Islamophobia and the Muslims

BETTER late than never, so one must welcome the OIC’s tough criticism of the rising ‘Islamophobia’ wave gripping the West, even if it has taken its time coming.

In many ways the Muslim fraternity must bear the bulk of responsibility for failing to check the post 9/11 mindset in the West which associated Islam with the hard-line extremism it battles as part of its wider war against terrorism.

Most Muslim countries’ decision to go along with Washington in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was understandable. However, giving in to George Bush’s “with us or without us” threat left them too mute to mount an effective challenge to the wave of paranoia that swept the West as extremists staged spirited insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Consequently, perpetrators of terrorism and violence have been generally accepted as the face of modern Islam, though nothing could be farther from the truth. The so-called tolerant West, too, has been less than appreciative of emerging situations, finding it convenient to leverage increasing fundamentalism for political ends that serve to alienate Muslim communities gaining footholds in their midst, as numerous examples from the heart of Europe go to show. Danish cartoon controversy, French scarf bans, and now Dutch Quran movie have proved daggers in the heart of much needed crosscultural union.

Significantly, more than half a decade of the raging war against terrorism has not featured so much as one word on its reasons and genesis on part of those who undertake the endeavour as the most essential key to their future survival. Surely the West is wary of delving too deeply in the phenomenon’s roots for fear of exposing the more disturbing aspects of its policy. In doing that, though, it only sows more troubles for the future it is supposedly safeguarding.

Muslim states should have taken serious note of the Islamophobia phenomenon much earlier. They need to realise that a multi-pronged strategy would need employment for successful results. Just as much hard work is needed inside their borders as interaction with the West. A healthy way of countering frustration that forms perhaps the most ideal habitat for terrorist indoctrination is addressing problems of acute poverty in much of the Muslim world, something the OIC has admirably promised to tackle. However, they need reminding that the organisation needs to seriously pull up its socks in terms of honouring promises. Some of its most ambitious initiatives, from the Islamic peace keeping force to the proposed common market and investment fund, remain just plans. For their own survival, Muslims will need to be more serious now.

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