Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century

Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century

Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century

Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century

Synopsis

Islamophobia has been on the rise since September 11, as seen in countless cases of discrimination, racism, hate speeches, physical attacks, and anti-Muslim campaigns. The 2006 Danish cartoon crisis and the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg speech have underscored the urgency of such issues as image-making, multiculturalism, freedom of expression, respect for religious symbols, and interfaith relations. The 1997 Runnymede Report defines Islamophobia as "dread, hatred, and hostility towards Islam and Muslims perpetuated by a series of closed views that imply and attribute negative and derogatory stereotypes and beliefs to Muslims." Violating the basic principles of human rights civil liberties, and religious freedom, Islamophobic acts take many different forms. In some cases, mosques, Islamic centers, and Muslim properties are attacked and desecrated. In the workplace, schools, and housing, it takes the form of suspicion, staring, hazing, mockery, rejection, stigmatizing and outright discrimination. In public places, it occurs as indirect discrimination, hate speech, and denial of access to goods and services. This collection of essays takes a multidisciplinary approach to Islamophobia, bringing together the expertise and experience of Muslim, American, and European scholars. Analysis is combined with policy recommendations. Contributors discuss and evaluate good practices already in place and offer new methods for dealing with discrimination, hatred, and racism.

Excerpt

“Islamophobia and the Challenges of Pluralism in the 21st Century” is a timely topic in a world in which the relationship between Islam and the West matters more than ever before. The increasing interdependence and coexistence among dissimilar peoples makes mutual acceptance and respect requisites for social harmony in our interconnected world; thus, the need for the Muslim and the Western worlds to accommodate each other is especially important given the central role these two large communities have been playing in global relations for the last fourteen centuries.

Religion is an indispensable component of human life. From time immemorial, religion has shaped the cultural identity of individuals and communities as well as the building of civilizations. In addition to the importance religion carries for all peoples of the world, Islam has been a central factor in the lives of its adherents. Its system of faith has guided them not only in spiritual and moral matters but also in their total world outlook. Islam has a distinctive place in Muslim life; as a sociological reality it influences and guides attitudes and behavior. It is therefore natural that Muslims cannot dismiss attacks directed against their religion as mere opinions but feel deeply offended and sometimes react strongly.

The weight of Islam in social life differs from one country to another. State systems and intellectuals’ attitudes vary significantly, ranging from the Islamic to the secular-oriented, creating a diversity . . .

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