:
04 Nov 2023

Written by:
Pranay Aggarwal

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The News:

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a consensus Resolution declaring March 15 annually as the ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

Sociological Analysis:

  • Frederic Jameson (2000) argues that western Islamophobia must be seen as a manifestation of the process of responding to the next ‘enemy’ of the capitalist West after the disintegration of the communist USSR.

  • Thus, he writes that as the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 event, Muslim communities the world over find themselves staring at their own monochromatic pictures drawn by the media, which was devoid of any diversity within the community.

  • Those forwarding an anti-Muslim agenda believe that their viewpoints are coherent, but as Eli Massey and Nathan J. Robinson point out, the function of a prejudice “leads us to believe that our generalizations are based on reason and evidence, even when reason and evidence actually point in an entirely different direction.”

  • Thus, the belief that many Muslims support Islamic terrorism does not find basis on hard evidence. The 2016 report What Muslims Want, the most extensive research of British Muslims ever conducted, found that nine of 10 British Muslims reject terrorism outright.

  • Orientalism is the study of Near and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, and peoples by Western scholars. However, Orientalism, rather than being the benign study of the orient, was shown by Edward Said to be a process of fabrication of identities existing only in western fantasies.

  • It is now well-recognized that one of the images most fundamental to orientalism debates is that of a Muslim ‘oriental’ woman, veiled, oppressed, and sexually controlled. Mahmud Mamdani, in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim (2005), further explores how Muslim cultures are not only represented as homogenous monoliths but as pre-modern.

  • Ghazala Jamil thus believes that Islamophobia and Hindu communalism, both are a product of this orientalism. Understood out of context, Muslim issues are willfully misunderstood and made to reproduce the narrative of the oppressors.

  • Zeeshan Husain writes that In India, there is prevalent a unique type of Orientalism where Hindus are projected as original inhabitors of India while Muslims and Christians are termed as ‘outsiders’

  • Jamil believes that one of the major reasons for the economic backwardness among the Muslims in India is communal violence. She says that anti-Muslim pogroms alter the psychology of Muslims. Police and administration also lose legitimacy in their eyes.

  • The common experience of communal discrimination along with violence (or the anticipation of violence) binds Muslim women and Muslim men together more strongly than the common experience of patriarchy binds Hindu women and Muslim women. Thus, Islamophobia adversely affects the feminist cause.

  • Jamil also believes that such violence plays an active role in sidelining Muslims away from dominant economic transactions. For example, while it may appear that the residents choose to live where they do, they feel compelled to reside in these enclaves because of discriminatory real estate practices and fear of communal violence.

  • Zoya Hasan and Ritu Menon published their book In a Minority (2006), where they too have argued that economic backwardness among Muslims is due to discrimination they face in various aspects of public life and growing Islamophobia.

  • Happy man Jacob highlights the negative consequences of rising Islamophobia on India's foreign policy. He believes that India cannot fend off criticism from influential regional powers in West Asia, unlike criticism from the West. He concludes that India needs the West Asian states more than they need India.

  • G Samari writes that intersectional forms of oppression seem to exacerbate negative impacts, given that Black Muslim people and visibly Muslim women experience disproportionately greater rates of Islamophobic violence and discrimination.

  • Also, in their Islamophobia, health, and public health: a systematic literature review, G Samari and MZ Sharif believe that the cumulative effects of Islamophobia contribute to less help-seeking and mistrust of health care systems by patients.

  • India’s official stand with respect to the consensus resolution states that the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than singling out just one, should be acknowledged.

  • VivekKatju writes that it is an entirely valid assertion as ‘phobias’ are just not against Abrahamic faiths but also against non-Abrahamic religions. However, Non-Abrahamic faiths perhaps do not evoke the same degree of fear and negativity worldwide and especially in the West as does Islam.