Decoding Islamophobia and its Combating Efforts

What exactly is Islamophobia?

Islamophobia is a widespread prejudice against Muslims that is accompanied by racial hatred and hostility. It is a type of bigotry that is specifically directed towards targeting Muslim interpretation or presumed Muslimness.  Muslims are negatively portrayed and are often encountered with “Xenophobia.” It is a blatant crime against humanity and integrity. The Muslim community has recently seen an increase in Anti-Muslim and Anti-Islam sentiment from the West and its Neighbors in the form of racial discriminatory policies, which surpass the Muslim sentiments. These policies are often undermining Muslims’ identities and jeopardizing their religion.  

“A staggering and ruthless notion towards Muslim identity and, thus a blatant crime against humanity and coherence”


Initial Phase; Islamophobia in the realm of Muslim Solidarity

The origins of Islamophobia goes beyond 9/11 because the first wave of Islamophobia began with Arab members of OPEC imposing an oil embargo on the U.S., and became entrenched after the Iranian Revolution. Since the embargo was motivated by Muslim solidarity, Islam was thrust into the spotlight of American media. Orientalists began to express an opinion on it on a continuous basis, trying to introduce audiences to Islam as an ideology associated with the oil crisis. The hostage crises in 1979 further provided a thought for western powers to associate its relevance with it.


Intermediate phase; Islamophobia out of Security Concerns

Islam was presented as a threat for the western ideals and words like “fundamentalism” and “radicalization” were also associated with it. The 9/11 incident on the world trade center further prompted the Islamophobic sentiment and animosity, out of security concerns.  Islamophobic articles have been published by major media outlets encouraging the establishment of negative opinions about Islam. The contribution of Western media has exacerbated Muslims’ sufferings. Terror attacks carried out by Muslims received far more attention than those carried out against non-Muslims in recent years. Religious Islamic practices as that of wearing a Hijab, keeping a beard were strongly correlated with religious extremism and Muslims had been labeled as security risk by the end of the second phase.


Current Phase; Islamophobia in Domestic and Internal Politics 

Considering the case of India, it is exhibiting Institutionalized Islamophobia as a means of consolidating power, with systemic and strategic exclusion of Kashmiri Muslims.  Anti-Islam sentiments in current phase is intrigued vis a vis with social concerns and domestic politics. Concerns of demographic incursion have led to localized backlash against Muslim immigrants and refugees, who are perceived as a threat by default. It can be observed that the BJP’s decision to repeal Articles 370 and 35A as an attempt to create a Hindu majority in Kashmir by causing a demographic shift. This is consistent with the BJP’s ostensibly “Islamophobic Manifesto”.


BJP leaders have expressed a desire to resettle Hindu populations in Kashmir, a dream that is not too far-fetched. The ideology of Hindutva-driven Islamophobia and Hindu hegemony has also infused the Hindu mainstream in India, where cases of Muslim massacres have massively increased under Modi’s government, and animosity and abuse toward Kashmiri Muslims has been aggravated.


The prevailing Hindu identity supremacy under the Hindutva discourse has alarming concerns for the minority Muslim Diaspora and thus, contributing to identity crises among the Kashmiri Muslims in India, which inhabits a major Muslim minority population. It is further churning out hate speech in the form of propaganda films like Kashmir Files


Europe, France and the UK had the highest rates of Islamophobic activity, according to a new report by the British-based think tank, the Observatory. A similar pattern was observed in Asia, particularly in India and Sri Lanka, where the phenomenon has heightened due to existing tensions with Rohingya Muslim minority and Buddhist monks in Myanmar.


PM Khan’s efforts towards combating Islamophobia

Khan’s contribution to the global community in deciphering the serious issue of Islamophobia on 27th September 2019 in UNGA is of commendable nature. The very religion that teaches and spreads harmony is equated with terror and radicalization, khan addressed. He further enlightened the community by stating that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, but rather that its teachings forbid radicalization and violations of human rights. In Islam, there is no place for human terror. As a result, based on the historical claims of 9/11, the Western community must refrain from equating Islam with terror. It would be fair to say that Khan’s attempt to address the issue in 2019 paved the way for a UN resolution on Combating Islamophobia on March 15, 2022.  Pakistan introduced the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  It commemorates the day that a gunman opened fire on Al-Noor and Linwood Mosque, killing 51 people and injuring 40 more in Christchurch, New Zealand. The massacre by terrorist attack on the Christ Church was a nightmarish manifestation of Anti-Muslim sentiment. The above-mentioned attack and countless others over the years, are not merely case studies of general bigotry; scholars and experts have outlined them as a particular brand of prejudice against Muslims referred as Islamophobia.


Opposition from the Counterparts

The passing of the resolution on combating Islamophobia bolstered Pakistan’s morale. While in contrast to Pakistan and the Gulf States, France and India representatives expressed disdain for the resolution, citing accusations of Islamophobia levelled by their own Muslim communities. The resolution was described as “unsatisfying” and “troublesome” by France’s permanent representative to the UN, Nicolas de Rivière, who told the UN General Assembly that his government supports and safeguards all religions and beliefs.

While India’s Permanent Representative T.s Tirumurti declared Islamophobia a discriminatory term because it disenfranchises Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians, he suggested the term should have been religious phobia.” The dissatisfaction and disagreement of the Indian government can further be accessed through Karanataka, India’s High Court take on upholding the ban on Hijab by the educational institutes on the similar day as the resolution was passed.


Future aspects of the Resolution

Concerning the future aspects of Islamophobia following the UN’s resolution, there is considerable skepticism as to whether this attempt will help prevent future anti-Muslim propagandas or fully counter the entrenching wave of Islamophobia. Despite, the skepticism, it has been a landmark resolution towards global awareness regarding a curtailing issue that has vandalized several Muslims’ lives.  However, the resolution was well-timed, and the countries that objected were precisely those that needed the message the most.

Pakistan hopes that the UN resolution will contribute to the abolition of the concept of radicalization associated with Islam, and a significant shift will be seen in how the world perceives Islam as well as Muslims.

 Published in Global Affairs May Edition 2022

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Mariam Rehman

Written by Mariam Rehman

Mariam Rehman is a student of National Defence University with a keen interest in SouthAsian security dynamics, South Asian Politics and Nationalism. She tweets @MariamRehman16 and can be reached at

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