Don’t even attempt to justify islamophobia. It does not protect your country. It does not counter terrorism.
It’s simple: The marginalization of Muslims, which is based on slanderous generalizations, fuels the Islamic State (IS). Islamophobia – the fear of the Islamic faith – feeds right into the hands of the very terrorist group that many islamophobes believe they are hurting.
The goal of IS is to eliminate any potential for Muslims and non-Muslims to peacefully coexist in a community. It’s all or nothing; it’s them versus us. This IS ideology parallels that of Islamophobes who believe the same: That Muslims and non-Muslims should not be living in the same environments.
IS is attempting to eliminate the “gray zone” of Islam and seeking to radicalize as many Muslims as possible. Recruiters target those Muslims who feel that they are not being accepted in their communities and don’t feel welcome in western society.
When individuals are constantly being marginalized – being told that they are lesser and unwanted – they begin to seek a counter narrative: Someone or something that sees value in them. IS is becoming a counter narrative for them – a haven from western society.
Many Muslim individuals are terrorized merely for their religion, and it is possible that these same individuals are hearing the seemingly welcoming calls of IS through Twitter and other recruitment mediums.
Yes, it sounds ridiculous that people flock to join IS because there is a perception that they will be able to practice their faith more freely. Yet that is what the culture of rampant Islamophobia is supporting. Xenophobes push Muslims out of their communities and this alienation allows them to be more susceptible to recruitment by IS.
Even more alarming is the terrifying reality of the narrative that American politics is broadcasting right now.
Donald Trump – I hate to give his name the benefit of print – is fueling IS. The policies he is proposing are outlandish, and not to mention unconstitutional (see The First Amendment). Yes, he has the liberty of free speech, but no one has the liberty to enact legislation that marginalizes individuals based on their religious affiliation.
His proposals for Muslim identification cards and banning all Muslims from the U.S. is exactly what IS wants. These policies will marginalize and exclude Muslims, making them more susceptible for recruitment to terrorist organizations.
It’s not exclusively in the U.S. either, as many European nations are experiencing movements of heightened Islamophobia. With many Syrian Muslims seeking refuge in Europe, it is imperative, when and if they are granted access into European nations, that these individuals are given the same level of human decency and respect as individuals of any other religion or nation.
Islamophobes are downgrading others to second-class citizens, or in the case of Trump, attempting to decline citizenship all together. The twisted notion that these xenophobic practices are somehow protecting our nations is ludacris. It is imperative, now more than ever, to peacefully welcome and accept Muslims into our communities.
I am not naive in saying that this marginalizing mindset needs to be curbed: I’m hopeful. Islamophobia can be suppressed by opening ourselves up to conversation and not fearing the unknown.