Islamophobia in the West
Prejudice against Islam and Muslims is acquiring new dimensions in many Western societies. The religion and its followers are being maligned. The systemic distortion of their image is no longer a minor irritant that can be ignored.
Some of those who have made a study of the phenomenon call it "Islamophobia," indicating thereby that the campaign has its root in a morbid fear of Islam and that, in the course of time, it will arouse the same fear in the public mind. The end result, they believe, will be the creation of a climate of hatred and distaste in these societies for everything Islamic.
This observation is not a case of over-sensitivity on our part as Muslims. A number of Western thinkers and intellectuals have begun addressing the problem and warning their people of its consequences.
A Warning Note
One such warning note came recently from Professor Gordon Conway of Sussex University in Britain. Discussing the issue of this prejudice, he said that a careful look at the media -- print media in particular -- would show the extent of anti-Muslim sentiments. In tabloids, he pointed out, the attack against Islam was usually harsh and savage, while in more respected papers it was more subtle.
Conway attributes this antipathy to various reasons -- some religious, others racial. Obviously, intellectuals like Conway have read the warning signs and have the vision to see what they would mean in the future. They have seen the hate spreading and taking root in their societies. And having foreseen the danger, they have decided to confront it.
A group of British experts in racial relations announced last July their decision to set up a special committee to study and analyze …