Why Did Muslims Become the New Enemy in Norway and Europe?

Posted July 9, 2021 by Katrine Fangen & filed under Culture and ConflictMigrationReligion

Anti-Muslim views have become more widespread in Europe over the past 30 years, but it is important to distinguish between criticisms of certain forms of Islamic practice and the belief that Muslims are taking over Europe.

Mosque in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Oskar Seljeskog / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

People with anti-Islamic views wish to restrict Muslim immigration and Islamic religious practices. In their view, Islam is a homogenous, totalitarian ideology that is threatening western civilisation. When we talk about anti-Muslim racism, the attitudes concerned are so generalizing that all Muslims are lumped together, regardless of whether they are secular Muslims or fundamentalists. In other words, we are talking not only about criticism of a set of religious ideas, but about attitudes that dehumanize and generalize a whole group in the population.

Although such attitudes have a long history in Europe, the idea that Muslims are ‘the enemy’ has become more widespread over the last 30 years. In the aftermath of the Cold War, one could say that Europe needed a new archetypal enemy, and research shows that Muslim immigrants gradually took on that status. For example, it became gradually more common for people to talk about “Muslims”, rather than immigrants with Pakistani backgrounds.

Events that direct a critical focus onto Muslims

Research from various countries shows increases in anti-Muslim views towards Muslims in connection with various critical events. This does not suggest that anti-Muslim bias is growing in a continuously upwards trend. Rather, it suggests that this bias increases temporarily in connection with societal events that direct a critical focus on Muslims.

In the 1980s, for example, the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses provoked Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Rushdie, and many Muslims joined anti-Rushdie demonstrations and tore pages out of his book. In many cases, their demonstrations were met with highly generalizing and critical representations of Muslim in the media, where Islam as a religion was questioned.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRIO.ORG

I’m a Muslim woman covering the diversity of Brooklyn. Sometimes all people see is my hijab.

By: Zainab IqbalJune 30, 2021  

Below is an excerpt from The Collective, Poynter’s newsletter by journalists of color for journalists of color and our allies. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox the last Wednesday of every month.

When I was covering a protest one day in Brooklyn, an elderly woman came up to me. She was shorter than me, her hair was silver, and she walked with a limp. I can’t remember if she held a cane. I was standing on the side of a crowd that had gathered, with a notepad in one hand, a camera around my shoulder and my press pass around my neck.

Old women at protests are usually sweet and warm. They ask me where I work, what I am covering, where I am from. Sometimes they tell me they like my hijab. And then they ramble on about how they went on their daily walk, saw the protest and just had to join. I always enjoy speaking with old women. So when she approached me, I smiled.

“Did Arabs murder any people today?” she asked. “Did your people burn any pregnant women?”

I was stunned. I couldn’t seem to comprehend what she asked. I stood there, and she stood there, too, staring at me, as if daring me to answer. I think I muttered a “no” until someone approached the woman and told her, “Let’s go walk over there.” She left, but I still stood there.

Later, I would wonder why I hadn’t answered her. I would wonder why I didn’t tell her, “Ma’am, you are racist.” I would wonder why I didn’t educate her. I would wonder why — as a person who encourages others to share with me their truth, as a person who is obsessed with words for a living — no words came out of my own mouth at a time when they should have most.

For the past three and a half years, I have covered everything Brooklyn. From crime, to the opening of a small business, to the pandemic, to lost dogs who later found each other, to politics, to death. Brooklyn is huge and it’s diverse. I live in a neighborhood surrounded by Muslims on one side, Orthodox Jews on the other. Right across from my building is a Roman Catholic church. Brooklyn is the only place I have ever truly known, which is why by default it’s a place that I write about. I try to write stories I never grew up reading, about communities not usually covered by the media. If we don’t share the stories of people in the communities that we belong to, how can we trust anybody else to?

People often write to me online. Sometimes they send an email. They DM me. They comment under my article on Facebook. “Anti-Semite.” “Terrorist.” This is nothing new, and thousands of Muslims experience the same thing. Other Muslim women journalists experience this, too.

FULL ARTICLE FROM POYNTER.ORG

Suit seeks to limit anti-Muslim speech on Facebook but roots of Islamophobia run far deeper

A civil rights group is suing Facebook and its top executives in federal court over the company’s failure to crack down on hate speech against Muslims.

Muslim Advocates, a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on discrimination against American Muslims, alleges in the suit that Facebook has violated a series of local and federal consumer protection laws. The suit points out that the company itself, in a July 2020 internal audit, found that “Facebook has created an atmosphere where ‘Muslims feel under siege’” on the platform.

I am a scholar who tracks anti-Muslim activity such as violence, harassment, public speeches, property crimes and policies that target Muslims. This suit is right that many Muslims in the United States feel under siege – and have for quite some time.

But I am cautious about assigning too much blame to Facebook for the staggering magnitude and breadth of anti-Muslim activity in the U.S. As the author of “Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America,” I argue that this could be a convenient distraction – with limited overall effect – from the deeper histories and realities of white supremacy that require sustained attention.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

Muslim World League Launches #RejectHate Campaign to End Islamophobia on Social Media

MAKKAH, Saudi Arabia, March 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Muslim World League launched Wednesday the #RejectHate campaign to end Islamophobic content and hate speech on social media. The campaign, which invites supporters to sign a change.org petition, urges social media companies to adopt stronger anti-Islamophobic policies as part of their anti-hate regulations. In October of last year, both Facebook and Twitter announced that they would remove posts that deny the Holocaust, but have yet to adopt anti-hate policies that address other religious groups.

In recent months, Facebook and Twitter have introduced several rules purportedly designed to combat hate and bigotry on their platforms. Despite these new regulations, both companies continue to allow purveyors of Islamophobic content to spread hateful and false characterizations of the Islamic faith and the more than 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.

Currently on Facebook, 1 in every 1,000 posts shared violates the company’s rules on hate speech. More than three-quarters of content which violates their anti-hate rules is allowed to remain even after it is reported and investigated, giving a free pass for content targeting any group to be proliferated through Facebook. Twitter boasts similar statistics. The MWL is calling for a zero-tolerance policy towards hate speech targeting Muslims or adherents to any religion and more robust procedures to see hateful content quickly removed.

“There are prevailing voices that only represent the hateful outlook of extremism and isolation that are being amplified on social media,” MWL Secretary General His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said. “Social media has the power to bring people together across physical boundaries, but in recent years we have seen it become a breeding ground for hatred and intolerance.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRN NEWSWIRE

‘Some Europeans hold centuries-old grudge against Muslims’

Deep-rooted hatred against Islam persists, says Joram van Klaveren, the former far-right European politician, who was once a close ally of Geert Wilders.

When Brenton Tarrant live-streamed the massacre of Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand, viewers noticed his guns were covered with inscriptions – racial slurs such as ‘Migration Compact’ and ‘Kebab Remover’. One read ‘Vienna 1683’. 

That last one is a reference to the year when the Ottoman Empire fought a bloody war with the Holy League, a Christian European alliance that included Russia. 

Tarrant, 30, who has been imprisoned for life, without any possibility for parole, for the killing of 51 Muslim worshippers in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019, was well-versed in white supremacist propaganda.  

He cherry-picked historical events to justify targeting Muslims, who according to him, are migrating in large numbers and have more babies, something that threatens to turn white Europeans into a minority. 

Muslims make up 5 percent of Europe’s population, according to Pew Research. 

“What Tarrant and the others from the far-right do is that they bring these stories out of history, twist them around and use them to scare everybody,” says Joram van Klaveren, a former lawmaker of the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom (PVV) of Netherlands. 

“They don’t say that we in Europe should be thankful to Muslims for algebra, maths and hospitals – the things we borrowed from the Islamic civilisation.” 

Klaveren was a close associate of Geert Wilders, the Freedom party leader, and for years worked as his spokesperson on Islam. He once submitted a bill in the Netherlands parliament that called for a ban on Islam because it permits violence against women. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM TRT WORLD MAGAZINE

Anti-Muslim hatred has reached ‘epidemic proportions’ says UN rights expert, urging action by States

Institutional suspicion and fear of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions, the Human Rights Council heard on Thursday. Addressing the Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, independent rights expert Ahmed Shaheed, said that “numerous” States, regional and international bodies were to blame.In a report to the Council, he cited European surveys in 2018 and 2019 that showed that nearly four in 10 people held unfavourable views about Muslims. In 2017, 30 per cent of Americans viewed Muslims “in a negative light”, the Special Rapporteur added.

He said that States had responded to security threats “by adopting measures which disproportionately target Muslims and define Muslims as both high risk and at risk of radicalization”.

These measures include restricting Muslims from living according to their belief system, the securitization of religious communities, limits on access to citizenship, socioeconomic exclusion and pervasive stigmatization of Muslim communities.

Mr Shaheed noted that these developments followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other acts of terrorism purportedly carried out in the name of Islam.

Harmful tropes

He further raised concerns that in States where Muslims are in the minority, they are frequently targeted based on stereotypical ‘Muslim’ characteristics, such as names, skin colour and clothing, including religious attire, such as headscarves.

The independent expert said that “Islamophobic” discrimination and hostility were often intersectional, such as where “Muslim women may face a ‘triple penalty’ as women, minority ethnic and Muslim…Harmful stereotypes and tropes about Muslims and Islam are chronically reinforced by mainstream media, powerful politicians, influencers of popular culture and in academic discourse”, he added. 

The report emphasised that critiques of Islam should never be conflated with Islamophobia, adding that international human rights law protects individuals, not religions. The criticism of the ideas, leaders, symbols or practices of Islam is not Islamophobic in itself, the Special Rapporteur stressed, unless it is accompanied by hatred or bias towards Muslims in general.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UN NEWS SITE

Blatant Racism Against Muslims is Still With Us

By Nadine Naber | March 3, 2021

Sarah Ijaz joins the “Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders” to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order travel ban in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder – RTSXY60

Shortly after his inauguration, President Joe Biden reversed former President’s Donald Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, stating those actions are a stain on our national conscience.” This stance aligns with that of the tens of thousands of protesters who, at the time the first Muslim Travel Ban was enacted in January 2017, took to the streets and to airports across the country with slogans such as, “We are all Immigrants,” “Standing with Muslims against Islamophobia,” and “Stop Hatred against Muslims.” To be sure, the Muslim Travel Ban is a racist policy. It seeks to keep out or deport people perceived to be Muslim based upon the racist assumption that “they” are violent potential terrorist enemies of the U.S. nation. The ban was an executive order that prevented individuals from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from many African countries, from entering the United States.

Yet ending the Muslim Ban only scratches the surface of a much larger problem. If progressives really want to end anti-Muslim racism, we are going to need a more radical approach, that requires, as Angela Davis reminds us, “grasping things at the root.” The root cause of the Muslim Ban is anti-Muslim racism, which has many roots. Europeans perceived Islam and Muslims as a barbaric threat ever since its arrival in the 7th century. White Christian supremacist thought perceived “Islam” as a threat when Black people found within it liberatory possibilities in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and far beyond.  Contemporary anti-Muslim racism grew especially out of the post-Cold War period when the U.S. began launching its imperialist wars in the Arab region and growing its unconditional support for Israeli settler-colonialism. Out of this context, anti-Muslim racism, based on the idea that all Palestinians and Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are potential terrorists, was institutionalized through domestic and global policies and the U.S. corporate media’s rhetoric. 

After the U.S. first confirmed its alliance with Israel in 1967,  U.S. government and media rhetoric portrayed Palestinians Arabs and Muslims as terrorist enemies.  At this time, the FBI began harassing and stifling the voices of Arab students and activists based upon this racist logic. In the 1980s, seven Palestinians and one Kenyan were placed into deportation proceedings for enacting free speech rights. Their case, referred to as the L.A. 8, revealed a secret plan to intern Arab Americans. The period of the first Iraq war brought President Bill  Clinton’s Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill, introduced by then-Sen. Joe Biden, granting the U.S. government the power to deport individuals based upon secret evidence. A form of racial profiling, the U.S. used this bill to target primarily Arab Muslim men. The post-9-11 era consolidated the racial profiling of people perceived to be Muslim in the U.S. through airport profilingsurveillance of Muslim communities, detention, deportations, special registration of immigrants, and much more. All along, the racist idea of the “Muslim terrorist enemy” has justified the war on terror abroad and legitimized the racial profiling of Muslims in the U.S. as an extension of this war. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO REPORTER

How Muslims are challenging Islamophobia by refusing to condemn terrorism

When white supremacist Brenton Tarrant took the lives of 51 innocent people at Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, it sent shockwaves around the globe.  Similarly, the killing spree by far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, which wiped out 77 people including children, still remains fresh in many people’s minds even though it took place almost a decade ago.  However, despite the atrocities these terrorists carried out, there was no demand for members of their religion to speak out and condemn such violent behaviour simply because they shared it.   While some might ask why they even would be expected to, for many in the Muslim community it highlights a clear disparity when acts of terrorism are carried out at the hands of so-called Islamic states and those who prescribe to their ideas.

In sharp contrast, Muslim figures are quickly asked to voice their condemnation in no uncertain terms on TV chat shows, in vox-pops, or in national debates, despite having nothing in common with the terrorist other than a claimed share of religion.  Additionally, terror attacks involving Muslims receive 357% more coverage than when the religion of the attacker is unknown. It’s an issue Asim Qureshi, writer and research director of human rights organisation CAGE, has decided to explore in his book: I Refuse To Condemn, as he believes that by not outrightly denounce these acts – while not championing them either – is a political act in itself and a way to resist anti-Islamic prejudice.  In his book, 18 essayists write about the different ways Muslims can resist what’s expected of them and exist beyond the monolith they’re portrayed to be. Asim explains that the idea came after being constantly asked to comment on terror attacks, which included an interview with Channel 4’s Jon Snow, where he was questioned on whether he condemned the actions of Jihadi John, the infamous ISIS killer. He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I had a number of experiences being interviewed or being at events where people would ask me if I condemned terrorism. ‘I wanted to capture the lived experiences and feelings of scholars and activists from different communities, who have this demand made of them.  ‘My hope for this book is that it helps those who feel the pressure to condemn, find voices and experiences that they recognise, and find a pathway to resist that demand. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM METRO (UK)

Muslim Women don’t need saving

Gendered Islamophobia in Europe

Upon declaring a Global War on Terror in 2001, the US administration claimed that the “fight against terrorism was also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. In the years that followed, western political discourse regularly referred to the need to “free” apparently oppressed Muslim women from the shackles of their religion and way of life, reviving political and societal debates about head coverings, integration, gender equality, secularism, and neutrality.

Relying on Islamophobic stereotypes, and with no regard for the rights to freedom of expression or freedom of religion, laws and policies were introduced in a number of European countries, which banned the hijab and/ or niqab. In perhaps the most flagrent example of just how entrenched Islamophobia has become, European states, in effect, began legislating on Muslim women’s bodies, dictating which clothes they could or could not wear.

Download the full report here.

In the post 9/11 era, political discourse increasingly pointed towards an apparent incompatibility between what it is to be European and what it is to be Muslim; it seemed impossible to be both. Although anti-Muslim rhetoric has implications for all Muslims, much of the legislation rolled out and the policies implemented either specifically target, or disproportionately affect, Muslim women.

Much can be said about the increased policing of Muslims collectively and the systematic targeting of Islamic places of worship, but Muslim women, in particular, have borne the brunt of state led, racist laws and policies. Those who wear head coverings and Islamic attire are easily identifiable and have thus become easy targets. Following bans on Islamic dress, Muslim women have found themselves increasingly vulnerable and exposed to gendered Islamophobic attacks, while their rights to religious freedom, freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination have been sidelined or ignored. Attacks motivated predominantly by religion and gender have largely been normalised.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TNI.ORG

‘Islam’ is not in crisis, liberalism is

When the world is facing unprecedented poverty, violence and environmental collapse, it astonishes that one could suggest that Muslims or “Islam” are uniquely in crisis.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron declared in an address to the nation that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the world”. In the same speech, he unveiled a political programme for strengthening laïcité, France’s unique iteration of secularism that stringently restricts religion in the public sphere. Since then, a brutal decapitation of a schoolteacher, the vicious stabbing of two Muslim women and diplomatic spats have reignited global anxieties about the entanglement between Islam and laïcité.

Much has been written about France’s weaponisation of laïcité to discriminate against Muslims and on the history of French liberalism as a rationale for the brutal colonisation of millions of peoples across Asia and Africa – what it called its “mission civilisatrice” (civilising mission). This violence is as much part of French history as its revolutionary triad of liberté, égalité, and fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity).KEEP

It is only the latter, however, that is ever mentioned as France’s contribution to modernity. There is seldom a reckoning with the dark underbelly of liberalism, and the unparalleled violence that was, and continues to be, meted out to its historic Others. But Muslims – having borne the brunt of French (and other) colonialism, imperialism and racist violence – know it all too well. Indeed, for many, Macron’s call for an “Islam of the Enlightenment” is viewed as the latest development in that history.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA