Defining "Islamophobia"

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DEFINING "ISLAMOPHOBIA"

The term "Islamophobia" was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined as "unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims." The term was coined in the context of Muslims in the UK in particular and Europe in general, and formulated based on the more common "xenophobia" framework.

The report pointed to prevailing attitudes that incorporate the following beliefs:

  • Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities
  • Islam does not share common values with other major faiths
  • Islam as a religion is inferior to the West.  It is archaic, barbaric, and irrational.
  • Islam is a religion of violence and supports terrorism.
  • Islam is a violent political ideology.

For the purposes of anchoring the current research and documentation project, we provide the following working definition:

Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure.  It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve "civilizational rehab" of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).  Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.