Islamophobia, Migration and the West: A Critical Analysis
Europe, we have been warned, facing a “global threat”, posed, post September 11 by Islamic Extremism. In a speech to his sedgefield constituency, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke in apocalyptic tones of a threat that is real and existential, it needed to fought “whatever the political cost”.1
The declaration has got its own meaning in terms of political, social and cultural values of Europe and it has got greater implications on the policy making of European countries with regards to the Muslims. The so called Global war on terrorism posed after September 11 has got greater significance in terms of Islamophobia which has drawn attentions of general masses all over the west and it has created panic and threat to humanity as it merged to the meaning in the perspectives of state security. There are ongoing debates and controversies since this might be termed as “Anti Muslim Racism”2. Whatever is the term, unlike the declaration of the former British Prime Minister, it's clear that west has become Islamophobic after the attack on twin towers on September 11, 2001.On the outset, its associated with a few patterns of misconceptions like jihad and Islamic terrorism and the media propaganda of the west(Fatemeh:2008:1)3. The first pattern is simple and clear to peoples of the west and its quite panic for them. But the second pattern which creates more panic and hatred against Muslims is the media propaganda which is not quite clear to peoples outside the media. The third pattern is sometimes becoming clear to peoples everywhere through scientific research which is sometimes termed as “Anti Muslim Racism”.
In 1997, The Runnymede Trust UK4 produced a report titled-“Islamophobia: A challenge for us all” defined 8 specific components of Islamophobia. As per the report, Islamopobia is seen as a discrimination or prejudice against Islam or Muslims. On the other hands, Islam or Muslims are seen as violent or excluded from the west mainstream society.
Islamophobia, Migration and the West:
The First pattern: Jihad, Islamophobia and the Misconceptions among the West
The first pattern is in the declaration of the meaning of Islamic Jihad, Terrorism and its implication to the political, social and cultural values of Europe. In European issues with regards to Islam has made it significant that Islam and Muslim is an enemy to them without making the proper interpretation to it. In most of the countries of Europe, Islam and Islamic teachings are quite subversive in terms of integration to them. During the last few years in most countries of Europe, veils have become an issue as well as minarets of mosque.
Immediate after the attack of 9/11, the western media started giggling about Islamic jihad which has got all its equal meaning of terrorism in the western world. Originally jihad in its original meaning is to strive or struggle for the cause of God 5.
Amongst most westerners, the term “Jihad” (“Struggle” in Arabic) often brings up images of Muslim terrorists killing people who disagree with them. Jihad is an emotionally charged word that is heralded by the Western news media in descriptions of Middle East activities. People need not wait long to hear the term used during nightly news and see the affects of present day Islamic struggles in vivid pictures of destruction beamed to western televisions.6
This is the image sometimes projected by Western scholars that Islamic jihad condones and teaches the forced and armed conversion of non-Muslims as well as killing them. Because amongst the four patterns of Jihad, the part by which jihad is misinterpreted by the westerners is Jihad against the leaders of oppression and innovation which is of three kinds: jihad with one's hand (i.e., physical jihad, fighting) if one is able. If that is not possible, then it should be with one's tongue (i.e., by speaking out). If that is not possible, then it should be with one's heart (i.e., by hating the evil and feeling that it is wrong).7
But facts are far beyond. The Qur'an clearly states "There is no compulsion in religion, the path of guidance stands out clear from error"[2:256] and [60:8]8.Even The Qur'an further states- “To you be your religion, to me my religion(Islamic Monotheism)”(109:6)9
So, the fact is that in Islamic literature, Jihad has got all the three other meanings which states as Jihad an-Nafs (jihad against one's self), jihad ash-shaytan (jihad against Satan) and jihad against Kuffar and jihad against hypocrites.10
Though such connotations of jihad is not clear to most of the peoples of the west and by thus it makes confusions among them and in such cases western media depicted jihad as “holy war” against non –Muslims which is believed by the common peoples of the west and by thus they have become Islamophobic.
In his analysis of Islamophobia, Muslim and Islam, portrayed by the western media, Whitaker (2002) notes that -“There are four very persistent stereotypes that crop up time and again in the different articles. These tell us that Muslims are intolerant, misogynistic, violent or cruel, and finally strange or different. (P.1)11
The Second Pattern: Western Media, Migration, Islamophobia and the West
From the history we see the pattern of migration of human being; more specifically the modern Muslim migration is as similar as it was in case of the Jews in the past.
As Norman Markowitz stated with the following facts about the migration patterns in the west by the Jews and the Muslims-“Muslims are part of a similar migration (like the Jews in the past), this time non-European, from South and East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, which has been created by the present advanced stage of imperialism, drawing both individuals with education and some capital and millions of marginalized poor to the developed world”.12
This implies the truth beyond the migration of the Muslims like the Jews in the pasts and draws attentions of the west since Jews are different from the Christians in their livelihood in perspectives of the west the similar is also true in case of the Muslims and in realities most of these Muslims in the United States and Europe are engaged in their livelihood as productive professionals.
By thus Jews and Muslims are indifferent at the pattern of migration to the west than that of the Christians then why Muslims are imposed with Jihad at the west or termed as “Terrorists”?This is due to the reasons that western media is strong and it is continuously creating propaganda against Islam and Muslims.
In the 1990s America and its cultural allies (like the countries of Europe) appear to dominate the world. They do so through the media. That is why the media is seen as hostile by the Muslim world. Anything from the West is regarded as potentially threatening; this creates neurosis and suspicion. Anyone associating with the West is seen as an agent, a representative of the CIA. It is the gut reaction and bizarre response of a people repeatedly humiliated and let down by the West. It is not the response of Islamic civilization which has survived over a millennium and produced some of the most enduring cultural systems ever seen (Ahmad; 1993:1)13.
Third Pattern: Islamophobia, Migration and Anti Muslim Racism:
The west has started an unequal war against all the Muslims which started after 9/11. The facts is that it started against the Muslims to have extended power and to show the whole world a “world of divide” after the demise of soviet union which many theorists say “Fictitious Enemy”14.
This Fictitious enemy theory has depicted western attitude towards Muslims as “Anti Muslim Racism”. The first is the instance in France where Muslim women can't wear on veils on the ground that this is against their valued sexuality. The President of France Nicolas Sarkozy at an Interview with the Guardian on 14th January 201015 told the reporters-calling for an "unambiguous" parliamentary resolution against an item of clothing he said was "not welcome" in a country which valued sexual equality.
Now it's the questions of integrity by the Muslims all over the world and the questions of religious freedoms which are valued by the European Union Joint declaration of Protecting Human Rights 2005.
The next is the incidence of Banning minarets in Switzerland. Swiss voters have given their votes banning minarets of the Muslims who are only a few in Switzerland.BBC on 29th November 200916 reported almost 57% of the voters and 22 out of 26 cantons voted in favor of the ban of minarets of Muslim mosques in Switzerland.
What is more astonishing is that anywhere of the world, neither of the peoples have ever decided the pattern of religious rituals, values and norms of the any religious groups what Europe is doing in case of the Muslims. Though Europe is Christian majority, even like Muslims, other religious groups are also minority and none of the decisions are not at all taken against any other faiths.
This is what is termed as “Anti Muslim Racism “by Liz Fekete and sometimes a few scholarships has termed this problem as a Problem of Integration of Muslims into the main stream European Society.
(Source: Savage; 2004:27)17
This table clearly shows that only 5% of the European populations are Muslims and if we include the Turkish populations into Europe it would be 15%.Now if we think about the European claims that only 5% of these Muslims populations are having grater impacts on the social, economic and political life of Europe is not only vague, this is laughable too. Even if we think of the level of state security perspectives, is that at all possible to have threatened 95% of European populations by only 5% Muslim populations who are always in distress in all social, economic and political terms.Becuase this 5% Muslims are almost backward in the European society.
The so called global war on terrorism started in twin tower has been of a fake controversy which the scientists, researchers and even the report published by the American State department had been full of lies which is questioned by the American security specialists19. How can only 5 hijackers attack twin towers so scientifically who are not at all astronauts or physicists or aeronautical engineers! Immediate after the attack, almost 45 top scientists of America including several university teachers have conducted an independent survey on the ground zero attack and have published their reports in the world media which shows the pattern of attack is only possible with proper plans and executions of the planned exercise of achieving particular targets for long years.
Immediate after the attack USA has declared Muslims as terrorists and by thus human migration has become one of the greatest threats to state security. But the pattern raises more questions on the perceptions to migratory movements like undocumented migrants and migrants with better skills. Even more astonishing facts are that one old study suggested that almost 25% of the Silicon Valley companies are founded by the immigrants including the Muslims. A more recent Duke study found that this number has spread throughout the US: of tech- or engineering-related companies founded across the US, over 25% were founded by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, the number is now 52.4%.20
So the patterns which discussed here raised more thoughts about the migratory patterns and its linkages with Islamophobia. By thus Islamophobia with the west has raised more questions whether it would be well set or not and it initiated more with the migratory process which involved the development human civilization.
1. From the Prime Ministers speech, delivered on 5 March 2004 in his sedgefiled constituency, justifying the military action in Iraq and warning of the continued threat of global terrorism, Guardian, 5 March 2004, originally cited in the Book-“A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe” by Liz Fekete,Pluto Press, Chapter-2, Page-4
5. Maududi,Abul A'la (2006:7): “Jihad in Islam” Produced by The Holy Quran Publishing House, Beirut ,Lebanon.
8. The Holy Quran, Sura-Al Bakara (The Cow) ,Ayat(Verse) -256 and Sura –Al Mumtahanah (The Women to be Examined) ,Ayat (Verse)-8,English Translation of the meanings and commentary of the Noble Quran by Dr.Muhammad Taqi-ud-din Al-Hilali,Formerly Professor of Islamic Faith and Teachings,Islamic University,Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah and Dr.Muhammad Muhsin khan,Formerly Director,University Hospital,Islamic University,Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah,Published by The King Fahd Complex,Al –Madinah,Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
9. Ibid, Sura-Al-Kafirun(The Disbelievers),Ayat(Verse)-6
10. Ali, Amir M.: "Jihad explained; Brochure # 18," by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education at: http://www.irshad.org/islam/iiie/iiie_18.htm
11. Whitaker, Brian (2002:1):'Islam and British Press after September 11' at (http://www.al-bab.com/media/articles/bw020620.htm).
12. Markowitz, Norman (2007:1): in his article “Islamophobia and the West” in the Political Affairs Magazine, March-April 2007, New York, USA.
13. Ahmed,Akbar S.(1993:1):Living Islam, From Samarkand to Stornoway, Published by BBC Books Limited, Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane, London, U.K. W12
17. Savage, Timothy M.(2004:27): in his article-“Europe and Islam-Crescent Waxing and Cultures Clashing” at The Washington Quarterly Summer 2004,Vol.27,No.3, Published by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT),USA.
20. The United Nations Report 2008, United Nations Global Projections Reports, New York.